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Haugaard: Jobs, Schmobs, I Want My WASP Culture!

Steven Haugaard
Don’t dilute my culture! It’s thin enough already!

The dumbest thing said in committee testimony to defeat a smart bill yesterday came from Speaker of the House Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls) against Senate Bill 117, South Dakota’s effort to catch up with 44 other states that offer driver’s license exams in Spanish. Prime sponsor and economist Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) joined the South Dakota, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City Chambers of Commerce and other advocates of jobs and justice to say offering driver’s license exams in Spanish would boost employment and public safety. Speaker Haugaard pointed out his obvious inability to put practical problem-solving ahead of his imagined role as a brave culture warrior:

“The idea that we’re going to dilute our population with a second culture and encourage that second culture it doesn’t advance our state at all,” Speaker of the House, Steven Haugaard said. [Ricardo Lewis, “South Dakota Lawmakers Reject Bill to Allow Spanish Driver’s License Tests,” KSFY-TV, 2019.02.27].

Allowing residents to take a test in another language does nothing to dilute our culture (which belongs to everyone, not just powerful Protestant male descendants of Danes like Speaker Haugaard). If “assimilation” is really a valid cultural goal, communicating with new Americans in other languages actually helps integrate those new Americans into our economic, political, and social culture.

My Representative Drew Dennert and eight other Republican House State Affairs members voted SB 117 a la muerte. Only Democratic Reps. McCleerey and Smith and Republican Reps. Anderson and Kent Peterson voted to listen to the economist and the business community and say we should help our new neighbors get their driver’s licenses.


  1. Buckobear 2019-02-28

    Wanna bet that a bill offering the test in some Scandahoovian dialect would be a slam dunk ??

  2. Jenny 2019-02-28

    What a very unprofessional statement and in a lot of workplaces that would be enough to be classified as derogatory and therefore being fired.

  3. o 2019-02-28

    Although I don’t agree with the argument – it is, in its own political context, true — in that this elected representative seems to be representing the wishes of the majority (of the population that elects him). This is one of those moments that I hope those who are represented rise up to say, “no, that does NOT represent us,” or this action swings the next election so that the population says, “YOU do not represent us.” As we continue to speak of how certain elected officials and their actions appall us, keep in mind that elections have consequences. These people did not have their names drawn from a hat to take a position of power in Pierre, a majority of SD citizens (from that region) elected them to do so.

  4. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2019-02-28

    Speaker Haugaard speaks of our “culture,” but are we not already a state of more than one culture?
    Has he not forgotten the existence in this state – and relative to most states – a rather large indigenous population, that speaks to the reality we are a state of cultures and not “culture,” and this multiplicity makes us stronger and prouder, and not weaker?

    I find great irony, that in the same week a Republican governor in this state would welcome the permanent placement of tribal flags in our Statehouse Rotunda, that a Republican Speaker of the same state would see us as merely one culture.

    Speaker Haugaard has had an incredible session so far, has he not? He has denied the right of one to petition one’s government on the House side of our legislative branch, he has equated pre-K public education with socialism, and now he dismisses the culture of our indigenous people in this state.

    Perhaps, it is time for our Speaker to return to school; and thus, he is further proof of a need for greater public education in this state – like public pre-K and beyond – and not less.

  5. Rorschach 2019-02-28

    Spokes(white)man for the “wackies”

  6. TAG 2019-02-28

    Diluting our state with a 2nd culture??? Haugaard (Danish name) may want to remember that there have been many cultures in South Dakota prior to the current American/western one, a few of which still exist in this state. Like 8 to 10% of the population.

    So the English-speaking culture is hardly the first. Even if you are saying it is “first” in current dominance, you still have to aknowlege the enduring presence of non-white aboriginal cultures living in this state. So Hispanics might be considered a 3rd or 4th culture here? Semantics, I know.

    Another hypocritical way we are applying an unfair standard to spanish-speaking adult immigrants is that learning a second language as an adult is incredibly hard. Despite this, most 2nd-generation immigrants are fully integrated in terms of language. Some of them even have the good fortune of being bi-lingual. Most of our German and Scandinavian ancestors that settled SD had the same issues, and they often never learned much English, if any at all. Some entire towns kept speaking German until it became very unpopular during WWI.

    The point is, accommodating people with Spanish exams isn’t promoting a “2nd culture”. It’s just good business. Their kids will be fully integrated into the English-speaking mainstream. Stop the xenophobia and hypocrisy.

  7. John Tsitrian 2019-02-28

    What is the “culture” of South Dakota, anyway? I’d love to hear a definition from this guardian of it.

  8. Debbo 2019-02-28

    I’m with Buckobear. It’s all about the skin color and preserving that mythical 1950s, Leave It to Beaver, white male dominance. Haugard is a pitiful example for SD. But then, so is the SDGOP.

  9. Porter Lansing 2019-02-28

    I love to hear a definition too, John. But truthfully, I’ve been gone 43 years and I can’t understand half of what y’all Dakokies are sayin’, anymore. Where’d that accent come from?

  10. Kal Lis 2019-02-28

    One hates to pile on, but the absurdity of Haugaard’s comments make it too easy.

    As other commenters have noted, it’s unclear what culture Haugaard is referring to. If he’s referring to what’s commonly called western civilization, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, Augustine, Aquinas et al did not speak English.

    If he is referring to the United States and its territories, San Juan and St. Augustine were both established before Jamestown. Santa Fe may have been settled before Jamestown as well. All of those settlers would have spoken Spanish. English, therefore, seems to be the second language and culture watering everything down.

    Does anyone know if Haugaard graduated from Trump University? That might explain some of his actions and statements.

  11. David Newquist 2019-02-28

    When I served in Germany during the Cold War, a number of members from each unit were sent to a propaganda school so that they could recognize and report any indications of Nazi insurgency they came across. Haugaard’s statement in its expression of some kind of cultural purity conforms precisely to those indictors.

  12. Donald Pay 2019-02-28

    Haugaard owes South Dakota an apology, along with Spanish-speaking and English-speaking residents. The culture of South Dakota owes a lot to Mexican influence. West River cattle ranching is largely derived from Mexican culture. For example, “ranch” is an English word derived from a Spanish word, as is “rodeo.” Cowboy culture has deep roots in Mexico. Is there anything more South Dakotan than a cowboy leaving the ranch to compete in a rodeo? Hardly, unless he’s riding a bull with a Marlboro in his lips.

    South Dakota water law is derived from western water law, which was derived from laws and concepts in place in the Spanish territories. Some laws regarding mineral properties and mining are of Mexican origin.

    And what is the “second culture?” If you are historically correct, which you shouldn’t expect from someone like Haugaard, the “second culture” here would be the culture brought here by immigrants from Northern Europe. You know the people who used “chain migration” to settle in lands illegally stolen from Indians.

  13. David Owen 2019-02-28

    Actually, on the key vote which was “Do Pass” Representative Diedrich voted Yea. Then voted to support the 41st day motion after all hope was dashed.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-28

    O, Haugaard’s comment certainly doesn’t reflect the will of the Chamber members who voted R in 2018.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-28

    Kal Lis, we must pile on. In a debate round, we’d point out on our ballot that a patently offensive and fallacious argument is offensive and fallacious, the coach and debaters would see that, and that argument would go away. But Haugaard will hear that critique and just ban us from entering the House. Haugaard needs to hear this critique from everyone he meets, from every newspaper he reads, from every call he gets… and ultimately, from several thousand voters in District 10.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-28

    JKC, if Haugaard has any awareness of our cultural diversity, it takes the form of disregard, marginalization, fear, and/or loathing. His America is the myth-land Debbo describes, white Founding Fathers speaking his language, praying at his altar, affirming his lifestyle with WASPy conformity.

    Haugaard needs to go.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-28

    Our culture is fluid. It will never be what it was in 1787, or 1955, or 1978 when I was growing up in very white Madison. It won’t be what it is right now, ever again. Our culture is what everyone here makes it. As new people come, culture changes. Our culture is change. That is America’s greatest strength. Those who have resisted change have consistently been on the wrong side of American history.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-28

    Oh yeah, and why the heck not give Spanish versions of the driver’s exam? Good practical benefits, better public service, safer roads, more people getting to work… are all of those benefits really outweighed by Haugaard’s vague notions of cultural dilution?

    Canada does everything in two languages. Their culture appears to be happy and healthy.

  19. 96Tears 2019-02-28

    Moments later, Speaker Haugaard emerged from his House office having been injected with truth serum. He then modified his earlier statement.

    “The idea that we’re going to dilute our white bloodlines with Mexican bloodlines and encourage Mexican bloodlines it doesn’t advance our state at all.”

    Smiling, Speaker Haugaard sat at his desk, explaining he was happy to “get that off my chest” and saying something about “too much political correctness.”

  20. Adam 2019-02-28

    Trumptard needs to become the new N-word.

    SD Dems know it more than most.

  21. jerry 2019-02-28

    I guarantee that if all Mexicans were white Protestants, we would not be having any kinds of discussions like these. That Haugaard is a complete and absolute racist as are those who elected him their leader.

  22. Ken 2019-02-28

    I’ve lived here 45 of my 67 years, and the bigotry has never been well hidden. Nor has the racism. People here, or at least quite a few of them, are extremely backwards-minded. ANYTHING resembling progress, or really, anything that threatens their 1900s-addled minds instantly becomes the enemy.

    The only thing that deluded is that idiot’s bigoted mind.

  23. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-02-28

    Haugaard is a perfect example of what needs to be “diluted.”

  24. Roger Cornelius 2019-02-28

    To put this simply, it isn’t about Mexicans taking a driver’s exam in their own language, it is about SDGOP HATE!!

  25. DebiUlreyCrosby 2019-02-28

    I’m embarrassed to say I live in SD! And they wonder why people don’t want to move here? How much longer can some people stick their head in the sand and refuse to accept other cultures? This makes me angry on so many levels. The bigotry, idiotic verbiage…I could go on but I’ll stop before I have a stroke! Just aggravated. Who continues to vote these people into office?!

  26. grudznick 2019-02-28

    Mr. Haugaard has been off the rails for years, and it is something that the nut jobs in the legislatures made him a speaker. Their reputations are suffering as a result. Rhoden laughing, Rhoden laughing.

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-02-28

    Rhoden laughing? Through his tears, as he submits himself to subordinacy beneath a less qualified Governor? Pish tosh.

    Haugaard is wacky. Rhoden isn’t much less wacky.

  28. Donald Pay 2019-02-28

    Part of my job used to be to go into restaurants to find jobs for people. Once I got them a job, I’d follow up to see how things were going. This meant going into kitchens and dishwashing areas, where a lot of Mexican staff worked.

    And once there, I was hit with a wall of music that was so joyous. And the guys would be singing a little off key, but not ashamed. And the women would be making the salad fixings, and they’d be singing. Working and making it fun to what sounded a lot like polkas that you would hear in any white small town between Pennsylvania and the Dakotas.

    I did a little research and found that it wasn’t just my imagination. It turns out accordion-influenced music became popularized in three parts of North America: the Mid-east to Mid-west, the New Orleans area, where the instrument was often simplified to the squeeze box, and the Tex-Mex border region, where the accordion and polka beat was added into existing music. Instead of “diluting,” introducing the same instrument into these different cultures has given us three very lively, joyful styles of music.

    THAT’s what music, a common heritage of all people and all cultures, teaches us. Nothing gets diluted, it just gets more diverse and more joyful.

    To me, this is very interesting, and it shows

  29. Donald Pay 2019-02-28

    Pardon me while I finish my missive.

    …it shows that worries about things getting “diluted” is non-musical. And it can’t dance. That kind of thinking has the beat of the Nazi parade. The Nazi’s hated jazz, by the way.

  30. Debbo 2019-02-28

    As I’ve often said regarding the GOP, on any level these days, Shamelessness is not a virtue.”

  31. Jambo 2019-03-01

    In a time when the “white supremest” label gets thrown around willy nilly THIS is not even a close call. Talking about your culture being diluted would be right at home with the neonazis in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Ugly and disgusting. He should be dealing with calls for his resignation. There’s a reason SD is my former home state.

  32. mike from iowa 2019-03-01

    Grudzilla called wingnuts nut jobs? I’m telling Mom.

  33. Jason 2019-03-01

    In July 2015, New York’s Fast Food Wage Board, appointed by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, agreed with the labor movement and recommended a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food workers working for companies with at least 30 stores nationwide.
    That plan looks like it was a disaster, because following the implementation of that recommendation, New York City showed the greatest plunge in restaurant jobs in almost 20 years.

    The 2015 recommendation meant that wages among fast-food restaurant workers in New York City would rise to $15 an hour by December 2018. A survey published near the end of 2018 found “76.50% of full service restaurant respondents reduced employee hours, and 36.30% eliminated jobs in 2018 … 75% of limited service restaurant respondents report that they will reduce employee hours, and 53.10% will eliminate jobs in 2019 as a result of mandated wage increases that took effect on December 31, 2018 … When the tip wage increased 50% in 2015, and since doubled, annual employment growth dropped from 6.67% to less than 1% as of November 2018.”

  34. o 2019-03-01

    OS Jason, restaurant workers should keep working for far below a living wage to keep all restaurants open and happy? Exploiting labor cannot be a business plan.

  35. o 2019-03-01

    Cory, has the Chamber expressed its displeasure for this non-representation? It seems not only SD voters, but also SD PACs do a poor job of holding their elected officials accountable.

  36. Dana P 2019-03-01

    Haugaard is sure hitting it out of the park this session, isn’t he? (giving the lobbyist the boot — thus, costing SD taxpayers money) Shaking my head.

    With the incident in January, the comments on this — can you imagine what we DON’T know?

    Yes, Haugaard needs to go. Yesterday

  37. Porter Lansing 2019-03-01

    Why did/do Nazi/Germans hate jazz?

  38. TAG 2019-03-01

    My Norwegian Great-Grandfather illegally immigrated to the midwest (there weren’t restrictions then, but he was 17) in the 1890’s and worked in agricultural and Railroad jobs in SD, Minnesota and Iowa. Mainly because there just weren’t enough jobs or land to go around in Norway at the time, and men without means couldn’t get married. He was essentially an underage migrant farm worker.

    He went back to Norway with some money, got married, had 3 kids in 3 years, and then immigrated a 2nd time (chain migration) to SD. He helped build Orman Dam (Belle Fourche Dam), the largest earthen dam on the planet at the time, and had 12 kids (breeding like rabbits).

    He only knew a little English, and his wife never learned any. But they still contributed to society, paid taxes, and were generally good people. All their children became regular English-speaking South Dakotans. The main difference between them an the Mexicans is the color of their skin.

  39. Debbo 2019-03-01

    Porter, jazz is “Negro music.”

    Here’s Haugard’s thin WASP culture, per the SF AL:
    “Former Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras will not spend time in prison after being sentenced for child pornography possession Thursday.

    “Sideras was given a suspended six year sentence and six years probation. He was also given a sentence of 180 days in with 80 days suspended.”

    Makes me sick. Those guys want to ostracize LBTG people, lock-out up others for smoking a little weed, and play other silly tough-on-crime games, but when this repulsive perv plays with child porn he Doesn’t. Even. Get. Any. Prison. Time.

    SDGOP must be so proud.

  40. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01

    O, the Chamber needs to have a come to Jesus moment. They have to realize that their usual support for the GOP establishment is fostering a political environment that is counterproductive to their goals. The Chamber would make strides toward achieving its goals by shaking up the Republicans with concerted and substantial support of Democrats in Haugaard’s district and several other key districts that would shift the balance of power in Pierre.

    Or the Chamber could just pour money into moderate Republican challengers against all the wackies. I’ll bet the SD Municipal League would help.

  41. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01

    Jambo, I’m sorry our dysfunctional political culture drove you away. I like to think we can still do some justice, out and oust white supremacist-apologists like Haugaard, and Make South Dakota Great Again so folks like you would want to come home.

  42. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-01

    Haugaard’s words about diluting culture are right out of the Klan playbook. His words only affirm the ravings of white supremacists.

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