In the public comment period of Monday night's Willmar City Council meeting, city residents once again used the forum to call for council member Ron Christianson to resign.
The West Central Tribune reports in Calls continue for Christianson's resignation from Willmar council:
Members of the public again filled the Willmar City Council chambers, with several speaking out Monday night against Councilman Ron Christianson and his alleged liking of Facebook posts that people are calling racist and Islamophobic.
Two speakers read passages from the Facebook page in question and then asked Christianson which parts of those comments he supports, comments which included lines about the intelligence of immigrants and how Muslims are a dangerous threat.
In a December interview with KWLM Radio, Christianson said he could "like" a post but not support everything in it.
While at one point Christianson used the word "post" in the interview, he and host John Cola mostly discussed liking a "page." Here's the part of the interview with KWLM that's about the social media issue:
Supporter Sue Quist used the same language about "pages" in defending Christianson at a council meeting in December.
However, Christianson has done more than simply like a page, as his defence and supporters suggest. Many Facebook users "like" pages simply to keep track of a party, organization, or cause. Posts, on the other hand, tend to be much more specific, so the defense weakens.
However, the issue has never been just about pages and posts, but comments council member Christianson has also made--and these are comments that aren't balanced by any expressing tolerance or hope for an inclusive community. Moreover, Christianson also told Cola in the KWLM that he's attacked for having conservative Christian beliefs. He did not define which "like" or comment was specifically conservative and Christian.
Let's look at some of these items
In Concerns raised over Ron Christianson’s Facebook account activity; Professor: Elected officials are rightly held to a higher standard, Shelby Lindrud used this lede:
Community members have raised concerns about the supposed likes and comments from Willmar City Council member Ron Christianson’s Facebook account, specifically on the page of a Willmar woman whose posts are frequently critical of Muslims.
Some of the comments:
Christianson’s account is shown to have commented on a post on the woman’s Facebook page dated Nov. 12 in which the author says she is under attack “about my reaction to the unchecked Muslim invasions of the cities of the world. In not one instance have these invasions been a positive thing.”
The comment from Christianson’s account said, “Your antagonists are ill-educated and really don’t know sh_ _” and in a reply to other commenters, “Best to ignore their ill conceived replies. They’re definitely walking around with blinders on and very confused.”
As recently as Thursday the woman’s Facebook page showed a new post that included statements about the rise in hate crimes against Muslims.
“Could it be because Islam wants us and the Jews dead and are determined to destroy our country as well as Europe?” the post said.
Christianson’s account is shown to have commented: “You speak for many more people than you’ll ever know. You have blessed us with your ability to put into words exactly what we are thinking, but don’t know how to express in writing.”
Given the consistent pattern of likes on specific posts, plus the comments, it seems disingenuous for Christianson to claim that he's not agreeing with the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Latino posts--and that these "likes" are simply done out of friendship.
Nor is the material he's liking and commenting on specifically conservative Christian. Indeed, one of the metro area's strongest refugee re-settlement organizations is Arrive Ministries, conducted by evangelical Christians--and it's an affiliate of World Relief. Hardly a bunch of dirty hippies. Assuming conservative Christians share this set of nasty values is pretty risky stuff.
Here are more reactions to the post likes and comments, from Monday night's open forum, via the Willmar Town Crier Facebook page. A representative of the faith-based group ISAIAH, active in Willmar for a number of years, speaks toward the end of the clip.
Note: Link to location of entire KWLM "Open Mic show: 12-19-2017 City of Willmar. Excerpt above used with permission of the host.
Photo: Willmar City Council Member Ron Christianson.
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