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Feeling Chinese, Governor Avoids Veterans Protest at NSU; Protesters to Refer HB 1179?

Governor Dennis Daugaard attended the signing ceremony for the new Chinese-government-run Confucius Institute on the Northern State campus here in Aberdeen yesterday. Celebrating the Confucius Institute’s teaching of Chinese language and culture to open up international trade, Governor Daugaard said, “You can’t discuss business, you can’t discuss culture, if you can’t discuss…. Language and understanding of language is foundational to that.”

Emracing Chinese political culture, Governor Daugaard dodged protesters who had gathered at the NSU library, the site of the signing ceremony, to air their disagreement with House Bill 1179, a new law that widens the definition of veteran for purposes of state benefits. A couple dozen veterans gathered at the front door of the Beulah Williams library; the Governor slipped in and out the back door. Some veterans went around back and eyeballed the Governor on his way out; the Governor waved but did not speak to them. The Governor did make this flaccid comment to the press about the protest:

“I certainly respect their right to object to the legislation,” Daugaard said. “That’s what America is all about — freedom of speech. The majority of the Legislature did not agree with them. We want to show the kind of respect that we show to those who have served overseas to all men and women who are willing to take that risk” [Bryan Horwath, “Governor’s Visit Sparks Veteran Protest,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.10].

Vietnam War Army veteran and HB 1179 protester Terry Fowler of Aberdeen told the press that he and his fellow protesters want “to get this on the ballot in November so the public can vote on it.” A third referendum? What fun! But you fellas are burning daylight. Eleven of the 90 days available for circulating referendum petitions have passed, and the Secretary of State has not received the paperwork necessary to start petitioning HB 1179 to referendum.


  1. Francis Schaffer 2015-04-11 07:37

    Hey, Dennis visiting with them would have been a great way to show respect. Listening and agreeing are different if no one told you, let me be the first. You could have shown leadership by having a dialogue instead of a monologue.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-11 07:50

    Right on, Francis. Wade out into the crowd, hear them out, and tell them how to go about referring the law, if that’s the route they want to pursue. Good leaders seek out conversation and help citizens learn.

  3. Roger Elgersma 2015-04-11 09:56

    Putting in a few Chinese classes will not impress the Chinese after EB 5. He not only does not know how to deal with foreigners but does not understand our own vets, nor want to talk with them to understand.

  4. mike from iowa 2015-04-11 10:28

    Can’t mix with the rabble. Lord god what if they have guns?

  5. PlanningStudent 2015-04-13 07:58

    Does HB 1179 only control state benefits or does it also increase access to state administered, federal benefits? I’ve heard good people disagree on this point.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-13 08:25

    Interesting question, Planning. As I look through the VA website, I find this page on eligibility for home loan assistance. The VA appears to have its own criteria for veteran eligibility, independent of any state definitions. I would think the feds would have similar criteria for other benefits. Among the folks you’ve heard disagree, have any of them been able to point to a federal veterans’ benefits program that hinges on a state-level definition? I suppose that’s not impossible, but I’d be surprised if it happened.

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