Rep. Tony Cornish faces backlash over Star Tribune letter

State Rep. Tony Cornish

Heck, every dog in the neighborhood heard those whistles. GOP Rep. Tony Cornish is feeling it after a letter to the Strib offering suggestions for how people can avoid confrontations with cops. At KMSP-TV the story goes, “Cornish, also chair of the Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, wrote in part: … 1) Don’t be a thug and lead a life of crime so that you come into frequent contact with police. 2) Don’t rob people, don’t use or sell drugs, and don’t beat up your significant other. 3) Don’t hang out on the street after 2 a.m. Go home.”

For ThinkProgress.com, Aaron Rupar writes, “ThinkProgress reached out to the Star Tribune in hopes of better understanding the rationale that led to the paper running Cornish’s letter, and received the following response from David Banks, the paper’s assistant commentary editor. ‘As I’ve written on occasion in explaining our general philosophy for the Readers Write content, we have three main goals: to provide insight; to reflect, on the whole, the nature of the sentiments we receive, and to produce a collection that’s engaging for readers. These goals, by their nature, can be conflicting. To that I would add that the discussion that takes place in our letters column is an ongoing process — no one letter is the last word (and seldom the first) on any topic. … Whatever one may think of the Cornish letter, it reflects a point [of] view that is shared by a proportion of the people who write to us. Cornish’s leadership role is a factor, too — one I believe is especially pertinent for those who may disagree with his stance. Whether one is trying to develop a point of view or defend an existing one, isn’t it better to be aware of all of the sentiments that may influence public policy? We fully anticipate publishing responses to the Cornish letter in the coming days. As always, our intent is to facilitate a full debate.”

For WCCO-TV, Pat Kessler says, “[NAACP President Nekima] Levy-Pounds called the letter ‘racist,’ and ‘intolerable,’ with coded language aimed at the African American community. ‘He’s drawing upon racial stereotypes that people often use to justify the use of excessive force against African-Americans, even when African-Americans — who are unarmed — are killed by law enforcement,’ she said. Levy-Pounds was part of a group at the state capitol this year disrupting a prison hearing chaired by Cornish. Cornish says groups like hers protesting police violence are exhibiting, ‘irrational behavior,’ and that perpetrators of any race are to blame.”

For The Column, Andy Birkey writes, “A House candidate in Apple Valley used race and sexual orientation to criticize her opponent at a recent GOP convention. Ali Jimenez-Hopper earned the Republican endorsement in House District 57A, which encompasses parts of the southern Twin Cities suburbs of Apple Valley and Lakeville. … Jimenez-Hopper will face DFL endorsed candidate Erin Maye Quade.  … In a speech at the Republican endorsing convention in mid-May — which has since been posted to Youtube — Jimenez-Hopper took a shot at Quade’s family and ancestral background:  ‘She brings up that she is half black and she uses that as a strength. She brings up that she is in support of LGBT and that lifestyle and puts out pictures on twitter of her and her wife. She is for more socialist programs which is against what our party believes in. … I believe in the traditional marriage in the sense that it’s between a husband and wife and that family is important.’”

The AP reports, “A proposed plea deal was delayed Wednesday for a former suburban Milwaukee police officer charged with ditching the bodies of two women he’s accused of killing in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin highway. … Authorities are hoping to extradite Zelich to Minnesota, where he’s charged in the death of the other victim.”

June 19 is strike day for Allina nurses. Jeremy Olson of the Strib says, “Nurses at five Allina Health hospitals plan to conduct a one-week strike, starting June 19 at 7 a.m., amid a contract dispute over health benefits, the Minnesota Nurses Association announced Wednesday evening. The targeted facilities are Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United Hospital in St. Paul, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and Unity Hospital in Fridley.”

Things you really don’t want to have 15 seconds of fame for: John Shipley and Jace Frederick of the PiPress report, “[Dan] O’Reilly has become something of an internet meme since fouling a ball into his crotch late in a 20-1 victory over South St. Paul in the Class 3A, Section 3 championship game Monday. O’Reilly’s friend, Andrew Zuckerman, initially posted the footage on his Twitter account Tuesday night. The footage was pulled from the delayed game broadcast by Town Square Television, a station in Inver Grove Heights. Watch the entire clip here (around the 1:54:30 mark). It has since been picked up by several web sites.” Think of it as a tryout for the next “Jackass” movie.

Also in video, the Uruguayan cellphone commercial featuring the pride of the prairie, Montevideo, Minnesota, has been released and … it’s actually pretty good. From Pioneer Public Television, we learn, “Movistar is a multinational cell phone company with more than 22 million customers in Spain and throughout South America.  The commercial will be the major campaign of the year for the company, which has a stronghold of customers in the rural areas of Uruguay.  A team of eight Uruguayans spent more than a week in Montevideo, MN planning and executing the shoot.” 

The judge showed some faith in Bremer. Says Emma Nelson in the Strib, “The special administrator charged with shepherding Prince’s $100 million-plus estate will be allowed to hire entertainment industry experts to help manage and protect the late megastar’s assets. In an order filed Wednesday in Carver County District Court, Judge Kevin Eide ruled that Bremer Trust may hire and retain ‘identified entertainment industry experts’ through Nov. 2.”

So who is No. 1 in farm safety now? In the Strib, Jeff Meitrodt writes, “Minnesota will have the nation’s best-funded tractor safety plan now that Gov. Mark Dayton has signed off on legislation that creates the state’s first program to help farmers add rollover protection to aging machines. … In response to a Star Tribune series on farm safety, state lawmakers also approved legislation that requires the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to study farm safety programs in other states and report back by Feb. 1, 2017 on ideas that could be implemented here.”

Al Franken gets another vote for VP, from Eric Pfeiffer at Good.com. “Many of you might be too young to remember, but Franken was way out ahead of this whole notion of bringing the fight to Republicans. His 1996 best-seller ‘Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot’ is basically a blueprint for bringing someone like Trump down to size: Rather than pivoting from a position of weakness, highlight the frankly silly nature of your opponent with intelligence and humor. This is the same approach President Obama took when he utterly destroyed Trump during the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. Those jokes were so effective they reportedly were the spark that ignited Trump’s rage to seek the presidency in the first place.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 06/09/2016 - 08:44 am.

    Regarding Rep. Cornish’s Letter

    and similar attitudes on the part of all who would take it upon themselves to tell others how to live,…

    if your psyche will not allow you to imagine what it would be like to have been raised under the circumstances and to live in the current surroundings of others,…

    the “solutions” to their problems will always be as far off the mark as Rep. Cornish’s suggested solutions are, here,…

    because they will arise from the only perspective your psyche WILL allow you to have,…

    that you, yourself, are the very definition of normal,…

    and the problems anyone else might be having,…

    arise from the fact that they are not sufficiently like you.

    It’s especially eye rolling to read Rep. Cornish,…

    who has long expressed the belief that the problems in our society result from our not having ENOUGH guns among the general population,…

    telling OTHER people not to be “thugs.”

  2. Submitted by Matthew Steele on 06/09/2016 - 10:59 am.

    Thug is such a racially coded word that really needs to go away. For a while, I kept trying to use “thug” in alternate contexts relating to the lawlessness of white people (thug motorists not obeying the speed limit, securities fraud thugs, etc) for the sake of illumination through cognitive dissonance, but I don’t think it got through to people that needed to hear it the most.

    The sad part is, people like Tony Cornish don’t even know how racist their language and framing come across. They don’t realize “don’t be a thug” comes across like “Why can’t you just be white like me?” to groups of people who are marginalized by society and harassed by police without prejudice to their criminality or lack-of-criminality. They don’t realize how much society is set up for people like them – people like me, too – and how much the deck is stacked against people they define as “other.” The institutions in society are designed around people like me, white men with white-collar jobs and all the rest, but work against people they define as “other.” It’s telling how different communities feel like the police – one of those institutions with the most actual power, and an institution with whom Cornish identifies – are not there for their benefit.

    When someone says “thug” or contrasts “thugs” with “productive member of society,” it’s hard not to see racial coding.

    • Submitted by Bill Kahn on 06/09/2016 - 01:22 pm.

      Regarding thuggery, I participate in forums where folks are not permitted to call anyone or any group of folks a name like “thug,” and in describing the behavior rather than any person, one gains a perspective that is wider and more accurate, I think.

      For instance, if you make a few minor changes in Tony Cornish’s rhetoric and forget his ethnicity, it is not all that different from “the talk” that every black kid gets from parents who care about them, perhaps in recognition that thuggery is a wide spread human trait for which your culture must control for the good of all.

      I think it can be argued that any supposed civics lessons hold both the truth and prejudices of those giving the lesson. In a perfect world, no one would give “the talk” or write something like Cornish’s letter, but there is thuggery out there and it is not limited to any group whether in authority or in disobedience.

      Thugs, in or out of uniform, are a problem that their respective cultures must solve until we have a common culture that better realizes a perfect world. We all strive for that or we all languish in Hell.

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