Fargo City Commissioner John Strand.
On Monday, the Fargo City Commission passed a resolution to declare the city as a hate-free community. A move that appears to be gaining popularity in that area of the country. According to reports, the City of Moorhead already passed the same resolution and it appears it will be on the docket next in West Fargo.
Such a resolution isn’t really a surprise, especially for Fargo. After the events of Charlottesville, where White Nationalists were met by counter protesters who were then plowed into by a car – killing one person and injuring others – the issue of racism has escalated in the realm of media and public debate. It just so happened that a Fargo man, Pete Tefft, attended the Charlottesville White Nationalist’s rally and did interviews about the subject afterwards.
There was also the woman that verbally assaulted two Somali women in a Fargo Wal-Mart parking lot back in July. She later apologized, but the video of the ordeal went viral and made national headlines.
The only vote in opposition to Monday’s resolution was Commissioner Dave Piepkorn– who himself has made headlines this year for his strong feelings regarding refugee resettlement in his community and his view of it as an unfunded mandate of the federal government. Views that resulted in a failed petition drive to recall him.
The resolution that Piepkorn’s colleagues voted in favor of is a non-binding resolution. A fact that Commissioner Tony Gehrig pointed to when he was criticized on social media for his vote:
Gehrig’s points are fair. In fact, it appears that while he indeed voted for the resolution, he recognizes that this is not the most pressing issue in the community and that time is better spent on other issues. In reality, it seems he might agree with Piepkorn but saw no harm in voting for a non-binding resolution.
In an article I published not even two months ago, I wrote that the issue of hate crime legislation “will likely heat up in North Dakota. Especially when the 2019 Legislative Session rolls around.” So, it’s no surprise that in one article covering Fargo’s passage of the resolution that it included this statement:
“Barry Nelson, of North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, is one of the leaders who plans to propose hate crime legislation to state government in 2018 . An attempt at establishing hate crime laws was previously made, and failed, but today, North Dakota is second in the nation for hate crime incidents, per capita.
“To combat hate crimes, which are different than crimes of a similar nature, laws must be made, advocates of hate crime legislation say.” (Emphasis Added)
But what will such proposed legislation accomplish? Let me be very frank with you… nothing. Just like declaring certain places in society as “gun-free zones” doesn’t stop lunatics from shooting down innocent people, declaring hate-free zones (in this case an entire city) will not stop people from hating.
If the government’s edicts had such an all-powerful influence, I can guarantee you that we would have rid ourselves of hate across the nation a long time ago. Just as I said before:
“At the end of the day, we must face this reality… government cannot stop hate. It never has. It never will… let’s not pretend we need special classifications to accomplish such a thing. We don’t.
“No, the changes required to stem the tide of hate will not come from piggy-back laws resulting from hate crime legislation in Washington, DC or Bismarck. The necessary changes will only come from a change of hearts and minds.”
Regardless of how well intended, until the change of heart and mind becomes a reality, Commissioner Piepkorn is absolutely right about such a resolution when he identifies the fact that, “It doesn’t accomplish anything.” It’s little more than a feel-good response to satisfy an insatiable desire to do “something”.
1. http://www.kvrr.com/2017/10/09/hate-speech-resolution-passes-fargo-not-unanimously/ 2. http://hpr1.com/index.php/feature/news/hate-crime-resolution-passes-in-fargo/
3. https://theminutemanblog.com/single-post/2017/08/14/Hate-Crime-Laws-Wont-Stop-Hate 4. http://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/Anti-hate-crime-push-after-3-somali-women-were-verbally-assaulted-in-Fargo-445774763.html 5. http://www.wday.com/news/4336107-timeline-piepkorn-takes-f-m-refugee-resettlement