Skip to Content
Everything Else

The New York Times profiles Enid like it’s a foreign country…

10:48 AM EST on December 28, 2021

We'd like to give a big TLO attaboy to the town of Enid!

In this Sunday's paper, The New York Times profiled a group of Bible-thumpin', Trump-lovin', dry-humpin' comrades who have organized to overthrow the city's local government in a very democratic and intimidating manner!

It's a pretty interesting and long read, and if you didn't know the Times was covering a town only 100 flat miles from here, you'd think they were in a foreign land profiling a group of religious extremists hellbent on implementing a theocracy.

Via The Times:

On a hot night in July, the first summer of the pandemic, Jonathan Waddell, a city commissioner in Enid, Okla., sat staring out at a rowdy audience dressed in red. They were in the third hour of public comments on a proposed mask mandate, and Mr. Waddell, a retired Air Force sergeant who supported it, was feeling increasingly uncomfortable.

He had noticed something was different when he drove up in his truck. The parking lot was full, and people wearing red were getting out of their cars greeting one another, looking a bit like players on a sports team. As the meeting began, he realized that they opposed the mandate. It was almost everybody in the room.

The meeting was unlike any he had ever attended. One woman cried and said wearing a mask made her feel like she did when she was raped at 17. Another read the Lord’s Prayer and said the word “agenda” at the top of the meeting schedule seemed suspicious. A man quoted Patrick Henry and handed out copies of the Constitution.

“The line is being drawn, folks,” said a man in jeans and a red T-shirt. He said the people in the audience “had been shouted down for the last 20 years, and they’re finally here to draw a line, and I think they’re saying, ‘We’ve had enough.’”

At the end of the night, the mask mandate failed, and the audience erupted in cheers. But for Mr. Waddell, who had spent seven years making Enid his home, it was only the beginning. He remembers driving home and watching his mirrors to make sure no one was following him. He called his father, a former police officer, and told him what had happened. He said that people were talking about masks, but that it felt like something else. What, exactly, he did not know.

One person featured prominently in the story is Melissa Crabtree. Remember her? She's the anti-science, anti-government homeschool mom who's won several sales awards on the Essential Oils circuit and – as we first reported in a TLO Exclusive – was appointed to the State School Board by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt in 2020.

Well, at least she was for about 100 hours or so. Four days after her appointment, Governor Stitt rescinded the nomination due to the backlash it received.

I spoke with Melissa Crabtree today and she requested that I rescind her appointment to the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

I was extremely disappointed to see how many were so quick to judge her without taking the time to personally speak to her.

I said it then and I'll say it again – I never spoke to Melissa, but at least I spent 30 minutes going through all the whacko right-wing propaganda and disinformation stuff she shared on Facebook, which is about 30-minutes more than Kevin Stitt’s people did.

The New York Times did speak to Melissa – a Texas by way of Tennesee transplant who knows the perfect aromatherapy scent for any homeschool bible study group – and spent a lot of time focusing on her efforts to build the Enid Freedom Fighters. It's the right-wing coalition that effectively fought mask mandates during the throes of a pandemic that's killed more Oklahomans per capita than any other state, and now effectively controls the city:

In February, they swept the local elections, winning three seats on the City Council — including Mr. Waddell’s and Mr. Ezzell’s. Winning felt good and they kept going. Over the course of this year, through a series of elections, appointments and City Council votes, they have helped get four candidates onto the school board and another four onto the library board, Ms. Crabtree said, the latter after a disagreement over a display of L.G.B.T.Q. books for Pride Month.

In addition to speaking with the religious zealots who have taken over the town, the Times focused a lot on Jonathan Waddell – the exiled sand and reasonable city councilmember. After being voted out of the office and seeing the rightwing madness first hand, he's wisely looking to flee the city:

For Mr. Waddell, the past 18 months have been the most painful of his life. He said the experience changed him, and left him feeling that Enid, as much as he tried to build a life there, no longer feels like home.

He said he is working on forgiveness. But he is also applying for jobs outside Oklahoma: Several applications in Arizona look promising.

Of the City Council election, he said: “I think the process worked. You elect representatives that reflect your ideals. And these folks do. They reflect the ideals of Enid. And I’m OK with that.”

Anyway, you can read the rest of the Times report here. I wonder how long until they just embed their own foreign correspondent in the state and cover us like the alt-right foreign country we're quickly becoming? I give them a couple or months or so.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter