SD lawmaker: Interfaith dialogue is ‘part of a war’

It was Interfaith Day Wednesday at the South Dakota capitol in Pierre. About 50 people, representing several religions, gathered in the rotunda to pray; an example of people of different faiths coming together.

Then Sen. Neal Tapio, R-Watertown, the former state campaign chair for Donald Trump, happened by, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader says.

The group asked him to pose for a photo.

It was going well until Tapio shouted, “I don’t like being called a racist.”

He stressed the need to ban travel to the United States by Muslim individuals, particularly from Muslim-majority countries where groups have supported Sharia law.

“If you don’t have the freedom to leave a religion, is there a freedom of religion?” Tapio said. “And that’s the question we have to asks ourselves as a state.”

As Tapio stepped away from the group he told reporters that the interfaith day was a “political movement.”

Those on the steps continued to pose for photos, this time without him.

Around Tapio, coalition members started singing “America the Beautiful,” temporarily muffling Tapio’s comments.

In a statement, Tapio said “hiding behind an interfaith group and then using terrorist style bullying tactics in the press is a slap in the face of every patriotic American service member that signed up to defend freedom.”

Related: Republican gubernatorial candidate Phillip Parrish won’t talk with interfaith leader about faith because “Islam is ultimately not a faith” (Bluestem Prairie)

  • jon
  • MrE85

    Come here, Senator Tapio. This patriotic American (former) service member wants to show you a thing or two about slaps in the face.

    PS: You’re a racist.

  • MrE85

    This guy was Trump’s campaign manager for South Dakota. As you might guess, his peculiar views of the world have made headlines before.

    • RBHolb

      Inviting Trump’s campaign manager to an interfaith event–what could possibly go wrong?

  • Rob

    With his desire to live in a non-diverse, monolithic whitebread universe, I’m thinking a good nickname for Tapio would be “Tapioca.”

    I’m beginning to think that when Repubs use the term “American Exceptionalism,” they mean that they support an America that’s for everybody – except non-white immigrants and people of non-Christianist faiths.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      I don’t know if our neighbors to the north would be happy about calling him Tapioca. The obvious website address would be

      • Rob


    • QuietBlue

      Ironic, too, since tapioca is enjoyed around the world in many forms.

      Now I’m craving bubble tea…

      • Rob

        Loves me a beverage with gluey little globs in it!

  • AL287

    All Muslims are NOT terrorists.

    To invade a gathering, the intention of which is to promote unity not division is a political grandstanding stunt intended to disrupt and incite discord.

    People in general fear what they don’t understand. The problem with Tapio is he has no desire to understand a religion other than his own because he might have to adjust his world view which is the classic definition of a bigot.

    We need to adopt an immigration policy similar to Canada’s. You are not allowed in unless you speak English or French fluently, are under 60 years old and have a marketable skill to support yourself and your family should you have one (There is a list on Canada’s immigration website if you’re curious).

    • Ben Chorn

      The one thing lost on a lot of people wanting a travel ban is they don’t understand that not everyone coming from a country wants to harm the US. For example, I have a coworker who is here from Iran. She went to college in the US, got married here, but is still dealing with immigration issues because of where she’s from. In her words, “I want to be here, I don’t want to go back there. I’m on (the US’) side.”

      • Rob

        I agree, but would say that the number of people coming to the U.S. who want to harm it is de minimis.

    • Rob

      Canada’s policy of excluding people who don’t speak fluent English or French and only accepting people under 60 years old sounds bigoted and ageist to me.

      • Mike

        Is Canada’s refugee program separate from this policy?

        If it is, then their stance seems quite intelligent to me. Immigration should be in part (and is, in many countries) tailored to the national interest: who can best assimilate, work, and strengthen the destination country. That, coupled with a modest humanitarian allowance for refugees, would appear to be a wise immigration policy.

      • AL287


        It saves the cost of paying interpreters when they need medical care, which adds hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to provide care for chain migration immigrants in the US who have no intention of learning English.

        I’ve seen it with my own eyes after working as a medical chart auditor.

        The policy also eliminates the need for ESL teachers in K-12 schools.

        French is a required language for the province of Quebec, the overwhelming majority of whom speak French as their primary language.

        I see nothing bigoted about it. It saves the Canadian government money which frees up those resources for their socialized medical system to provide their citizens access to basic medical care and provide a decent education for their children.

        Sounds very sensible to me.

        • Rob

          I love that: “immigrants who have no intention of learning English.”

          • AL287

            These are immigrants who are over 65 and have not made regular contributions to Social Security and Medicare (through regular payroll deductions) unlike their younger family members who intend to get further training and education.

            Why should they learn English when they have family members or interpreters provided to do the talking for them?

            I know this is the situation after working as a home health nurse in North St. Paul.

            I do not feel that I should have to pay for their expensive medical care and interpreters on top of it because the powers that be approved a lousy immigration policy.

            Fix the damn immigration policy!

          • Jared

            So the only added cost for them is interpreters which I doubt get paid very highly. It seems like the same argument can be made to get rid of anyone on social security and medicare, no matter what language they speak. Why should I have to pay for their expensive medical care when I likely won’t get the same benefits when I’m older?

            Also, you seem to acknowledge that the younger generation provides a necessary contribution to our society. Do you honestly believe many of them would immigrate here if they were forced to leave their elderly parents in another country without someone caring for them?

          • Kassie

            You don’t understand American immigration policy. You are speaking from a place of ignorance and you come off as xenophobic.

            The United States does not allow 65 year olds who don’t speak English to immigrate here except in the case of sponsorship or refugees. Those who do come here at an advanced age (except refugees) must be sponsored by a family member. That family member agrees to cover all expenses for the immigrant until one of them dies or the immigrant becomes a US citizen. The sponsor must prove they have sufficient income to provide for the immigrant.

            Refugees, we allow in at any age, just like Canada does. English is not a requirement for refugees either here or in Canada. You were probably working with refugees and we have the same policy toward them as you find in Canada and all of the rest of the world that accepts refugees.

            Also, your policy does not eliminate the need for ESL in schools. Even if the parent speaks English, the child doesn’t necessarily speak English. Or are you suggesting not allowing six year olds who haven’t learned English yet? It also doesn’t speak to children born in the United States, citizens, who don’t speak English and need ESL in the schools. Or children of refugees.

            And the thought that immigrants don’t want to learn English is ridiculous. There is a huge need for English teachers for immigrants here in Minnesota. It is difficult to learn English as an adult and there are wait lists for classes. Instead of judging people, maybe consider learning to be a teacher and help them learn the language.

          • Rob

            Your idea of a fix is waaaaay different than mine.

        • Jared

          Sometimes immediate costs are needed to stand by our ideals and to better our future. By demanding everyone speak English, you weaken their connection to their culture. It all sounds very similar to the argument of America being a melting pot, therefore
          these immigrant communities should be forced to convert to our culture.

          America is a salad, best served well mixed but not blended, with each component contributing its own unique flavor.

          • AL287

            They are not going to lose their connection to their culture because they learn English.

            School in the United States is taught in English, not Spanish, Hmong, Chinese, etc.

            Medical care is provided in English and that includes directions on prescription bottles.

            My father was born here to immigrant Finnish parents. He spoke Finnish until he entered school. His parents learned English. It wasn’t perfect English but they learned it.

            It is not impossible for elderly relatives to learn English. It might take them longer but they can learn it.

          • Barton

            So, you are saying it is okay that your relatives arrived not able to speak the language before they could enter because why? That’s incredibly hypocritical of you.

          • AL287

            My paternal grandparents emigrated at the turn of the 20th Century when quotas were in effect. English wasn’t required then just as it is today.

          • Rob

            But I bet they came over not intending to learn English. And I hope they never needed medical care, so that no time or financial resources were devoted to helping them understand the medicos and help them follow their scrips properly.

          • Barton

            So you admit that you want today’s immigrants to be treated differently than your grandparents were? Very hypocritical of you.

          • AL287

            Yes, I do so I guess I’m not a hypocrite after all. A great majority of us would not be here if our ancestors had been required to learn English before entrance to the U. S.

            I really regret not being young enough to emigrate to Canada and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever say that.

          • Jay T. Berken

            “It saves the cost of paying interpreters when they need medical care, which adds hundreds of thousands of dollars every year”

            “Medical care is provided in English and that includes directions on prescription bottles.”

            “His parents learned English. It wasn’t perfect English but they learned it.”

            So you expect people to know English for medical care? You do know that this does not make sense. I grew up in the US (3rd generation) speaking/taught English and still need a interpreter for medical care. (now you can make fun of me that I speak Wisconsin, but that is beside the point). How do you expect to test immigrants to know medical care English before entering the country, especially so your precious tax dollars don’t go to interpreters? How can you say immigrants need to know medical speak with having the double standard of your Finnish grandparents knowing imperfect English? How much English do they need to know? You have a good time writing out that standard.

          • AL287

            Patients need to be able to read the directions on their prescription bottles.

            I don’t know of any pharmacy that labels prescription bottles in a foreign patient’s native language unless it only serves patients who speak that language.

            I always taught patients in plain English, not in medical jargon which is rude and condescending and doesn’t help the patient.

            I didn’t teach non English speakers. There was an interpreter for that.

            Health outcomes in non-English speaking patients are worse.

            And our healthcare system still hasn’t solved the lack of coordination when a patient is discharged from the hospital and goes home and that goes for fluent English speakers and those that aren’t.

            Lack of detailed communication after discharge is the leading cause of readmission within 30 days of discharge, especially in the elderly. It is bad enough that Medicare imposes a penalty on hospitals when it happens.

            Google it if you don’t believe me.

          • Angry Jonny

            You are assuming that all patients are literate in their spoken language, English or otherwise?

          • AL287

            Yes, but you’ve raised an interesting point

            Illiteracy is a common problem in developing countries where a basic education is not readily available especially where women are concerned.

          • OK, I googled. I came up with:

            The five conditions with the most Medicare readmissions in 2011 were:

            Congestive heart failure, non-hypertensive (which had 134,500 30-day readmissions);
            Septicemia, not including labor (92,900 readmissions);
            Pneumonia, not including that caused by STIs or tuberculosis (88,800 readmissions);
            Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis (77,900 readmissions); and
            Cardiac dysrhythmias (69,400 readmissions).


          • AL287

            Now add all those numbers up and multiply them by 10,000 and you get an idea of the scope of the problem and I’m using $10,000 as an average cost of a three day ICU stay and that is a very conservative estimate.

            The actual cost is likely much higher considering inflation and the region of the U.S.

            Nearly 4 billion dollars a year if we would just do a better job of followup after discharge.

            Seems like such a simple solution but in the three years I have done chart audits only 20% of them passed.

            We have a lot of work to do. $22,428,000,000 worth.

          • that’s not what you argued.

            You said. “Lack of detailed communication after discharge is the leading cause of readmission within 30 days of discharge” and said I could Google it.

            I Googled it and it does nothing to support your contention.

          • AL287

            Now Google healthcare outcomes for Non-English speaking patients and see what you find.

            You’ll come up with a variety of research on a variety of illnesses but this is the one that really got my attention.


          • There’s nothing supporting your original point, either.

            If you’re going to cite something, you should actually provide a link to the data that supports it. Otherwise, it’s conjecture.

          • AL287

            Eliminate the language barrier and the problem is pretty much solved.

            I think the Canadians figured this out long ago.

          • Kassie

            Go read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Language isn’t the barrier. Understanding of medical topics, cultural differences, fear of the US medical system, racism, and other much more difficult to solve things are the reason.

          • // Eliminate the language barrier and the problem is pretty much solved.

            Which problem is it you’re talking about? The problem of actual health issues putting people back in the hospital? You’ve yet to provide a shred of data to show that a language barrier is what put them there in the first place let alone solve the problem of rehospitalization.

            Your entire foundation for your view is based on the assumption that language is the issue so surely you must have the data (I saw it as a nurse isn’t data, that’s anecdote). Show me the data and then I’ll consider your proposed solution that will eliminate the problem.

          • Jay T. Berken

            No one is is expecting you or a prescription bottle to learn the over 100 languages spoken in Minnesota. That is why through interpreters in the short term and ESL in the long term, immigrants in the US can read or understand the medical care they are receiving. Of course if the resources are not there for people to understand the diagnoses, health outcomes are worse no matter who you are. In the US since English is the dominant language of medical care, one who does not get the proper interpretation WILL get the worse outcomes.

            Saying that, what if this day forward the US goes into a closed-looped society with no more immigrants (including English speaking immigrants). Yes, more people will start to speak English as their primary language as new generations come which will save on ESL and interpreters, but US has a lower birthrate (1.84 per women in 2015). This means that you have less people to pay into the pool of medical insurance. It makes the system systematically unstable and costs will go up on your medical care.

          • Rob

            Drizzled with Newman’s Own Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

        • Lindsey

          You can’t make English a requirement of immigration in a country with no official language.

  • Al

    If you don’t like being called a racist… maybe don’t be a racist?

    • Jerry

      Maybe he hates being called a racist because it does a disservice to all his other bigotries. I mean, he probably also hates muslims who are white, if he is aware they exist.

      • jon

        So what is the preferred term then?

        I mean white supremacist and or racists is clearly about race only, Zealot doesn’t include race, which surely has to be a component…

        Maybe some one can string together some latin prefixes/suffixes to get a accurate term? Or we could get one of them super long german words… something that literally translates to “one who hates everything that isn’t of the same race, religion and creed as himself, but prefers to be the one to present that insight to others through his action rather than descriptive terms.”
        Something like: “jemandderalleshasstwasnichtvondergleichenRasseReligionundGlaubensbekenntnisistwieerselbstsondernesbevorzugtderjenigezuseinderdieseEinsichtanderendurchseineHandlungundnichtdurchbeschreibendeBegriffevermittelt”
        If google translate is to be trusted (and the spaces removed for a propper Komposita.)

        • Jerry

          Xenophobe works in a lot of cases

  • RBHolb

    There are certain things we don’t get to decide on our own, and one of them is whether we are legitimately called a racist. There are few self-identified racists in the world, but there are many, many actual racists. It doesn’t matter if that’s how the racists choose to describe themselves. A person is a “racist” based on their attitude, their words, and their actions.

    • “O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
      To see oursels as others see us!
      It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
      An’ foolish notion.” – Robert Burns

      • Rob

        Speak English!! : )

        • I admit I have to have the closed caption on when watching British TV.

          • Barton

            I had a friend visiting Glasgow recently who was having a conversation with a sales person. She asked that person to hold for a minute, called me in MN put me on speaker and asked me to translate! When I got done laughing (and making fun of my friend) I had a very lovely conversation with the lady about rugby and whisky on my friends international calling plan before we discussed that the shirt she wanted to buy would be 30 pounds but “didnae” come in the color she wanted. Easy peasy.

            I still tease my friend about that….

            Happy Burns’ Night on the 25th!

          • Jerry

            Have you ever heard Mary Lucia’s interview with the guy from band Glasvegas? He was amazingly unintelligible.

    • I don’t know if I’ve heard anyone say “I’m not a racist, but….” and not have the words that follow be entirely racist.

      • Angry Jonny

        I’m not a racist, but I think the banana I had at breakfast was a little over-ripe.

        • jon

          You got something against brown bananas?

      • MrE85

        Yep. It’s right up there with “but some of my best friends are (fill in the blank).

  • John F.

    When I lived in North Dakota, I used to attend the Interfaith Week hosted by UND in Grand Forks. At the time, I was a member of a small spiritual group and we had been invited to make a presentation about our beliefs. Everyone was respectful and expressed interest in what we had to say. We did likewise when it time for others to speak. The cool thing is that it wasn’t just religious groups – we also heard presentations from atheist and humanist groups as well.

    There is so much we can learn from each other. I truly feel bad for those who can’t see the value in these events and turn them into something negative.