So this is what political correctness has come to. David L. Johnson in a letter to the editor established his irrelevant bona fides at length as grounds to roast North Dakotans as racists. What set off his tempest is the recent Linton, N.D., incident.
For homecoming, the Linton High School football team was playing Oakes, and per tradition, burned an effigy wearing an Oakes football jersey with hand-lettered numbers. There were different numbers on front and back. One of them was that of a particular Oakes player who's of Puerto Rican descent. By all accounts neither the Linton coaching staff nor the young woman who provided the jersey had any idea to whom, if anyone, the number belonged. Linton coach Paul Keeney wrote that it was also uncertain if any of his team knew who wore the number.
But you see where this is going. Despite the fact that the entire incident was racially unintentional and the picked number purely coincidental, the hyper-inflamed political correctsters erupted. Johnson exhorts that Linton's entire football season be canceled and, for good measure, its basketball season as well. Anything less would be to condone ghastly racism. Perhaps we should go further than his recommendations and raze the Linton High School, burn the football field, and sow all of it with salt.
In Johnson's mind the KKK still lurks in North Dakota. And here we thought all those autumn smoke palls were from farmers burning stubble and grass in ditches. He even brings up Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus from a third of a century ago, evidently to imply that though it never numbered more than a handful of people, its malignant influence still sways citizens of the State.
What of the charge of North Dakota racism? Racism is unjustified negative (but sometimes positive as well!) group stereotyping. Doubtless, there is some of that here, just as there is in the entire world. However, a great deal of "racism" is but the friction of disparate groups rubbing against each other. Linh Dinh, Vietnamese-American world traveler, notes that there's no racism in Vietnam because it's a homogeneous society. There's no need there for an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, racial quotas or set-asides. Even as we speak, South Koreans are protesting Yemeni refugees on their soil, Brazilians are fighting Venezuelans fleeing their socialist paradise, Costa Ricans are bumping angrily against Nicaraguan refugees, and Myanmarites are persecuting their Rohingya minority.
In a horrific twist of fate Mollie Tibbetts, who was murdered by an illegal immigrant, once tweeted "I hate white people." What kind of conditioning led her to despise herself, her family and the culture that nurtured her? To the students at Linton, who will likely have to give up their long-standing tradition of effigy burning because of critics' white-hot bigotry, we can only say: We, your elders, regret that we lacked the brains and the courage to defend our inheritance and yours. Welcome to a tyrannical future in which everything you do must fit into a PC straitjacket.
Nelson lives in Casselton, N.D., and is a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion page.