Dan Zimmerman
Dan Zimmerman

     A Ripon resident who wrote a letter to the editor to his local paper is receiving wider coverage for his views.

     That's because the writer is Dan Zimmerman, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA).

     In a story published Friday by online political news service WisPolitics.com headlined “DVA Secretary Zimmerman defends Confederate statues in letter to Ripon newspaper,” the article quotes excerpts of Zimmerman's Aug. 31 letter to the Ripon Commonwealth Press in which he defends maintaining confederate monuments over efforts by some to “sanitize our history."

     In the letter headlined, "Unify U.S. by celebrating commonalities, not differences," Zimmerman counters the notion that confederate statues be removed by noting that “Free republics are built on strong foundations that consist of a comprehensive education that includes history and critical thinking skills. Authoritarian societies are based on indoctrination and intimidation.”

     By removing Civil War monuments sympathetic to the South, Zimmerman argues, the nation risks losing symbols that remind people “of the past perils caused by indoctrination and intimidation ...”

     Rather than remove statues, Zimmerman concluded his letter, “Let’s eradicate those divisive ideologies, finding commonality regardless of identity and skin color. If you love this country, you can no longer cower in silence. This is no time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.”

     Zimmerman's letter was published eight days after a protest in Charlottesville, Va. in which white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and a car plowed into crowds, leaving one person dead and 19 others injured.

     WisPolitics.com noted that it was tipped off to Zimmerman's letter but declined to name the source. It added that the letter previously has not received statewide attention.

     The news service quoted an unnamed DVA spokeswoman who confirmed Zimmerman’s authorship saying that his “message was intended to encourage us to reject hateful ideologies and find commonalities that unite us all.” She did not answer the WiscPolitics.com reporter’s other questions.

     Likewise, the story stated, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker declined to comment on the letter, which Zimmerman wrote as a private citizen and not in his capacity as DVA secretary.

     In the letter, Zimmerman wrote he was “concerned” about publishing his thoughts, adding he chose to do so because “the re-writing of history must not be unchallenged.”

     Associated Press reporter Todd Richmond called the Commonwealth Thursday seeking the full text of the letter, which is published in its entirely in an adjacent story. Richmond’s query does not appear to have resulted in a story written with his byline as of Saturday morning. 

     Zimmerman declined to comment for this story.