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Port: NDGOP condemns racist comments in Young Republicans group

"The NDGOP flatly condemns the offensive statements made by a group of Young Republicans this week on their chat platform," the statement from the party reads.

North Dakota Young Republicans Telegram group
The description of a Telegram group created for members of the North Dakota Young Republicans.
Submitted photo
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MINOT, N.D. — The North Dakota Republican Party has strongly condemned the racist and bigoted remarks made in a chat group organized by an affiliate group called the North Dakota Young Republicans.

In a Telegram group chat, members of the group casually used homophobic slurs and other types of bigoted language without any complaint from the membership which included a number of prominent activists, party officials, elected officials, and candidates for elected office.

"The NDGOP flatly condemns the offensive statements made by a group of Young Republicans this week on their chat platform," the statement from the party reads. "We have always encouraged diversity of thought and respectful discourse, along with respect for our political opponents. What we saw this week does not stand in any way, with the views of the NDGOP or the Republican Party."

Those are strong words from the party, though it's unclear what other actions the NDGOP may take to distance itself from the Young Republicans.

Without action, we're only left with the wrods.

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The group already lost its voting rights on the NDGOP's governing committee back in December, but it maintains ex officio status on that committee.

To say that the members of the Young Republicans have been unrepentant about the slurs is an understatement. When I called Ben Schirrick, the current president of the North Dakota State University College Republicans, to ask about his use of a homophobic slur, he made new posts in the Telegram group, proudly using the slur again.

After my story published, shining a light on the bigotry fostered within the group, some of the members left the group, but others were defiant.

One member named Matt Evans suggested that the revelations of routine bigotry were nothing more than a leftist plot.

Another, Andrea Toman, campaign manager for state Rep. Rick Becker's U.S. Senate campaign, indicated that the problem wasn't so much that people were being bigots, but that they put their bigotry in a place where it could be seen and documented.

It seems that at least some members of the North Dakota Young Republicans are not the least bit ashamed of their bigotry. To the extent they feel any remorse at all, it's rooted in the fact that they got caught. That their hate was exposed to a larger audience, and thus has become politically inconvenient.

I think the NDGOP needs to ask itself if a group like this can be redeemed, or if its affiliation with North Dakota Republicans must be severed.

Opinion by Rob Port
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 rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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