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.