Speaking of religious and political ignorance, Rep. Al Novstrup represents Aberdeen on the latest This American Life broadcast. The broadcast features comments Rep. Novstrup made August 11 immediately after the first crypto-Klan meeting held by Ron Branstner in our fair city. Rep. Novstrup remained silent at that meeting when his neighbors attacked me, but he had no problem talking to reporter Zoe Chace about his fear of Sharia Law… and telling her she needs to read more:
Zoe Chace: In this hotel ballroom in Aberdeen, South Dakota, people aren’t interested in a debate over the economics of immigration. This is a conversation about fear.
The most memorable conversation I had was with the State Rep. Al Novstrup. He’s been in state government for fourteen years, and he came to this meeting to get more information on Sharia Law potentially taking over his city, like it has other places, he says.
ZC: Like where?
Al Novstrup: Dearborn, Michigan.
ZC: Have you seen that happen there?
AN: I haven’t been to Dearborn, Michigan.
ZC: From my perspective as a national reporter, there’s still the Constitution. There’s no Sharia anywhere.
AN: You don’t think there’s Sharia anywheres, in the United States?
AN: I think you need to read more.
ZC: I do read.
AN: You don’t think there’s Sharia anyplace in the United States. You don’t—you don’t think—wow. O.K. You don’t think there’s Sharia—I’m just blown away. We’re living in two different planets [Zoe Chace, “Will I Know Anyone at This Party?” This American Life, 2016.10.28].
Here, Al. Read:
A satirical website called the National Report intentionally made up an article for entertainment purposes on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 about the City of Dearborn enacting sharia law over the weekend. The article is false; Dearborn is not under sharia law and has never at any time even considered such an action.
“Dearborn has never been, nor ever will be, under sharia law. We are governed by the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Michigan and the City of Dearborn Charter,” said Mayor [John B.] O’Reilly.
…“The National Report is not a news site, but is only pretending to be one. Its purpose is entertainment. In this case, its outrageous story, with no basis in fact, has ended up fooling people in part because it mirrors allegations made by others in the past with less than humorous intentions,” said Mayor O’Reilly.
…“It is in human nature to fear the unknown, which can lead to hate and attempts to deny the rights of others. But in Dearborn, that fear of the unknown is mitigated because leaders of many faiths regularly come together for dialogue and to celebrate the significant events of each others’ religions,” he said.
“We invite people to learn more about the real Dearborn,” Mayor O’Reilly said. “We want people to know we represent the best of America, our traditions and values, including following the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution” [City of Dearborn, press release, October 2013, retrieved 2016.10.30].
State legislator peddles a three-year-old joke as fact; a national reporter and a local political opponent each debunk it without breaking a sweat.
Faced with these facts, instead of bashing people who don’t share his religious beliefs, Rep. Novstrup should immediately take back his false statement about Sharia Law in Dearborn, apologize to reporter Chace for questioning her intelligence and research, and apologize to the people of South Dakota for perpetuating a false and harmful lie.