Letter: Piepkorn ignored facts, used fear tactics regarding refugees and tuberculosis risk

Dear Commissioner Dave Piepkorn:

You seem to be suffering from a terrible case of ignorance or intolerance. Possibly both. Your insulting motion at Monday’s Fargo City Commission meeting to put an end to refugee resettlement in our community due to cases of tuberculosis was either a result of you being ill-informed or trying to hide your racism behind any excuse you can find.

Referring to TB in our community, you stated in your motion that, “this is putting our citizens’ lives in jeopardy. Are you kidding me?” Are you kidding me, Piepkorn? Let’s review the facts:

In 2018 there were around 133 cases of latent TB – in other words, cases that can’t be spread.

Of these 133 cases, 24 were refugees – in other words, 18 percent. According to the Director of Public Health at Fargo Cass Public Health, Desi Flemming, there were five active cases and zero of them were refugee cases – in other words 0 percent.

Yet, despite these facts, you ramped up your emotions and used fear tactics to claim that, “people will die” in our community if we don’t put an end to refugee resettlement. You know what people are actually dying from? Opioids. Alcoholism. Gun abuse (luckily not so much in our community). Not latent cases of TB. Yet, you’re not trying to ameliorate those issues.

Piepkorn, once and for all, why don’t you own your racism and intolerance? Quit trying to hide it behind false fears and terrible city legislation. Why don’t you just admit that you’re a middle-aged white man who is threated by the changing world. You’re threatened by a more inclusive community, and you hate the idea of the little bubble you live in being impacted by diversity. You’re afraid that the power, comfort, and privilege you’ve always been afforded might no longer be all yours to selfishly hoard.

You should be embarrassed by your unsupported motion last night, and your attempt to instill unnecessary fear into our community. You should be, but I’m sure you’re not.

It seems that you still fail to see the richness – both economic, and cultural – diversity brings to our community.

It’s a shame that you don’t recognize that Fargo, the community you serve, the community whose constituents you’re supposed to equally represent and act in the best interest of, is an inclusive community. It’s a community that’s strengthened by this inclusiveness. It’s a community that is just as much home for our refugee neighbors as it is for you and me.

If I give you the benefit of the doubt of ignorance and not understanding the reality of the TB situation, or maybe just not understanding the word latent, that still means you’re probably not fit to represent out city.

However, if I’m realistic, I presume you do understand the TB situation, but you’re looking for any excuse to put an end to refugee resettlement in our community. If yours is a case of intolerance, which I believe it is, you don’t deserve to represent our community.