Port: Extremism, in pursuit of left-wing causes, is apparently OK

Why do the apologists for left-wing extremism so often get a pass?

U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland (D-New Mexico) speaks at a book signing event in 2019 in Bismarck. Natasha Rausch / Forum News Service
Natasha Rausch / Forum News Service
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MINOT, N.D. — Imagine it's 2025, and voters have ended Joe Biden's time in the White House.

Or, perhaps by that time, given Biden's fragility, it will be President Kamala Harris.

Regardless, we'd have a new Republican president.

How would you feel if that President chose, as a member of their cabinet, someone who attended the violent U.S. Capitol riot in January? Or the disastrous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017? Or the Bundy standoff in Nevada?

Reasonable people would conclude that there are better candidates for a cabinet position than someone with sympathies toward those events.


And yet.

And yet.

As I write this, Rep. Deb Haaland, who stood with the violent activists who terrorized southcentral North Dakota during the hot-tempered protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, is on the verge of being confirmed to serve in Biden's cabinet as the Secretary of the Interior.

By the time you read this, she may well be seated.

Haaland hasn't had much to say about the violence perpetrated by the anti-DAPL protesters. She seems fine with it.

In 2019, in an interview with the High Plains Reader, a left-wing Fargo publication, which she now touts on her official congressional website , she said her message for other left-wing activists was to be "fierce," which is certainly a provocative choice of words given how many people have been hurt and killed by "fierce" political activism in recent years.

I suspect if some organizer or sympathizer around a movement of right-wing extremism — say an aficionado of the Qanon genre of conspiracy thinking, or someone who attended the riot at the Capitol, even if they didn't storm the building — were nominated to serve in a Republican administration our friends on the left would be apoplectic.

As they should be. Heck, Republicans should be upset about that sort of thing.


Why does Haaland get a pass?

Why do the apologists for left-wing extremism so often get a pass?

Haaland has tried to paint a more moderate picture of her anti-pipeline extremism. “I did go to stand with the water protectors,” she told Sen. John Hoeven during her confirmation process. “The reason I did that is because I agreed with the tribe that they felt they weren’t consulted in the best way. I know that tribal consultation is important and that is the reason I was there.”

Before her nomination, Haaland was singing a different tune. “Right now our public lands are emitting 25% of the carbon that goes into the atmosphere in this country. That’s despicable," she told HPR. "It’s going to get worse, in my opinion. We have to win this next election if we want any chance of saving this planet."

Elections have consequences. Biden won, but that's not license to promote people who condone political extremism.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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