Willmar City Council Member Ron Christianson continues to face scrutiny over liking and commenting on anti-immigrant and anti-refugee posts on Facebook.
The editorial board of the West Central Tribune writes in Tribune Editorial: Christianson must address bias concerns:
Willmar City Councilman Ron Christianson was criticized recently for “comments and likes” of anti-Muslim Facebook posts, considered to be biased and prejudiced by many.
We commend Willmar Human Rights Commission member Ben Larson for raising his concerns Monday at the City Council meeting about Christianson’s recent social media activity. For doing so, he experienced negative and hateful comments and gestures from some Christianson supporters.
Larson complained about Christianson’s support of a Willmar resident and her anti-immigrant Facebook posts that often disparaged Somali, Muslims and Hispanics, including references to “illiterate, uneducable people with the average IQ of 68,” and “diseases, crime and filth.”
The resident’s writings include such passages as “We need to get these people out of our country and back to other Muslim hell holes where they will fit in because they don’t fit in here and never will” and “Now we are flooded with illiterate Mexicans and Muslims.”
Christianson through his Facebook account’s activity appears to support the writer’s comments. . . .
Such ill-conceived, biased opinions about any race or religion are unfortunate and often reflect poorly upon the individuals holding, expressing and supporting such opinions.
Certainly, in the United States, one’s right to their opinion and the freedom to speak it is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The question is are public officials held to a higher standard of views about their community. We think they should be.
Public officials should be responsible and decent to all constituents within their community. If a public official cannot respect and treat everyone in the community fairly and decently, then said official is not serving all of the community. The question becomes should the individual continue attempting to serve when the individual is not serving all?. . .
Bias or racist opinions will continue to be an issue as Willmar and Minnesota are changing racially and ethnically. By 2035, the non-white population will grow 112 percent, while the white population will grow 9 percent.
All residents in Willmar have a responsibility to be part of this community and hold each other accountable.
The question for the city of Willmar is how should a public employee or a public official - appointed or elected - act on social media. Unfortunately, Willmar does not currently have a social media policy.
The League of Minnesota Cities has developed a model social media policy, which the Willmar City Council should review, customize and adopt. Such a policy would help guide city staff and officials in their usage and practices on city and private social media.
We urge the City Council to develop a social media policy for its staff and officials.
Read the entire editorial at the Tribune, as it specifically reviews examples of the questionable posts.
Earlier this month, Bluestem posted about the issue in Willmar city council member Christianson under scrutiny for liking racist & mean Facebook posts and Fellow who threw pickled pig's foot at Willmar Farmers Market rises to council member's defense.
Photo: Ron Christianson at a Willmar City Council meeting. Photo via West Central Tribune.
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