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Intolerance surfaces -- again -- in St. Cloud

What is it about St. Cloud? Two years ago, swastikas started showing up around the St. Cloud State campus, last year KKK cutouts were found (scroll down), and this year, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, public displays of intolerance have returned to St. Cloud. First it was a cross burning and now, well, it's cartoons.

The Associated Press gives the bare bones of the story: anti-Islamic cartoons were posted on two utility poles outside a store that has a large Somali clientele; the AP is vague on the details of the cartoon, except that it contains images of Muhammad and, as might be expected, swastikas. City Pages claims the images include the prophet in "sexually explicit ways," but it's not clear of their source for that. KARE11 reprints a photo from the St. Cloud Times showing a nonplused woman in a head scarf apparently looking at the cartoons; the story by Karla Hult interviews the store owner whose customers seem to be the ones targeted by these cartoons: "Someone who believes in God, or someone who has respect for themselves or other people would never do something like this to anyone. So I believe this person must be someone who's sick." Bob Von Sternberg of the Star Tribune adds a quote from the store's manager: "Right now we're not feeling safe."

In a discouragingly similar story, Rep. Keith Ellison, a convert to Islam, has come under attack for his religion -- but not by anonymous broadsiders in St. Cloud. No, his critic is Lynne Torgerson, who plans to run against Ellison for his seat in Congress. City Pages looks at her website and notices that the anti-Islam rhetoric there is quite heated. "What do I know of Islam? Well, I know of 911," she writes, adding "Keith Ellison simply is not a proper person to have in our federal government. ... Keith Ellison has no business in our federal government." She also repeats a common slander against Muslims: "The Quran actually teaches Muslims to kill people not of their faith, which includes Christians and Jews, which are labeled infidels." (Snopes addresses this, to an extent, pointing out that judging en entire religion based on a single out-of-context religious verse is just as unjust as judging Christianity by Leviticus 24:16, which seems to make a similar exhortation.)

While we're on the subject of heated rhetoric, it's been a big few days for Michele Bachmann, which is no surprise: Her penchant for the spotlight, coupled with her talent for outrageous statements, means that she seems to be having a lot of big days lately. Firstly, PolitiFact recently took the congresswoman to task for her Oct. 30 claim on Sean Hannity's show that the new health care reform bill "says specifically that people can't purchase private health insurance after a date certain." They label this claim "pants on fire," digging into her claim and concluding that they not only "find that she is misinterpreting that one page, but that she's also distorting the other 1,989 pages of a bill that would construct a system largely based on private health insurance."

Whether she has her facts right or not, Bachmann continues to lead the charge against health care reform under the relentless drumbeat that such a thing would be socialism, as Minnesota Independent's Chris Steller reports: "We’re going to kill socialism," the congresswoman declared, and insisted that opponents of the bill must call Congress "every day, when you wake up in the morning and comb your hair and take your vitamins."

There's more stories to report — the congresswoman has been quite busy, including offering cheery props to actor and world-class anti-Obama ranter Jon Voight ("I think he's a great American") and opposing the federal trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; seemingly, her concern is that a federal trial might be an actual trial, and not just a show trial where a conviction is assured ("We would have had 100 percent certainty in a military tribunal, but because of the provisions of reasonable doubt, that could turn into something like 80 percent," she said.)

This kind of talk is famous for angrying up the blood of liberals, but it sounds as though Bachmann isn't exactly doing herself any favors with fellow conservatives: Paul Schmelzer of the Minnesota Independent points out that the National Journal has a forthcoming survey of GOP political insiders saying that Bachmann is at the top of the list of people they want to shut up. Now, she's not at the very top, but that's partially because she's part of a five-way tie: She shares the slot with "Glenn Beck, Iowa Rep. Steve King, Sarah Palin and Georgia Rep. Tom Price." It's also partially because there is one person Republican insiders are seemingly especially keen to have muted: 28 percent of the insiders polled wanted Sarah Palin to whisht, as the Irish say (for those not familiar with Irish, in Yiddish they are looking for Palin to sha, shtil, and makht nisht keyn gerider.)

Of course, there is at least one person who is unabashed in her adoration of Bachmann, having recently signed a note to her that said, "Michele, we love you." That person, according to Baird Helgeson's Hot Dish Politics blog in the Star Tribune, was Sarah Palin.

While Bachmann battles the health care bill, one Minnesota politician still seems sanguine about it: Al Franken. MPR's Phil Picardi sums up the senator's feelings about the subject: "We're very close to insuring 31 million more people," he quotes Franken as saying. "We're very close to very big insurance reforms that will create security for people, that will make sure that you can't be prevented from having a policy because you have a pre-existing condition, that you're not going to go bankrupt if you get sick."

It's a rosy picture, but, at the moment, one not experienced by many Minnesotans, leaving Democratic lawmakers scrambling to find coverage. Specifically, as the Associated Press reports, thanks to Pawlenty's budget cuts, about 35,000 low-income Minnesotans will find themselves without necessary coverage come March, when funding for Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care program runs out. Pawlenty's plans were to simply switch these folks over to MinnesotaCare, but flaws in that plan might cause as many as 13,000 people to lose their coverage. MinnPost's Casey Selix runs down the Dems' plans to address this, which includes increased surcharges and potential federal money.

In sports, there is a follow-up to a story about poor sportsmanship: Hunter Troy Alan Reinke, who was accused of having poached a record-breaking 8-point buck, is now claiming that the deer was dead when he found it and he just put an arrow into its bullet wound in order to claim it, which is a totally credible excuse and we at Daily Glean are glad that case has been cleared up.

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Comments (8)

Every state seems to have one town that just can't shake it's racist image. Here in Minnesota, it's St. Cloud. In Indiana, it's Martinsville, the site of an ugly, race-tinged murder decades ago.

I wonder if stories like this draw racists to St. Cloud, were they can be with "their own kind?" In any case, it is another sad day for that community, and to Minnesota as a whole.

What Congressperson represents St. Cloud? Anyone? Anyone?

St. Cloud is in the Sixth District and represented by Michele Bachmann. Surprised? I'm not.

Can we please talk about issues and stop the comedy routines based on politicians we don't like. Here, I'll go ahead and start: One benefit of having KSM tried in a military tribunal, according to intelligence personnel, is keeping CIA secrets just that...secret. On the other hand, a major benefit of having KSM tried in a wide open public crimminal court, is that the Islamic terrorists can't complain KSM was pushed through a trial just for show and found guilty. Apparently, from former assistant AG's, the case is good enough that KSM will be found guilty in crimminal court. That wasn't so hard!! Some writers can make jokes about the other side of the aisle WHILE arguing issues and supporting thier case....but you don't. Try it!!

I would caution against painting with a broad brush here. It's easy to point fingers and feel superior to the "hicks in St Cloud". We all know that a single individual's actions don't reflect the community as a whole. Also in both the 2006 and 2008 elections Michelle Bachmann lost in St Cloud.

Central MN including St. Cloud is a wellspring of racism and conservative catholicism. St. Cloud State reflects it's community well. Racist antics have been common there for the last 10 years, and no administration deals with it effectively. Really a sad story.

There are racists everywhere. St Cloud does seem to get a public incident every now and again ...

and that's important - these are not daily expressions, and it could be a very few characters perpetrating many of the publicly visible hate postings

"an arrow in it's bullet...."
"St. Cloud State reflects it's community "
"can't shake it's racist image"

The apostrophe police have been alerted.