What’s your problem, 7th District?

The state Republican Party has rightly and swiftly distanced itself from a racist Republican who somehow rose to some sort of a position of leadership in his or her congressional district.

We don’t know which because the party isn’t identifying the person who posted on Facebook the racist photo of Minneapolis congressman Keith Ellison.



All of this sounded familiar. Another 7th District party leader, Jack Whitley, then the chair of Big Stone County Republicans, posted this in November 2014 on Facebook.


Then he doubled down when the criticism started.


His employer, a Hardware Hank store, fired Whitley, and a few weeks later, he resigned his Republican post.

“The Facebook post is in no way reflective of the values of our party or the values of the Seventh Congressional District, and the swift manner in which it was handled and responded to demonstrates our zero tolerance policy for hate speech,” new GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan said about the current mystery person’s Facebook post.

The 7th District is a terrific part of Minnesota full of remarkable people who don’t deserve to be painted with the broad brush that invariably results from the opportunity the occasional racist extremist provides.

Particularly in a rural part of the state, finding people to volunteer for party leadership at the county or district level can be difficult. But the answer isn’t to take whomever is willing to do the job.

Nor is the answer to protect the identity of racists who pollute the party’s name. The party owes the racist no favors.

  • Gary F

    Just wondering about the timing of this story and why someone would post something like this just a day after the Star Tribune reported Ellison has spent $879,000 since January first?

  • MrE85

    Ugh. I’m ready to move to New Zealand.

    • Simple Buyer

      Antarctica, I think, might be safe.

  • kevins

    I live in the 7th and nothing would surprise me. Mr. Peterson is so far right as to be a Republican, and that means that any R running against him has to be equally if not much more to the right. In a district as large as the 7th, there are bound to be a few loose cannons and sadly, skin color and ideology bring them out every now and then.

  • jon

    I said it last time we talked about Jack Whitley, I’ll say it again…

    “Therefore go and make corpses of all nations, fragging ’em in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
    –Matthew 28:19
    New white nationalists translation

  • Every so often someone lets loose with rhetoric that reflects this kind of mindset. The problem for the GOP is that a significant part of their base does share this kind of thinking. We saw it during the presidential campaign and we still see it following Trump’s win, as they feel emboldened. Of course the party leaders act quickly to tamp down the damage, but this situation does continue to bedevil the party and will continue to rear its ugly head.

    • Anna

      There is a saying that has been around for generations, at least the generations of the 20th Century—lead by example.

      When a sitting POTUS can’t keep his American history facts straight (see latest MPR News post about his opinions of Andrew Jackson), admires a former president who caused some of the greatest anguish and hardship on the Cherokee nation, it is no wonder people feel free to let their buried racism and bigotry just hang out including 7th district GOP leaders.

      Ignorance and lack of education are the enemies of a democracy. Unfortunately the majority of the sources we rely on for news have become nothing more than entertainment venues with each one vying for the top of the heap.

      Trump has opened the proverbial “Pandora’s Box” again.

      I think hatred, bigotry and racism have been there all along, just buried deep down until the lid was opened again.

      • MikeB

        We keep thinking we are making progress, but then we see that the old hatreds are seemingly intractable. They are not going away over time.

        • Anna

          I can only imagine what kind of reception my ex would have received had the Iron Curtain still been up today and he escaped from Czechoslovakia today instead of in 1984.

          He still has an irrational hatred of Jews to this day, a prejudice that was instilled in him by his father.

          Children learn what they live.

  • Rob

    If I were the PR counsel for The Repub leadership in the 7th District, I’d be pushing them to drop a dime on this cretin. They aren’t enhancing their (purported) brand in the least by shielding him/her.

  • chris

    I will remember this post the next time I’m asked to consider why people who live in coastal/urban bubbles (most people in the U.S.) don’t give more respect or consideration to the feelings of rural America.

  • Al

    What’s their problem? Well, looks like the 7th GOP is pretty racist. End of story.

  • Barton

    Sigh. Jack W’s rant: “repent EXCEPT Jesus Christ….”

    I do believe by not naming the person responsible they are shielding him/her and allowing this kind of action (and therefore reaction) to continue. At the same time, I get the argument that you want to protect the innocent (which I will say is the employer of the person and his/her family— only assuming they do not hold with such attitudes).

    I think it is time Ms. Carnahan hires a PR person and starts a media policy for the Republicans in MN. So they don’t keep doing such stupid things. I don’t care that they give Republicans a bad reputation: I care that they give Minnesotans a bad reputation.

    • rallysocks

      “At the same time, I get the argument that you want to protect the innocent (which I will say is the employer of the person and his/her family— only assuming they do not hold with such attitudes).”

      In Jack W’s case, no the employers do not…

  • Mike Worcester

    Since that is from an FB page, only certain people would have admin privileges to post under the page name banner rather than as an individual.

    I’ll be curious to see if the party unit does name names.

  • MrE85

    Today’s featured letter to the editor in the Star Tribune makes a common mistake. Just because you elect a woman of Korean heritage to a leadership position and recognize a small group of Somali-American conservatives, does not mean the GOP is now the “big tent” party living in a post-racial world.

    I think Carnahan’s reaction to this vile post was a good start. But it’s only a start. She will have to do more to clearly and forcefully make clear that racism and bigotry have no place in any major political party.

    I wish her luck in their effort.

    • The fallacy is we’re living in a post-racial world. Presumably everyone can agree on that.

      • MrE85

        It’s the people who look like you and me to seem to perpetuate that fallacy, I note. Folks of color rarely do.

      • Simple Buyer

        Uh, no. As long as racism exists, race matters. We’ll be able to suspect we’re post-racism when the demographics of prisons actually reflect the crimes committed and we can slice every race’s income distribution and get about the same numbers from each.

  • Jay T. Berken

    There was an interesting article in the New York Times Opinion articulating what everyone really has come to a reality after Trump became President that this country is being divided on whom is the most discriminated. The rural white Christians are feeling discriminated, while the urban multiculturalism are feeling discriminated. It comes down that the white Christian does not want to give an equal seat at the table and can not face the truth that they are becoming the cultural minority.


  • MrE85

    In an alternative universe, we might have seen a post like this.

    “While we disagree with his politics, the 7th District GOP must admire this fine bird Congressman Keith Ellison bagged recently while hunting with Rep. Collin Peterson. With your help, both men will have plenty of time for turkey hunting after their defeat in 2018.”

    Make your point, but play nice and don’t be a bigot. See how easy it is?

  • Simple Buyer

    Who buys “mystery person’s Facebook post?” Facebook freakin’ knows how many eyelashes I have this week. Nice try, Jennifer. No dice.

  • lindblomeagles

    March 16, 2017. That was the day an African American family in Delano had their home spray painted with racial epithets, a story News Cut reported. We Minnesotans have been here before, as Bob notes in this article. We shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t even the first time Rep. Keith Ellison has been a target of said racism either. Fox regularly shot negative vibes his way since 2006. Again, why are we surprised? I don’t fault the 7th District. I fault Minnesotans who still think Minnesota isn’t racist.