Local paper prints dehumanizing article

UPDATE!

bonhoeffersilenceevilThe Newsleaders heard you LOUD AND CLEAR, #unitecloud! Because of your phone calls and e-mails (“negative feedback” as it was described in the e-mail I received) they have made a decision about Ron, the author of the article comparing immigrants to vermin, writing for them in the future. Here is what the leadership told me via e-mail:

“We also have severed ties with Ron.”

and in further explanation:

“Ron has written on and off for us since he lived in Sartell for many years before retiring and moving south. In an effort to balance what a lot of people perceive as the Newsleaders’ too liberal viewpoints, we allowed him to spew, thinking most rational adults would see through his blatant stereotypes, innuendos and over exaggerations. We now realize we cannot morally nor ethically continue our relationship with him.”

Thank you, #unitecloud, for speaking out against this hateful message, and for the wonderful conversation that took place on our Facebook page.

We are planning our reaction to Usama’s talks at the end of May, so, stay tuned for more details. We know you’re with us! 🙂

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il_fullxfull-207367739Free speech: a right we have in this country, so says the first amendment.

Free speech is the reason I can write this blog. A couple of our blog posts have been seen by tens of thousands of people. We take that very seriously. We do not write or share anything on here flippantly because we know that you, #unitecloud, are faithful to share the information that we post with your friends and family.

As the Executive Director of #unitecloud, I understand that the platform that I have been given to speak comes with immense responsibility.

Free speech is also the reason why people like Usama Dakdok, a Christian pastor, can come here at the end of this month to tour Central MN (Little Falls, Burtrum, Avon, and St. Cloud) and promote his extremely anti-Muslim message. How do I know he is anti-Muslim and why do I call him extreme? Here are some direct quotes from a speech he gave in Ohio in 2012:

IMG_20151020_usama-dakdok“There will come a time when American Muslims will have the upper hand and they will kill your children.” 

“Someday we will have a revival among Muslims in America and that’s when they will start beheading your children and grandchildren.”

“We are firing workers in America at Tyson chicken (meat packing plants). We’re firing Mexican workers to replace them with Muslims from Somalia.”

“Some people, like CAIR, will tell you I promote hate speech. No. We love Muslims. And I love Muslims right. Some Christians in America don’t love Muslims right. But I love Muslims right.”

4 days of that kind of talk being promoted at area VFWs, supper clubs, and here in St. Cloud at a local church (Granite City Baptist) is dangerous.

There is a small fraction of people in our area that are openly anti-Muslim, and yes, most of them are Christian. As a Christian myself, it pains me to my very core that this is going on. These are my people, my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. They read the same Bible I do and praise the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each week in their services. Yet, when they meet Haji in public, they yell at him, saying he is going to strap a bomb on one day and blow up all of St. Cloud. Please see clearly with me that, if the people that are attending Usama’s talk this month are already yelling at Haji and I in public, we are one tiny step away from violence. I am not trying to be fantastical when I say that I am surprised that we haven’t had violence directed towards our Muslim neighbors.

Why do I say that? Because we are well into the dehumanizing process when it comes to certain people groups in this country. What proof do I have of that? So much. So, so, much. I’ll lay out the most recent case for this fact.

bQ0oW00RThe Newsleaders is a paper that covers news in Sauk Rapids, Sartell, and St. Joseph. An article was published from a guest writer named Ron Scarbro. He used to live in this area, but now lives in Georgia. He writes about a pest control problem but, as you read his article, you realize he is talking about people. To end his vitrol, he says:

“So, these are your choices. Be socially responsible and leave them alone to continue on their destructive path, start a dialogue with them in the hope they will leave your house alone in favor of finding another way to feed themselves and their families or just send them packing. Being a fair-minded individual, I believe you will make the right decision. The home you save may be your own, as well as everyone else’s.”

When we allow voices that compare human beings to pests and vermin to be amplified, we have lost all sense of decency and morality.

 

Does The Newsleaders have the “right” to print this article? Sure. Is it responsible for them to amplify this message of dehumanization? No. It is up to us – especially their target audience – to tell them that this is unacceptable…and some people from our #unitecloud Facebook page did just that when we broke this story yesterday.

Overheard on the #unitecloud Facebook page after learning of and reading this article:

“Omg. I’m stunned that he put this in writing – “pests and vermin” ???”

“Appalled. Everyone ought to reach out to the newleaders and voice their opinions on this immediately. Unbelievable.”

“He doesn’t even live locally! He lives in GA! Why is this guy even writing for our local paper? Disgusting.”

 “They rely on advertising. I recommend that we contact those who advertise in this paper so they are aware of what they are supporting.”

“I love the hypocrisy. Hahaha. Let’s blame a bunch of people for stuff they haven’t done but ignore the crime your own race does every day.”

“Thank you for sharing the Newsleader’s contact info. There’s a difference between free speech and hate speech. It’s appalling.”

“Just posted my review of my hometown newspaper: Yesterday, 5 stars, today 1. As a Sartell resident, I am disgusted by the recent article that can be summarized as follows: refugees/immigrants are vermin. I understand that it was an “opinion” piece, but I think at best, compassion, and at least, human decency are standards that should prevail nonetheless. Appalling.”

“This man and his column are totally disgusting. He has no place in your (Newsleader) paper. That you allow him to spew this garbage is beyond me. How does this help our problems? This man does not live here. His opinion is unwelcome.”

I sent a(n angry) message via Facebook and got an almost instantaneous response saying they are working on printing a retraction in a later edition.”

That right there is hope, folks. Good people like YOU are moving out of indifference and into action in Central MN. When we see something we find unacceptable, we say something. That is why this area is changing – for the better.

But, because we are speaking out and standing up for our neighbors, those among us that believe that it is EVER ok to dehumanize ANYONE are getting angry. We’ve stirred the hornets nest and they are buzzing mad. They are calling in back up, like Usama. They are spreading their message to anyone that will listen through newspapers, blogs, speeches, and even around the dinner table. We’ve heard stories of business leaders in this area calling for all Somalis to have their own public school. I’ve personally talked with Christians – and not just ones from Granite City Baptist – that truly believe that Muslims will eventually kill us all and their evidence is that Somali people have more babies than “us” so that they can become the majority and then take us out.

Reality check: this is what we are up against, #unitecloud.

13178588_1317398451622775_6362024134550954745_nAnother reality check: We are strong in this fight because we are TOGETHER in this fight. When you speak out, you are not alone. When you stand up for your neighbors, all of #unitecloud stands with you.

Stand with us. Speak out with us. Unite with us. Love wins. Community wins. #unitecloud wins. Through yelling? No. Through being rude to others? No. Through binding together in our common bond of humanity. HECK, YES.

Who’s with us?

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About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as Executive Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN and is a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University). She is a member of multiple boards, including the St Cloud School District 742 board, the United Way Community Impact Team, and the United Way's education initiative, Partner for Student Success. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children, making music and playing games.