Column: Encouraging diversity vs. angry rhetoric
WORTHINGTON — First of all, I want to point out that this is not a Daily Globe editorial; it’s a personal column.
The difference, I’d like to believe, is simple, Opinions expressed in our editorials represent the newspaper, while columns such as this are my own thoughts. And I definitely had a number of thoughts upon receiving a press release last week from Jim Hagedorn, who once again is challenging five-term incumbent Tim Walz for his 1st Congressional District seat.
In the press release — headlined “Hagedorn: Failure to call out radical Islam & protect the United States from terrorists is un-American” — the Republican candidate assails Walz for a full-page advertisement published in the Feb. 1 Star Tribune. Hagedorn included a copy of the ad, “It’d be Un-Minnesotan,” with his press release, and the difference in tone between the two is pretty remarkable, to say the least.
Let’s first consider the ad first, which was not solely paid for by Walz. Several names in addition to the Mankato Democrat’s are listed at the bottom of the page, including Gov. Mark Dayton and a host of other Democrats — including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and Congressional Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Rick Nolan. No currently serving Republican politicians had names attached, though the list did include former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger and Wheelock Whitney, who once ran for U.S. senator and governor as a Republican.
So what, exactly, is Minnesotan and Un-Minnesotan?
Here’s the fourth paragraph of the Star Tribune ad: Though we may be a soft-spoken bunch, we know better than to be silent or still in the face of bigotry shown to Muslims. Our Minnesotans.
Here’s the second paragraph of Hagedorn’s: Hagedorn said Walz’s “politically correct pro-Muslim lecturing” further demonstrates how radically out-of-touch the five-term congressman is with his First District constituents.
Here’s another contrast between the two.
States the ad — which the Star Tribune reported was the “brainstorm of ... Ellison and John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management, who describes himself as a ‘card-carrying Republican’” — in another passage: Every intolerant social post, every prejudiced comment aimed at Muslims, needs a response. Your response. We must lead people to a place of tolerance and understanding. We must come together as a diverse and vibrant community.
And, here’s Hagedorn: Southern Minnesotans understand the serious threat of radical Islam and want a congressman who will speak the truth about Islamic terrorism and support the Peace through Strength policies needed to defend the United States and protect the American people. It’s ironic that Tim Walz, who for a decade has been ‘quiet as a church mouse’ on the issue of radical Islam, now finds his voice to brand constituents as ‘Un-Minnesotan,’ and impose by inference a politically correct litmus test on those who would support policies aimed at keeping our nation safe.
Clearly — at least from my perspective — one message is all about tolerance and mutual respect. The other is about provocation of a different kind, and a clear political agenda.
I’ve met Jim Hagedorn a number of times at my office, and respect him as a tireless worker for what he sincerely believes is in the best interest of southwest Minnesota. He has put forth no shortage of policy proposals, including some in this press release (which can be read in its entirety, along with the Star Tribune ad, at http://www.jimhagedorn.org/pr_hagedorn_failure_to_call_out_radical_islam...). And, within hours of issuing the release criticizing Walz, he traveled to fire-stricken Madelia — a good political decision, to be sure, but also a wise one that almost certainly had to be motivated in some part by genuine compassion.
Yet, even though Democrats were the primary individuals sponsoring the Star Tribune ad, it seems mean-spirited to so sharply criticize a message of inclusion and tolerance. Taft, for one, told the Star Tribune that the ad “isn’t a political ad in any way. … It was a collaboration between a corporate Republican and a political Democrat that would start everyone off on a bipartisan note.”
Hagedorn, though, wasn’t biting on any intended bipartisanship: “Minnesota already has an Islamic terrorist recruiting problem stemming from east African refugees, many of whom Walz voted to bring to the U.S. Yet, when refugees living in Minnesota were arrested and convicted for conspiring to help ISIS, Tim Walz remained silent and did nothing. The ad, it should be noted, does not include any references to the above.
Perhaps Hagedorn is simply trying to fire up the sorts of people he hopes will lend him support in the coming election season. Hopefully, though, there’s a place in him for what should be an apolitical notion: “a diverse and vibrant community.” That sounds, incidentally, like Worthington — not to mention very Minnesotan.