Part of the Forum Communications newspaper chain, Willmar's West Central Tribune is the only daily newspaper in west central Minnesota.
Via the op-ed page of sister paper, the Worthington Globe, the editors of the Tribune has called for the resignation of Jack Whitley as the Big Stone County Republican Party. In As others see it: Shame on bigoted county GOP leader, the editorial board wrote:
. . . Jack Whitley, who is the current chairman of the Big Stone County Republican Party, posted a series of inflammatory remarks on his personal Facebook page attacking Muslims.
He said Muslims in Minnesota are “terrorists” and “parasites” and suggested the best solution was to “frag ’em” all.
“(Muslims) do not belong in this country,” Whitley told the Star Tribune Thursday. “They cause terror and discontent …”
This and other views by this Republican Party leader in Big Stone County are horrible, narrow-minded and, simply, just plain bigoted. . . .
The editorial makes clear that state leaders of both major parties condemned the statements, then calls for Whitley's resignation:
Whitley’s comments are not only offensive to west central Minnesota residents and Muslim Americans, but are embarrassing to the state Republican Party and Minnesota.
Such a broad-based religious smear is just as despicable as past religious smears against Catholics, Jews, Mormons and other faiths.
Whitley posted Thursday on his Facebook page that he had no inclination to apologize for his beliefs. He deactivated his Facebook page later in the day.
It time for Whitley to resign from his Republican leadership post in Big Stone County.
If he fails to do so, then the Big Stone Republican Party should remove him at the earliest possible option.
West central Minnesota does not need bigoted leaders like Whitley.
A citiy of about 20,000, Willmar is home to thriving Somali-American and Latino communities, as well as this region's daily paper.
Big Stone County leans Democratic
One of the things that we've noticed--mostly in comment sections--is the assumption by some readers commenting at the Star Tribune, Raw Story and elsewhere that Big Stone County is a red county, perhaps because it is so very rural.
Slightly over 56 percent voted for congressman Collin Peterson, while 50.43 percent voted to return Mark Dayton to the Governor's Office. Statewide, Dayton received 50.07 percent in the multi-candidate contest.
The voters also favored DFLers (Minnesotan for Democrat) for Secretary of State, State Auditor and Attorney General.
Only the Republican House candidate beat a DFLer.
Nor are these results an anomaly. Big Stone County voters favored Barack Obama for president in 2008 by nearly 200 votes, although they picked Romney in 2012 by 40 votes. They also selected State Senator Torrey Westrom over his Democratic opponent in 2012 (though they rejected Westrom's bid this year to replace Peterson in Congress). In all other partisan races 2012 races, they picked DFLers.
The amendments on the 2012 ballot? They overwhelming favored limiting the freedom to marry, but rejected requiring a photo ID to vote as well.
The pattern held true in 2010. Voters favored the Republican for the state house race (he lost the district as a whole) but voted for Democrats in all the other races. In 2006, the non-presidential year prior to that, Big Stone County voters picked DFLers in all of the partisan offices.
Just as Jack Whitley's extreme bigotry isn't representative of all Minnesota Republicans, neither is his party affiliation indicative of Big Stone County.
A friend reminded us today that Minnesota's western boundary waters--the headwaters of our beloved Minnesota River Valley--is old Farmer-Labor Party territory. It's that, and like so much of the Upper Valley, it's little known, far less than it should be given the friendly people and distinctive prairie river landscape.
Photo: Big stones in the Stone Federal Wildlife Refuge near Ortonville. Early spring.
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