Chairman’s post sparks backlash

Jack Whitley, chairman of the Big Stone County Republican Party, received near-universal condemnation after he posted a number of inflammatory comments about Muslims on his personal Facebook page last Wednesday.

In his initial post, Whitley said that waterboarding is a “waste of resources” because, according to him, “we” know that all Muslims “are terrorist…” He concluded with an appeal to “frag” Muslims at Mecca, using a slang term for fragmentation grenades.

Minnesota GOP chairman Keith Downey called Whitley’s comments “outrageous” and insisted that they do not represent the Republican Party’s beliefs. Downey emphasized that his party endorsed its first Somali-American candidate during this year’s elections.

Despite his party’s official rebuke, however, Whitley said in a later Facebook post that he refuses to apologize for or compromise on his beliefs. He demanded that Muslims repent and accept Jesus Christ, and he proudly labeled his posts a “call to arms” for American patriots.

If Whitley had made his comments in public instead of on the Internet, we imagine the backlash would be even stronger than it already is. However, we see no difference between comments made online and those made in the “real world.” Both are equally capable of hurting or offending people.

 Democratic Farmer-Labor party chairman Ken Martin called Whitley “violently bigoted” and urged the Republican Party to demand his resignation. We fully support Martin’s appeal. Whitley’s words obviously constitute hate speech, and we find it unacceptable that so prejudiced a person should hold public office.