In hate speech from GOP leader, a question of values

The new Republicans in the Minnesota House are vowing to set the agenda, MPR’s Tim Pugmire reported yesterday. It’s not at all surprising since the Republicans have swept into control of the Minnesota House, campaigning on primarily economic platforms.

But in his story yesterday, Pugmire raised a phrase not heard much during the campaign — “traditional values” and “rural values.”

Specifically, an incoming legislator said he wants to prevent private businesses from being forced to do business with homosexuals.

“People of faith need to be able to know that they can practice their faith in the way, in the tradition that their family has over many, many years, without being afraid of somehow violating the law,” said Josh Heintzeman of Nisswa.

“Rural values” and “traditional values” are fairly vague terms, which are often left to the rest of us — city slickers — to figure out what they define exactly. They often are intertwined with religion or “faith,” as Heintzeman said.

And that usually leads to the obvious question: whose religion and whose faith?

In Big Stone County, the chairman of the Republican Party is defining those values, at least for his neck of the woods.

Jack Whitley posted this yesterday on his Facebook page.


When he heard some criticism from Muslims, he didn’t back down late this morning, further clarifying the relationship between “terrorist” and “Muslim”.


“It’s very disturbing to see a Republican Party leader engage in outright bigotry and hate,” the Council for American-Islamic Relations said in a statement calling on Republicans to disavow Whitley’s values. “Without a clear rejection of these inaccurate and intolerant remarks, the party’s silence will appear to be agreement.”

“You have the right to follow any path of religion you choose, as long as it does not violate other people’s peace,” Whitley tells the Star Tribune. “Your association with those in your religion who have those terrorist activities, and your unwillingness to call them on the carpet for it? No, you no longer have the right to practice that religion if it infringes on the peace and the tranquility of this nation and the people around you. That nullifies your constitutional right to practice your freedom of religion.”

But that’s not at all the choice he gave Muslims in Minnesota. He said in his post that they need to “repent, except (sic) Jesus Christ, or leave the country.”

For the record, CAIR condemned ISIS long ago and did so again just this week.

“Just as we have denounced previous killings of innocent civilians by the ISIS terrorist group, we condemn the barbaric murder of Peter Kassig and once again repudiate the anti-Islamic ideology that produces such brutality. We also offer our sincere condolences to Mr. Kassig’s family and loved ones,” the CAIR statement on Sunday said.

Update 3:14 p.m. – Keith Downey, chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, issued this statement (h/t: Tim Pugmire) :

I condemn the outrageous comments posted on Mr. Whitley’s Facebook page. They could not be further from the Republican Party’s beliefs, nor more contrary to the efforts we have undertaken to include Muslim Americans, and every American, in our Party. We recently moved our office into the heart of Minneapolis, were proud to endorse our first Somali-American candidate for the state legislature, and have worked hard to welcome the fine Americans from these communities into our Party.”

““How such a violently bigoted person can hold a position of leadership in the Minnesota Republican Party is confounding and absolutely unacceptable,” DFL Chair Ken Martin said in a statement which called on Downey to demand Whitley quit his party position.