North Dakota has been my home state since July 1946, when I was born on my grandparents' couch in Enderlin, N.D. I graduated from Enderlin High School in 1965 and joined the military in 1966. I served with the First Marine Division from June of 1967 to June of 1968 as medic with Marine Corps in Northern I-Corps, ending up in some of the most horrific locations of the war like Con Thien, Khe Sanh and Hue City. I returned home and left the military in 1970 to begin college at St. Cloud (Minn.) State University but transferred to North Dakota State University, where I obtained two degrees, one in university studies and the other soils. I worked with the USDA here in North Dakota and Florida as a soil scientist until my retirement.
With those credentials, I wish to express my utter disdain for what happened in Linton, N.D. I listened to news of the event and was appalled to have this act minimized and responded to with a simple apology and to be informed that the game would go on.
I am reminded of racism here in North Dakota everywhere I go. The "n-word" is a common word here in the state and has its roots deeply embedded in public conversations.
I recall a story told to me by a former president of the University of North Dakota who passed not too long ago, that when the movie "Birth of a Nation," perhaps the most racist film to ever hit the market, that a special train was dispatched out of Grand Forks to give country and the surrounding small town folks free transportation to the movie.
It's also worth mentioning that the KKK was quite active here in North Dakota (if not still), not to mention the groups such as the Posse Comitatus of Gordon Kahl fame, whose political agenda includes white supremacy. I also recall the aftermath of that event how radio stations like KFYR, John Ruby as the talk show host, seemed to express that Kahl was something of a folk hero.
Racism runs deep in the North Dakota psyche and I believe it should not be tolerated, particularly in public school. If I were the head of your department, I would demand that the season of football at Linton be canceled and I would consider basketball as well. To allow the game to go on, I believe, speaks mountains toward the prejudices North Dakotans share and will allow to continue. At this point, I am ashamed to be from North Dakota.
Johnson lives in Forman, N.D.