Tapio Seeks “Vote of No Confidence” in Lutheran Social Services over Refugee Fears

I don’t spend much time seating Legislative resolutions. They enact no policy; they mostly just scratch itches in our legislators’ dark and damp places.

But some resolutions expose the most vile impulses of some of our Republican legislators. In Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, Trumpist Senator Neal Tapio (R-5/Watertown) lures 20 co-sponsoring Republicans (including my entire District 3 delegation) into insulting refugees and Lutheran Social Services.

Lutheran Social Services sucks! say Tapio, Curd, and Novstrup.
Lutheran Social Services sucks! say Tapio, Curd, and Novstrup.

SCR 15 would issue “a vote of no confidence in the refugee resettlement program, and the administration thereof.” Tapio lacks the courage and honor to name Lutheran Social Services; the key Whereas clause only tags “the United Nations, the United States Department of State, and an unelected nonprofit organization” as “solely responsible for implementing the refugee resettlement program.”

But let’s be clear, Neal, Al, Blake, and other sponsors. By voting for SCR 15, you will be saying that you have no confidence in a charitable, non-profit South Dakota organization that, in addition to helping refugees become Americans, provides a whole host of other social services valued at $22.6 million in fiscal year 2016.

Neal, Al, Blake, do you really want to go on the record saying you have no confidence in an organization whose chief of fundraising is also the husband Bill Peterson is an alumnus of your august body and is the husband of your current Republican colleague Representative Sue Peterson?

Besides maligning good neighbors doing good work, Tapio fills SCR 15 with offensive rhetorical flailings.

The resolution opens with puffy phrases about our “open and pluralist society” and the “hope and freedom” we offer to “those living in fear and tyranny,” then proceeds to peddle Trumpist fear and signal that South Dakota doesn’t want refugees.

Tapio squeezes in his theocratic urges, claiming “America… constitutionally protects each person’s God-given freedom to think, believe, speak, and act….” Um, Neal? “America” as an open and pluralist society makes no official claim that freedoms are given by any one religion’s deity. The Legislature cannot do so without running afoul of one of those Constitutional protections, the Establishment Clause.

Tapio also sneaks in some bang-bangery, including as a Whereas, “these freedoms are so important, the United States Constitution provides the right to bear arms in order to protect those freedoms.” At best, that’s rambling, ungermane to the subject of LSS’s refugee resettlement efforts. At worst, it’s a veiled threat: You refugees get out of line, and we’ll shoot you!

SCR 15 asserts that “the State of South Dakota has ceded the state’s authority and has no direct influence on the implementation or administration of the refugee resettlement program.” What, did Tapio himself vote for Senate Bill 124, the formal ceding of that authority, just to give himself another Whereas? And does Tapio really believe states have any authority to cede in the properly federal issue of immigration?

SCR 15 puts on the record this wild generalization about every country from which refugees come:

…the societal impact of accepting refugees from countries where ninety-eight percent of females undergo forced female genital mutilation, where practices of honor killings and dancing chai boys exist, and where other cultural practices antithetical to freedom and liberty are exercised is unknown… [2017 SCR 15].

Let’s look at some data on where refugees come from and where female genital mutilation happens:

Refugee Origin 2016

FGM is not concentrated in a majority of the countries from which our refugees came in 2016. And perhaps the proper policy response to this horrid practice is not to blacklist all people from those countries but make clear we offer women safe haven from this abuse.

As for “dancing chai boys” (the proper term appears to be bachabaze, an exploitative practice, banned by the Taliban but resurging since their fall) in which usually wealthy men force boys into sexual servitude), one would think refugees are more likely to be the disempowered victims of such abuse, not the powerful status-seekers who perpetuate it. And if Tapio wants to Legislatively pronounce an entire country suspect because of the pedophiliac practices of an elite few, then I look forward to his follow-up resolution warning the world about American visitors due to pedophile Catholic priests.

Similarly, SCR 15 bemoans our acceptance of refugees “from countries that impose the death penalty for laws of apostasy and laws of blasphemy.” Again, if certain nations are subjecting people to oppression, isn’t that reason to open our doors to people fleeing such oppression? Translated into Cold War terms, SCR 15 says, “Those Cubans come from countries that practice Communism! Kick ’em out!”

And finally, Trumpist fear-mongering: SCR 15 claims, “refugees and their children have been involved in terrorist attacks domestically and have joined ISIS and other known terrorist organizations around the world.” Tapio and his fearful friends may as well pen a resolution voting no confidence in the National Weather Service because lightning killed 38 Americans in 2016. You face more danger of being hit by lightning twice than of being killed by a refugee committing a terrorist attack. Syrian refugees have killed nobody in America. There is no evidence that refugees or immigrants in general commit more crime than those of us who got here earlier.

If anyone deserves a vote of no confidence, it’s not Lutheran Social Services, which works every day to help new Americans. It’s Trumpists like Tapio, Curd, and Novstrup, who tarnish the Legislature and South Dakota with insulting, ignorant measures like Senate Concurrent Resolution 15.

Senate State Affairs has SCR 15 first on its agenda for tomorrow (Wednesday, March 1) at 10 a.m., followed appropriately by another exercise in baseless fear, HB 1156, which would allow concealed pistols in the Capitol.


19 Responses to Tapio Seeks “Vote of No Confidence” in Lutheran Social Services over Refugee Fears

  1. I’m surprised there’s no vote to defund them.

  2. Darin Larson

    It is too bad that these legislators have not heard the oft quoted common wisdom that it is better to remain silent and let people think that you be a fool then to speak and remove all doubt.

  3. tom schmitz

    It’s hard for me to believe this sorta stuff is born out of fear/ignorance. I think it springs from race/religious hate in the hearts of the ones pushing it and a base willingness to manipulate those tendencies/characteristics in others for political gain.

  4. Porter Lansing

    TurdStrup (short for Tapio Curd Novstrup) is a seething pile of hateful bile.

  5. Bob Newland

    Good God! (And I’m an atheist.)

  6. “Vote of No Confidence” ???? is this really a thing? I thought it was a political ploy from Star Wars episode 1… to get Senator Palpatine elected as Chancellor..
    apparently my education needs more than just movies…..

  7. mike from iowa

    “Questions have to be asked of who do we want living in our country,” Tapio said.

    If I wuz you. congressperson, I’d be looking into the mirror first and foremost. You don’t have protected status. Bwahahahahaha!

  8. I like that Porter – Turdstrup! Three angry old white men.

  9. Don Coyote

    @cah: “Um, Neal? “America” as an open and pluralist society makes no official claim that freedoms are given by any one religion’s deity.”

    Actually the “official claim” can be found within the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration speaks about the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” as well as being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Declarationism is a legal philosophy that asserts that the Constitution and it’s legal footings should not be interpreted separate from but in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence’s Natural Law principles. In fact Lincoln believed that the Constitution, Liberty and Union were all informed by the ideals found in the Declaration with Lincoln dating the birth of the Union in his Gettysburg Address with the famous phrase “Four score and seven years ago …”

  10. Roger Cornelius

    Tapio must think he is member of parliament where they use the ‘vote of no confidence’ to reject their prime minister and other officials.

  11. Skipping right past Coyote’s distracting niggles…

    District 5 constituent Heather Tobin e-mailed Senator Tapio to voice her concerns about SCR 15. She reports that Senator Tapio responded thus:

    Thank you for your email.

    I, and people like me, receive death threats because I dare speak about uncomfortable topics in public.

    I speak for people who dare not speak for themselves.

    Be careful for judging people on topics you might not fully understand.

    With Kindest Regards,
    Neal [attributed to Senator Neal Tapio by constitutent Heather Tobin, Facebook post to LEAD South Dakota, 2017.02.28]

  12. Darin Larson

    Cory, I assume your last reference to “Heather Tapio” should read “Heather Tobin.”

  13. Cory had written:

    “America” as an open and pluralist society makes no official claim that freedoms are given by any one religion’s deity.

    “Don Coyote” had replied:

    The Declaration [of Independence] speaks about the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” as well as being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”.

    Cory writes:

    Skipping right past Coyote’s distracting niggles…

    One of America’s founding documents explicitly asserts that we’re endowed with the unalienable right to liberty by our Creator. I’m not sure how references to our founding documents could be regarded as “niggles” in this context.

  14. Just why should we have any confidence in a competent, caring, well-run organization ?? Oh yeah — FREEDOM !!

  15. Darin: correct!

    Kurt, our fundamental governing document makes no such mention, and the First Amendment and the reality of democratic pluralism preclude such mention.

    But that issue (like much of the moral windbaggery of SCR 15) is only the parsley on the plate of Tapio’s rampant ignorance and xenophobia.

  16. Cory had written:

    “America” as an open and pluralist society makes no official claim that freedoms are given by any one religion’s deity.

    I’d written:

    One of America’s founding documents explicitly asserts that we’re endowed with the unalienable right to liberty by our Creator.

    Cory replies:

    Kurt, our fundamental governing document makes no such mention, and the First Amendment and the reality of democratic pluralism preclude such mention.

    The testimonium clause of the United States Constitution refers to Jesus Christ as our Lord. I’d asked you in May of 2015 whether you believed James Madison and the rest of the First Congress intended for the First Amendment to render the Constitution’s reference to “our Lord” unconstitutional, and you replied that the First Amendment would technically have that effect.

    http://dakotafreepress.com/2015/05/09/obama-wrong-on-faith-and-success-right-on-value-of-community-college/#comment-5397
    http://dakotafreepress.com/2015/05/09/obama-wrong-on-faith-and-success-right-on-value-of-community-college/#comment-5410

    I’m assuming you’d say the First Amendment would technically have the effect of rendering multiple references to God in the Declaration of Independence unconstitutional as well.

  17. Dang it to heck! The distraction here shows the game Tapio and Trump play, piling distractions onto nefarious plans to keep us from seeing the core insult and error of their ways. Then when we do exert ourselves to rebut the core of their insult and error, they pull the trick we saw yesterday, hoghousing SCR 15 to praise Donald Trump for giving a unifying speech and fighting “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    (Notice: praising unifying language while using a divisive term.)

  18. I’d written to Cory:

    The testimonium clause of the United States Constitution refers to Jesus Christ as our Lord. I’d asked you in May of 2015 whether you believed James Madison and the rest of the First Congress intended for the First Amendment to render the Constitution’s reference to “our Lord” unconstitutional, and you replied that the First Amendment would technically have that effect.

    Cory writes:

    The distraction here shows the game Tapio and Trump play, piling distractions onto nefarious plans to keep us from seeing the core insult and error of their ways.

    My comments aren’t intended either as a game or as a distraction. You’re the one who went into the weeds looking for un-American “theocratic urges” based on a simple reference to God-given freedom, even though you’ve written yourself that the signers of America’s founding documents were almost exclusively Protestant Christians:

    http://dakotafreepress.com/2016/07/04/not-just-christian-fourth-of-july-democracy-america-for-all/