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Port: Rick Becker's silence about bigotry among his supporters speaks volumes

I don't believe Rick Becker is racist or homophobic, but I do think he lacks the integrity to speak out about those things when it's not politically convenient. That's the sort of person Rick Becker is. Voters, take note.

North Dakota Young Republicans Telegram group
The description of a Telegram group created for members of the North Dakota Young Republicans. The image for the group shows state Rep. Rick Becker, the founder of the Bastiat Caucus, standing next to Andrea Toman, the manager for his U.S. Senate campaign.
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MINOT, N.D. — "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” is an old saw often used in political discourse, usually falsely attributed to British philosopher Edmund Burke.

Burke didn't actually say it , but whatever the provenance, there's truth in the sentiment.

When I was the first to report the homophobic slurs and white supremacists tropes in a Telegram messaging group organized by the North Dakota Young Republicans, by people who were unapologetic it , the worst part of the story, outside of the bigotry itself, was all the people in the group who were silent about it.

Two sitting Republican lawmakers, a half-dozen or so Republican legislative candidates, at least two NDGOP district chairs, and many prominent political activists were in that group posting news updates and organizing campaign activities among the bigoted posts, and they did nothing about it.

They didn't speak up. They didn't challenge the slurs. They didn't object to the bigotry.

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But one person's silence in this matter is perhaps louder than anyone else's.

The North Dakota Young Republicans is one of the beachheads in the NDGOP for the Bastiat Caucus movement of Trump-aligned, conspiracy-minded populists who want to take over the party.

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It may as well be a fan club for state Rep. Rick Becker, who founded the Bastiat Caucus, and is currently running a campaign for the U.S. Senate as an independent after going back on his promise to respect the choice of delegates at the NDGOP's state convention who gave their endorsement to incumbent Sen. John Hoeven.

The messages in that Telegram group were often focused on Becker, expressing support for his campaign and disdain for his critics both inside and outside the NDGOP.

There were even giddy messages posted by people who had met Becker and got a selfie with him.

Becker's campaign manager, Andrea Toman, and one of his campaign advisors, District 38 NDGOP chairman Jared Hendrix, were in the group.

Toman, specifically, made it clear in a post to the group that her problem with the bigotry is that it wasn't sufficiently hidden from the eyes of the public.

"It really doesn't matter who his source is," Toman wrote, referring to my reporting. "The internet is permanent. Act like it, and you'll be fine."

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On Monday, Aug. 22, three days after I originally reported this story, I reached out to Becker about the bigoted messages in the group which, in many ways, is organized around the movement he founded, that includes some of his most important supporters, and spends much of its time promoting his agenda.

I've yet to receive a response from him.

It's not that Becker doesn't like to talk to me, specifically. Just a week before Becker had responded to my invitation to participate in a debate on my podcast with the other Senate candidates.

I don't believe Rick Becker is racist or homophobic, but I do think he lacks the integrity to speak out about those things when it's not politically convenient.

That's the sort of person Rick Becker is.

Voters, take note.

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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