Superior mayor tests a right to hate the Obamas

Bruce Hagen, the mayor of Superior, Wis., is in trouble with some of his constituents for making a personal opinion on his Facebook page, adding more fuel to a growing debate in America: What link should there — or shouldn’t there — be between someone’s personal opinion (no matter how insipid) and their public role?

People can’t see what Hagen wrote on his page unless they’ve actively “friended” him.

Here’s what he wrote beneath a picture of Michelle Obama:

Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for.”

Groups opposed to Hagen’s view plan to take it out on his city. In a letter to the Superior Telegram today, they urge a boycott of Superior.

“Recent comments made on social media by Mayor Bruce Hagen have been deemed highly derogatory, disrespectful and of a racist intent that isolates and inflames animosity toward the Islamic community, people of color and debases the good citizens of Superior,” Kym Young of the Superior African Heritage Community wrote in a letter to the Telegram published today.

“Further comments made via news media coverage also show a lack of understanding of the design and principles of the founding of these United States as a country based on freedom of religion and freedom from any religious persecution,” Young said. “This is a secular country, founded on humanist, moral principles with no intent or leaning towards Christianity or any other state sponsored or sanctioned religion, principles or dogmatic idioms.”

The groups want Hagen to resign. The mayor is having none of it.

“I understand what they feel,” he tells the paper. “I don’t totally disagree with their concern. But I, as a citizen, which in the confines of my home, responding to messages that I get — either in my home email or Facebook — I have the right to respond. If the First Amendment is still a force in this nation, I have a right to respond and should, as anybody would and should, and that’s what I did.”

Hagen cancelled a news conference he’d scheduled for today. He’ll issue a written response instead, he tells the Telegram.

  • Gary F

    Just think if Facebook would have been big during W’s presidency? The bad bile was everywhere during his term. But, of course we all know, Obama is different.

    • Rob

      I don’t think anybody called w a muslim

    • Your first sentence doesn’t square with your last sentence. Obama isn’t different than Bush, the technology to amplify voices is.

      Not that the dixie Chicks would know, mind you. :*)

      • Gary F

        Facebook would have been filled with all the bad bile from the left, including that of city officials, and it would be OK.

        • Lindsey

          Okay, so one thing I remember well from Bush’s tenure was if a person disagreed with him or didn’t believe in what he said, that person was labeled as a traitor or an anti-patriot. Conservatives said that because he was our president, you shouldn’t say such things.

          Now, though, Conservatives spew hatred about Obama and it’s not traitorous?

        • Jeff C.

          Are you staying that a stupid prediction makes his hatred OK?

        • Brian

          I suspect you are right. And occasionally someone would have gone too far, the right would have yelled (as the left is yelling here), and that person would have faced unintended consequences. I don’t think the reaction of the left and right to vitriol from the other side is as different as you think.

    • Rob

      Indeed, Obama is different because so many of the tirades against him are driven by racial animus and bigotry.

      • Gary F

        It’s not that he’s a divisive leftist who wants to “functionally transform America”?

        He’s half white too, I don’t like his policies.

        • >>It’s not that he’s a divisive leftist who wants to “functionally transform America”?<<

          Heh, you actually think he's a "leftist"?

          That's precious.

          • Lindsey

            Part of the reason Democrats have issues with Obama are his conservative policies and his war policies. Very leftist indeed…

          • Exactly.

            Many of President Obama’s policies are to the right of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan.

          • Jerry

            Of course he’s not a leftist. He can’t be liberal when he is trying to impose Sharia on us.

          • I keep forgetting that…

          • Khatti

            Details…details…

          • kevins

            Wow…someone actually up-voted you. Cloning?

          • Jerry

            Poe’s Law strikes again.
            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

            Unless you’re genuinely upset about me pointing out the incompatibility of common right wing beliefs about the President.

          • kevins

            Thanks for the link..it clears up the obscurity I am often encumbered by. Have a great Christmas!.

        • chris

          “divisive leftist” is just baseless trolling. Here’s some news for you, Obama won election twice. He is not obligated to enact republican approved policies. Following an agenda that got him elected is not divisive. Divisive is saying that from day 1 the entire GOP will oppose anything Obama wants to do regardless of the merits.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            “He is not obligated to enact republican approved policies”

            Do you mind if I use that next year?

          • jon

            You do know that next year the president will be… Obama!

            Clinton/Sanders/Trump/Cruz/Rubio wouldn’t take office until Jan. 20th 2017.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            I’m pretty sure everyone else got it.

          • Nick K

            So you would support this argument: the people of the United States elected Republican majorities in the House and Senate; they are not obligated to enact Democratic approved policies?

          • chris

            Obama campaigned on a specific agenda, including major health care reform, and ending the war in Iraq, and he won. Pushing to enact those policies can’t then be called “divisive” just because republicans are sore losers.

            Legislators are supposed to work together to enact bipartisan solutions to problems people care about. Tax cuts for the wealthy are not among them.

            One thing to note is that in both the house and senate, because of gerrymandering and the fact that even small states have two senators, democratic house and senate members actually received more votes in aggregate than republicans even though they hold fewer seats.

          • Nick K

            Presidents are supposed to lead. Leadership involves doing more then saying “my way or no way”. I reject your notion that a President is elected to get all of his/her policies enacted and legislators are just there to rubber stamp it. You’re dislike of politicians running on tax cutting promises is something you’ll have to work through on your own.

            You’re point about majorities is just flat wrong. In 2014, Republicans in House elections won 52% of the vote (and got 57% of the seats – so even in some redone system, they’d still rule). http://www.thenation.com/article/republicans-only-got-52-percent-vote-house-races/

            You can moan about the Senate all you want, but the only reason small states ever agreed to adopt the Constitution was the protection offered by having every state have equal share in one of the chambers of Congress.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            You’re right. Obama did make good on both his threats promises. The fact that both concluded with unmitigated disasters make it cause for sustained criticism. America lost, not just the GOP; and yeah, we’re plenty sore about it.

        • Rob

          Aside from Obama’s position on gun control, name a few other policies you’re opposed to.

        • Rob

          Give me an objective source for your claim that Obama is a divisive leftist who wants to functionally transform America. The Blaze and Sean Hannity don’t count.

        • Khatti

          Everyone who has lived here more than ten minutes wants to “functionally transform America.” The argument is whether you will find my transformations to your taste.

      • Fred, Just Fred

        So, is your finely tuned racial bigotry detector telling you people are hating his white half, or black?

        And if they hate the black half, doesn’t his white half privilege cancel it?

        This whole race thing is so cryptoclastic.

        • Rob

          Cryptoclastic? WTF?

      • jon

        I don’t think that most people who oppose Obama for no particular reason other than that he is Obama are racists… (Though, some of them are.)

        I do however think that a great many people have bought into a line of propaganda about the current sitting president that doesn’t reflect reality (like that he’s a leftist, muslim, kenyan, fascist, dictator, destroying democracy in the US with sharia law).

        A few weeks/months ago a meme with Obama and the text “if I just quit would that make you happy?” appeared on facebook, and the comments read “YES!”
        One from a friend of mine, whom I don’t think is racist, I asked him why having Biden doing the exact same thing with the exact same policies would make him happier… I wasn’t satisfied with the answer of “one less clown” (because even knocking down Obama another democrat would take his place, and another bidens, and so on. resulting in no fewer “clowns”)

        So yeah, it looks like racism, because it’s unbridled hatred for an individual who is also a minority, but the reality is it’s targeted propaganda against an individual rather than a policy, or even a party platform, and that leads us to a point where we can get confused about why all the hate… because there isn’t any reason behind it other than some one swallowed the wrong line of propaganda.

        • Rob

          But what does it mean when people oppose Obama just because he’s Obama? What’s behind it?

    • PaulJ

      Leaders are all alike, actually everyone is all alike. Go to New Guinea; diversity? Nope, just like everyone else.

    • chris

      Well, one difference is that people didn’t like W because he invaded and occupied a country that hadn’t attacked us and got a lot of people killed.

      Obama tried to get health care for everyone.

      So hard to say there is equivalency in why they aren’t appreciated from the other side of the aisle.

      • Nick K

        Fun revisionist history lesson you’re giving. You know that the war in Iraq was authorized by Congress, right? You know that it had bipartisan support, right? You know that 58% of Democratic Senators (among them Clinton and Biden) voted IN FAVOR OF GOING TO WAR.

        • chris

          A lot of people, democrats included, were cowardly in not opposing the war, but it was Bush’s war, he was President, he was at the podium declaring mission accomplished.

          • Nick K

            But you can’t seem to find it in yourself to blame Obama for any of the failings of his presidency (its all Congress’ fault). Odd

          • chris

            Like what?

        • Rob

          Yup. Repub and Dem legislators alike showed a paucity of moral courage.
          Oh, wait – Obama and Sanders voted no.

          • Obama wasn’t a Senator at the time of the vote, but expressed his opposition to the war.

          • Rob

            Thanks for correction

          • I was just preempting someone else jumping all over your post.

            🙂

    • kennedy

      There was plenty of public vitriol being expressed in all communication channels available during his presidency. The undertone of your post hints that you feel the public forum is (or was) somehow unfair. Do you think social media itself favors (or hinders) a particular party or political agenda?

    • kevins

      Did someone say W was a Muslim? I missed that!

    • lindblomeagles

      First Gary, you’ve written to News Cut for a long time. Everybody here understands how you personally feel about an African American President for the United States. I’m not going to dance around the daisies because you are uncomfortable with being honest with the rest of us about your feelings. Second, George W. Bush was criticized predominantly for going to war in Iraq, the ineffectiveness of “No Child Left Behind,” the unpreparedness of the federal government during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the collapse of the economy that produced the Great Recession. Even Republican voters, by the end of George’s second term, came to agree that George W. Bush was not the best man for the Presidency. Third, nothing the Superior Mayor said is accurate because what he said was a racist statement intent on cultivating more racist hatred toward the Obamas. Barack Obama isn’t Muslim. Never has been. Even if he was, Bruce Hagen was trying to plant the seed that Muslim (terrorists) are trying to take our America (from WASPs) from us. Barack has never been a terrorist, and he’s never tried to pass Islam onto anyone. Obama also isn’t destroying the fabric of democracy. That trophy belongs to you, Gary, and people of your ilk . . . people who KNOWINGLY elect WASPS to Congress for the sole purpose of not allowing the Government to do its job. Congress isn’t supposed to rubber stamp everything any President says or does. We all know that. But IT SHOULD COLLABORATE AND GET THINGS ACCOMPLISHED. The lack of Congressional accomplishments has EVERYTHING to do with a body of elected officials sent their to stop Congress from doing that – sent by people like you Gary – the “over my dead body club!” It’s people of your ilk that is forcing change on our country. Not President Obama.

  • In the popularity contest known as local politics this might have been a good play for his next election.

    Unfortunately, as evident with our current presidential race name calling, finger pointing, and outlandish statements are the political platforms which generate a lot of support.

  • Rob

    Wow. Superior is blessed to have such an insightful, knowledgeable guy as mayor. A truly classy public servant.

    • tboom

      If Hagen himself isn’t embarrassed, I would think the people who voted for him would be embarrassed.

      • Jeff C.

        Sadly, I doubt it. Did the people who voted for Michelle Bachmann feel embarrassed? Maybe a few, but the rest kept voting for her. I stopped feeling sorry for them after they elected her a third time.

        • Fred, Just Fred

          1/2 of the country feels the same way about Obama and his base.

          • kevins

            Bologna!

        • Anne

          I never voted for Bachmann, but I’m still terribly embarrassed for some of my neighbors who did vote for her.

  • MrE85

    There were plenty of reasons to avoid Superior before this distasteful incident, IMHO.
    Still, I have to wonder what universe Hagen lives in. Destroyed the fabric of democracy? Really?

    • Kassie

      For real. We drove through there last summer and I was surprised how run down it was. You’d think it would have some of the charm of Duluth, but no.

      • to its credit, it has a nice airport with a restaurant. It also has…ummm. I’ll get back to you.

      • If you drive down the Sconny side from Superior back down to Minneapolis, you can really see the difference in how the state’s economies are faring.

        The Sconny side is just depressing…

      • Fred, Just Fred

        We’ll see how charming Duluth is after a few years of no mining. I’d employ the schadenfreude sparingly if I were you.

    • Postal Customer

      its liquor stores are open sundays. somehow minnesota still can’t handle that.

      • MrE85

        If you lived in Superior, you would want to drink on the Sabbath, too.

  • Jay Sieling

    I think any headline from that location should always include the state. “Superior mayor” vs “Superior, WI mayor” – helps avoid an oxymoron.

  • PaulJ

    I doubt if he’ll be thinking he is so d*mm superior for long. It’d be interesting to know what time of day the posting was made (ever say Nyet to Alcohol?).

  • BReynolds33

    This about sums it up (full version this time).

  • chris

    I think Hagen has a right to show his ignorance. Such hyperbole as “destroyed the fabric of our democracy” does the job. Superior is not doing so well compared to Duluth, which is strange since one has a democratic mayor in a state governed by democrats, and the other doesn’t, so maybe Hagen is just trying to find a distraction.

  • Fred, Just Fred

    Just think; all those hundreds of thousands of Superior vacations up in smoke. Tour ship cancellations; empty hotels. The horror.

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    This is a long one, but, please, bear with me.
    Something about this story, and Mayor Bruce Hagen’s reasoning, doesn’t make much sense.
    According to MPR and the various Wisconsin and Minnesota media outlets that have covered the story, Mayor Hagen initially claimed, in a Facebook post under a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama that “she and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for”.
    Don’t think Mayor Hagen’s correct, but let’s consider the possibility that he’s right and not just Far Right.
    The locals up in Superior, including five City Council members, didn’t much agree with Mayor Hagen, according to The Duluth News Tribune, and asked him to either admit that he goofed up and apologize or, if he didn’t feel he’d made a mistake, to resign his post as mayor.
    In response, Mayor Hagen told The News Tribune: “But I, as a citizen, … in the confines of my home, responding to messages that I get — either in my home email or Facebook — I have the right to respond. If the First Amendment is still a force in this nation, I have a right to respond and should, as anybody would and should, and that’s what I did.”
    Correct. The First Amendment allows a U.S. citizen to express his/her views on the political landscape. No doubt.
    Problem is, Mayor Hagen, your initial claim about the President doesn’t agree with your responding defense.
    Goes something like this:
    1. Mayor Hagen claimed the President “destroyed the fabric of democracy”;
    2. Democracy, in this nation, is based on a little document called the U.S. Constitution;
    3. The First Amendment to the Constitution governs free speech;
    4. BUT, if as Mayor Hagen claims, democracy is kaput today, that means the Constitution is no more. And no Constitution means there’s no free speech.
    5. EXCEPT Mayor Hagen’s been exercising his free speech rights all day on Dec. 22.
    6. No government agents at his door.
    7. No FBI agents yanked him out of his office or home.
    8. No military troops transported him to one of those “FEMA Reeducation Camps” (sic) that are all the fictional rage (well, the camps are fiction, but the rage is real) among the Tea Party set.
    In short, Mayor Hagen’s still Mayor Hagen. He’s just Mayor Hagen with a lot of locals not too pleased with his stoking up a blizzard of dislike right before their Christmas (and the upcoming Packers game).
    Mayor Hagen’s still on Facebook. And the local television and radio stations. And in the newspaper. He’s even made it all the way to The Hill newspaper in D.C.
    Doesn’t look like President Obama and the First Lady took away his, or our democracy. And Mayor Hagen needs to only read his own press clippings, watch his own TV interviews, or hear his own radio appearances to confirm that democracy, contrary to his claims, remains the usual clumsy, sometimes ugly, often uncivilized, imperfect, and downright US of A proud system “Of, By, And For the People” that it’s always been.
    Instead, it seems that Mayor Hagen has soiled all over himself and now repeatedly refuses to admit that he needs an apology to the locals, a warm bath, and a clean pair of duds.
    Happy Holidays to all and, especially, Texas Ag Czar Sid Miller.

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    Mr. Collins,
    There’s a story linked to Superior, Wisc. Mayor Bruce Hagen that bears monitoring.
    The KBJR-KDLH newsroom staff reported Dec. 22 “Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen says he will not resign” the following:
    “On Tuesday those community groups commented that if Hagen did not step down that they would implement ‘A complete shutdown of all traffic and business entering the mayor’s office and Superior City Hall.’
    “Group members are also planning an economic boycott of events sponsored by the City.”
    I most certainly oppose any effort to prevent or attempt to prevent citizens from entering any city hall or any elected mayor’s office. Ours is a government “of, by, and for the People”. No one prohibits or attempts to prohibit the People from entering their own public “house”, i.e. city hall, in this case.
    However, the story included information from the Superior Police Department that I found equally disturbing:
    “The Superior Police department are also planning ahead for the scheduled protest.
    ” ‘It’s important for everyone to understand that you can’t block the sidewalks for the public to use, you can’t block city streets. Those things are covered very specifically in the Wisconsin statues regarding unlawful assembly. The same thing holds true for the Douglas County Government Center,’ said Assistant Chief, Matthew Markon for the Superior Police Department.
    “Markon added that its not the goal of the department to make arrests, but simply to keep the peace.”
    I strongly suggest that someone from MPR contact Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander and/or Superior Police Assistant Chief Matthew Markon and respectfully inquire as to what sort of plans he, they, or their department intend to deploy.
    A group of citizens threatening to block or actually blocking access to city hall is wrong.
    A group of police officers threatening to break or actually breaking heads, whether it be right after the Christmas season or not, is equally wrong.
    Last I checked, two wrongs don’t make a right; not even a Far Right.

  • Ben Chorn

    In the words of White Iron Band from their song “Drunk in Duluth”

    “Sometimes this place, is heaven on Earth
    Compared to what’s over the bridge.”

  • Khatti

    I’m fascinated by the reaction people have to Barack Obama; they seem to feel they’re dealing with Fu Manchu or Doctor Doom rather than a working politician. They’re not tossing our metaphors or similes, they really seem to believe what’s coming out of their mouths is the literal truth. It’s never a good sign when political junkies are more immature than comic book collectors.

  • Khatti

    However, it may not be Obama, it might simply be the nature of the office today. If you didn’t vote for whoever the next president will be, she/he will be personally responsible for everything from the French Revolution to your dishwasher breaking down.

    • tboom

      “W” was responsible for my dishwasher too?

  • WC JV

    For eight years the left thought GW was the end of the world. And now for eight years the right is certain that Obama is. Divide and conquer is alive and well in the 21st century. It’s like we’re marionettes.

  • kevins

    Actually, I’m glad that people assert their free speech rights in cases like this, because it is far more informative for the citizenry than if social or political forces make elected officials keep their true beliefs under their hat. Words have consequences, so keep talking mayor.

  • MrE85

    Hagen was quoted when he was running for his 5th (and final) term: “I care about the image of the community…” Perhaps he should stay off Facebook from now on.

  • Fred, Just Fred

    I was just listening to NPR news. It was a story about the slaughter ISIS is inflicting on Christians in areas it controls. Daily crucifixions, hangings, beheadings, burnings, Soviet style mass shootings. The narrator said it is straight up convert or die.

    England is about the declare it a genocide.

    But, the story continues, Obama and his minions haven’t even been able to admit ISIS is Muslim, much less that they are targeting Christians. They aired an Obama functionary that, as the narrator described it, paused for an agonizingly long time before deflecting the question altogether.

    I don’t know that meets the evidentiary standard necessary to conclude that Obama is Muslim, but is it clear he is determined to shield Islam from as much stain as he can.

    It is also clear that some left leaning media is becoming uncomfortable with his behavior. It’s only a matter of time until they get the herd turned around.

    I think, right or wrong, given the evidence, the mayor may be forgiven for settling on his conclusion; the lingering outrage from stubborn, self righteous leftists withstanding.

    • Jay T. Berken

      My buddy recently had a baby girl. He is in his early forties and has lived the bachelor life all his adult life doing whatever he wanted. I told him saying that your little girl will change your life for the better, but a word to the wise, just when you think you think you have control with this little girl, watch out! That is when you lose the control. It is easy for us to be the Monday morning quarterback, hurling accusations at our leaders for not doing the right thing or not caring enough. Until you know the whole story and, if could, walk in their shoes, one really doesn’t know what is going on. You are correct; we will see if the mayor’s diatribe of the president is warranted and a “shot across the bow”, or we will forget about him next week and he will be defeated in re-election. Personally, I think the mayor is an asshole and should respect his office and the people he represents. I am also tired of this mentality of just acting all knowing and running into the fire without a plan. https://youtu.be/Y51IFVB-7Oc

      • Fred, Just Fred

        “One really doesn’t know what is going on”

        Classic denial in the face of overwhelming evidence of mass murder. Read about it happening during the late 1940’s….it doesn’t get any less noxious with age.

        • Jay T. Berken

          You mean the ’30s.

          • Fred, Just Fred

            No. I mean the 40’s. No one needed to deny anything until May 8, 1945.