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Noem Follows George Wallace in Scapegoating Outsiders to Mute Protest

Governor Kristi Noem has told a bald-faced lie about Hungarian philanthropist George Soros backing protests against the pipelines she worships. The ACLU, which is helping opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline sue Noem over her new pipeline-protecting anti-free-speech bill, likens Noem’s bogeyman tactics to George Wallace’s dismissal of 1960s civil rights activists as “outside agitators”:

Kristi Noem and George Wallace
Kristi Noem, George Wallace

And if Governor Noem’s rhetoric on “shut[ting] down” “out-of-state people” who come into South Dakota to “slow and stop construction” of the pipeline sounds familiar, it should. It echoes government attempts throughout our history to justify anti-protest actions by delegitimizing protesters as “outside agitators.”

In 1964, infamous segregationist George Wallace said racial tensions did not exist in the South “except in a very few isolated instances” caused exclusively by “outside agitators.” He was not alone in attempting to frame the civil rights movement in the South as the work of “outside agitators.” Southern authorities frequently attempted to discount legitimate grievances and protests by Black people as nothing more than an attempt by radical outsiders to sow dissent. They even called Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. an “outside agitator” [Andrew Malone and Vera Eidelman, “The South Dakota Legislature Has Invented a New Legal Term to Target Pipeline Protesters,” American Civil Liberties Union, 2019.04.01].

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being from elsewhere and caring about what happens in South Dakota; everyone affected by bad energy infrastructure policy has a right to speak up:

The government has dismissed Native Americans, state farmers and ranchers, and residents of nearby states who opposed the pipeline as outside agitators. But the pipeline, if constructed, would have a substantial impact on all of their lives – including our clients, many of whom are South Dakotans. Moreover, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is a national issue, and it deserves a national debate.

Opposition to the construction of the pipeline may agitate Gov. Noem, but the First Amendment guarantees the right to voice that opposition. Those affected by the pipeline’s construction deserve to be heard even if Gov. Noem and TransCanada want them all to shut up [Malone and Eidelman/ACLU, 2019.04.01].

George Wallace scapegoated outsiders to protect his racist regime; now Kristi Noem is doing the same to protect her corporate-fascist regime. That’s surely worth protesting.


  1. mike from iowa 2019-04-02

    Black Hills Energy has a vested interest inn invadfing NW iowa. They are part of the power supply and are advertising for customers around here. Talk about outside agitators.

    As for outside agitators in the South, a leading men’s magazine printed a story about a determined Detroit woman who saw it as her duty to go to Mississippi and help with protests for civil rights. She and two black men were murdered and it was likely the FBI killed them. I believe the woman’s name was Viola Luizo. If this is true apparently J Edgar wasn’t fond of some outside agitators either.

  2. Donald Pay 2019-04-02

    A good district attorney might be able to turn that law against, oh, Governor Noem. She better watch what she says, because she’s funded by a lot of outside agitators, and if her words are construed to be boosting a riot by TransCanada goons or even law enforcement, that law works both ways, you know.

  3. Rorschach 2019-04-02

    The Koch brothers are her kind of outside agitators.

  4. Donald Pay 2019-04-02

    Ror, true, and that’s why Noem had better be very careful about her words regarding casting lawful protestors as some sort of enemy to be dealt with harshly by a squadristi, whether that squadristi has a badge or not. That law is wide-open to interpretation, and if she runs her mouth in a way that stokes the squadristi into doing anything that sparks riot, she, TransCanada, her donors and the banks behind TransCanada may be cited for boosting a riot. That law does not point in one direction.

  5. Donald Pay 2019-04-02

    Keep track of Noem’s and others’ statements that might indicate boosting a riot. Write letters to the banks supporting TransCanada and to the donors supporting Noem know that they might come under the terms of these new laws. Buy one share of stock in the bank(s) supporting TransCanada and engage in a stockholders’ action against such banks supporting TransCanada. All of this is legally protected protest.

  6. Chris S. 2019-04-02

    You almost have to admire the restraint of Noem to avoid putting George Soros in (((parentheses))) so her audience has no doubt that she’s talking about a nefarious (((globalist))) — if you know what I mean, and I think that you do.

    I’m sure she wouldn’t want to inspire a Kristi-nacht against the people she’s vilifying, but if a few unstable people get the wrong idea . . . well, it wouldn’t be her fault! Plausible deniability!

    Remember a couple weeks ago when everybody was suddenly concerned about “tropes” so they could beat up on Rep. Ilhan Omar? I guess we’re back to business as usual.

  7. 96Tears 2019-04-02

    Great points, Don. I can see the TV ad right now. Outside agitators … runnin’ yer guv’mint!

    So, who is keeping track of Governor Kristi von Shtupp, the Reichsgräfin of Hamlin County? She’s a hick gone wild with power. Think about all those speeding violations (100 MPH) and thumbing her pointy little nose at court orders to appear. That’s back when she was a small fry.

    Now that she’s the Grand Carp of state government, she still acts as though she’s entitled and invisible. People like that make the worst mistakes again and again. Is there anybody good out there who’s a Dem and does opposition research?

  8. Debbo 2019-04-02

    Cory, your last paragraph is so perfectly worded, I tweeted and FBed it.

    Noem is no different than Wallace, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

    What word could we substitute in for “segregation” to fit SD’s Grand Ruler? (BTW, isn’t there an organization Wallace loved that called its leader a “Grand” somethingorother?)

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-05

    I like the case Donald is setting up. Let’s keep track of all the ways Noem is encouraging riotous behavior.

    By the way, if any of TransCanada’s Quebecois shareholders get dragged into this, can we bust them as riot boostiers?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-05

    I’ll agree with Ror on the CP case. The CP needed no judicial help in destroying itself.

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