Hennen: Let the Golden Rule rule again

Hennen addresses hateful messages sent to Fargo School Board members following the Pledge of Allegiance flap.

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Columnist Scott Hennen
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It's popular these days to insist our institutions of academia, big business and government have executives in charge of "diversity, equity and inclusion." These execs have fancy offices and big budgets and lead efforts that really only require common sense.

I propose we simplify this process and simply seek the "Golden Rule" to be common practice. It's timeless advice: "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you." This doesn't require the cottage industry of reams of paper dedicated to handbooks and endless meetings. "Hey, people, treat everyone the same as you'd like to be treated." Got it? Get it! Good! Enforce that and the laws already in place and we're good. We've been taught this since Kindergarten. Let's bring it back with full force.

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The Fargo School Board voted 7-2 in favor of rescinding a previous approved motion to begin their bi-weekly meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. The board ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance didn't align with the Fargo Public School District's diversity code.

I'm not naive enough to think this will solve every problem. But it's a better way than wasting zillions on efforts that over-complicate the root causes.

And when human weakness prompts meanness, racism, hate, bigotry or worse, call it out. Make an example of it. Appeal to the better angels of those caught up in anger and emotion.

I've written recently about the awful decision of the Fargo School Board to rescind saying the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings. As awful as that was, as angry as it made me, I never once thought it would be a good idea to call members of the school board and spew hate. But that's exactly what happened.


Nyamal Dei, a refugee from South Sudan and the first person of color to serve on the Fargo School Board, and one of its new members, received many negative responses to her vote, including a hate-filled voicemail that included racist and expletive comments – a voicemail that she played for the entire board and community gathered at a special meeting of the Fargo School Board. This voicemail called Dei, among other terms, a Nazi.

Greg Clark said the messages, from Fargo citizens, “were by and large far more civil than those messages from coming outside our community.” He said he was threatened with violence and “called every name in the book.”

Melissa Burkland said the comments impacted the work of the Fargo Public School District.

“The vote incited an onslaught of communications, directed to Fargo Public Schools staff, to such a degree that it incapacitated them from doing their general duties in supporting the district’s work,” she said.

While most of the worst offenders were not from North Dakota, it all must be robustly denounced as reprehensible conduct. And we should stand with those we disagree with in unity denouncing this as totally unacceptable. That really goes without saying.

I'm ashamed that people who share my opinion conduct themselves in this manner. We can't control that. But we can control our reaction to it.

Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.


"I recently asked Lynn Helms, North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director for the facts that rarely get reported," columnist Scott Hennen writes. "Helms tells us there is a full-on assault against our oil and gas industry in North Dakota coming from the Biden Administration."

Opinion by Scott Hennen
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at

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