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Noem’s Acceptance of Refugees a Trumpist Charade

It’s easy to casually read Governor Kristi Noem’s December 20 announcement that South Dakota will accept refugees in 2020 as deserving praise. Journalist David Lias properly reminds us that Noem’s announcement is really just more anti-refugee Trumpism in thin disguise:

Noem, speaking of Trump’s executive order and her signing of a letter of consent regarding it, said, “These assurances and a responsible screening process ensure that South Dakota’s interests are best protected so we can support continued participation in the program.”

South Dakota’s interests have never been put in danger by refugees. The state’s future, however, may suffer because so few refugees will be settling here thanks to Trump and people who think like him [David Lias, “Noem Credits Trump for Horrible Refugee Policy,” Vermillion Plain Talk, 220.01.03].

Helping more refugees should be a moral imperative for the richest and professedly most Christian nation in the world. Welcoming newcomers fleeing war and oppression is good for our souls and our economy. Yet Noem is cheering a policy that means South Dakota gives shelter to far fewer people in need:

Betty Oldenkamp, the president and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader last month that South Dakota will get fewer than 80 refugees this year. That would be the fewest number of refugees resettled in the state since 1980, the year the nation’s refugee resettlement program was created. In 2014, the state took in 536 refugees.

“We really think that it’s important for South Dakota to continue to welcome people, especially those that have experienced persecution,” Oldenkamp said.

Sadly we can’t. We can’t because of draconian immigration policies. Horrible policies regarding refugees that Noem regretfully credits “to the leadership of President Trump” [Lias, 2020.01.03].

And as Noem slyly acknowledges in her December 20 statement—”For the communities that want to welcome these refugees, I support giving them that opportunity“—she and Trump are still giving local communities the power to bar refugees from settling in their portions of America. The notion that any American jurisdiction can say to any person legally present in this country “You can’t live here” is immoral and unconstitutional… but that’s exactly the xenophobic and illegal order that Governor Noem is praising.

There’s plenty of room on our prairie for more people, but no such room, apparently, in our hearts.

Related Reading: A federal court may moot Noem’s fakery. Three refugee assistance organizations sued the Trump Administration in November over its illegal scheme to give state and local governments veto power over refugee resettlement. If Governor Noem really accepted refugees, she’d have sent Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg to join Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, and nine other suits in their December 13 friend-of-the-court brief in support of the plaintiffs and refugee resettlement. A Maryland federal court hears oral arguments in that lawsuit on Wednesday.


  1. Porter Lansing 2020-01-04 13:46

    To clarify … Cory. You wrote, “Welcoming newcomers fleeing war and oppression is good for our souls and our economy.” Do atheists believe they have a soul? As a believer in Jesus, I’m certain you have a soul but I’m interested to know if all atheists believe that, if only you Cory, believe that, or if you don’t know what other atheists believe. Just askin’.

  2. John 2020-01-04 14:43

    The laughable fallout from this trumpest-noem charade will be a shortage of labor, which increases labor costs to the modern Tory lords of the land.

  3. mike from iowa 2020-01-04 15:09

    Shortage of white American labor only intensifies korporate demands of immigrant, ie cheap labor, and we all know korporate Amerika gets what it wants.

    How much of a background check does the ditzy occupant of the guv’s seat feel is sufficient if 2-3 year background ground checks on Syrian refugees failed to satisfy wingnut critics?

    Lawdy, if these wingnuts aren’t hypocrites, the word has yet to be invented.

  4. Debbo 2020-01-04 15:12

    “she and Trump are still giving local communities the power to bar refugees from settling in their portions of America.”

    This is different from redlining or any other form of discrimination how?

  5. happy camper 2020-01-04 15:56

    My guess the fear is about those they think, by some identifiable group, won’t modernize or accept the basic values of this country (or in this case South Dakota). I’ve been asking myself why so many attacks have occurred against Orthodox Jews on the east coast. After doing quite a bit of reading the main motive seems to be economic, which for the Jews is driven by cultural reasons. It’s kind of fascinating since we are not exposed to them, but the Orthodox Jews are almost more like Orthodox Muslims. They shun mathematics and science, want men and women to be separated, and encourage the men to spend a lifetime of religious learning. And because they are not very employable, don’t really want to work but study, but have large families they are a drain on the welfare system. This is especially visible in Lakewood, NJ that has a fast growing community of almost 60% Orthodox in a place that was once heavily minority black and Hispanic, but those groups are being pushed out now by the growth of their community. Their influence has spread to adjoining cities and back in Brooklyn where some of these attacks have also occurred mainly from African Americans (70%). It’s interesting because this hate does not seem to come from Trumpists in fact Orthodox Jews voted for him in extremely high numbers. But in these cities they have caused huge resentment because they want separate busing of their kids segregated by sex to their private schools at great taxpayer expense. They sometimes put up signs with their rules they want you to follow, so just trying to understand what’s driving the antisemitic hate, I think some parallels can be made to why people are fearful elsewhere (rightly or wrongly). I just want to remind everyone Cory was fearful of a group of 1,200 predominately male workers, so judgements get made by everyone about groups of people. What’s also telling there are similar resentments toward Orthodox Jews in Isreal by the moderates and non-religious. They don’t want to serve in the military were it’s a requirement, and they also are a burden on their welfare system. You can read Jewish newspapers and see this written both in the articles but then especially in the comment section they say Isreal is somewhat being split apart by these factions. I realize some of this sounds a little far out but The New York Times and LA Times have written about it, and how this group has been guilty of welfare fraud in high numbers. Members of Lakewood say they have been subjected to many dirty tricks to push them out, like trying to buy their black churches. When trying to buy property they have been so bold as to say if you don’t sell now you’ll end up being the last one surrounded by Orthodox and then your property will be of lesser value. When they get the numbers they want to change rules in public common places within housing developments like to make swimming pools just for men and woman at different times of the day. Cory used to talk about the multicultural umbrella everyone can fit under, but it’s worth remembering not every culture wants to fit under our common umbrella. Below are a couple links about this so I’m not deemed a heretic.

  6. buckobear 2020-01-05 00:02

    Yes sirree ! Right (oops) here in South Dakota.
    What’s next ? Required reading of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion?”
    Happy Camping !

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-01-05 13:18

    Porter, when I speak of souls, I make no primary metaphysical claim. I refer to our moral health, our sense of who we are and what we hold to be good. Welcoming newcomers requires us to expand our view of the world and to practice empathy and hospitality. Helping people escape danger and oppression and experience the joy of being Americans enhances our better sentiments, while slamming doors only stokes our selfishness and pettiness.

    Whether or not there is any supernatural creator or scorekeeper, being good Americans is good for us, while being Trumpist jerks is morally unhealthy.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-01-05 13:24

    Hap, not sure what you’re getting at, and not sure how your comment changes this reality: rejecting refugees is bad for South Dakota and bad for America.

    Show me people who are fleeing their home countries because of war and oppression, and I won’t ask them to tell me their religion first; I’ll say, “Come to America. Be part of America.” If they want to live like the Hutterites in their isolated and homogenous communities, well, so be it. As long as they play by the rules and don’t break our laws, this is America, and America is for everyone. And if there are people with unhealthy exclusionary attitudes, our best shot at curing those unhealthy attitudes is to allow them to see how an inviting pluralistic America provides the best quality of life and protection of religious/cultural liberty for everyone.

    South Dakota communities have no business banning refugees. We should maintain a clear and robust national policy of welcoming refugees. We should have welcomed more Jewish refugees before and during World War II.

  9. bearcreekbat 2020-01-05 14:54

    Porter, in response to your question about the beliefs of athiests, I can give you my own current belief. Since I have never seen, heard nor read any verifiable evidence indicating the factual existence of a soul, I have no particular reason to think a soul exists nor that I personally have a soul. As an athiest, however, I remain open to changing my view if new credible information surfaces.

  10. happy camper 2020-01-05 16:03

    I’m pointing out some minorities don’t want to blend, and when they control their small tent they want to control you. So no, Noem’s statement was quite reasonable. The Jewish Orthodox situation is completely relevant and forces us to look at the ugly issues individually not just repeat our favorite platitudes because so many things don’t fit. Your description of how to change exclusionary attitudes is just naive and untruthful.

    Some Jewish writers think leftists (like yourself) are a greater threat than white nationalists for the reasons you extol and the embrace of political correctness rather than looking for real causes. Liberals don’t know what to say when African Americans, one minority, are the assailants against another. You can’t just fall back into your pluralistic talk like all is good when at times these groups are intolerant of one another. You have to be willing to look deeper at the why.

    The only time you point fingers at a group is when it’s a group of white guys. Preferably Republican. That’s a safe group to criticize or disparage, but anyone deemed a minority is above reproach since the former are deemed the oppressors, but your calling 1,200 working men basically a bunch of would be-rapists fully woke me to it’s just politics. Truth be damned.

    There are cultures that want to come to the United States that don’t want to modernize, get along with others, and play nice. Back in the days of Ellis Island America was never “for everyone.” Screening for harmony is completely reasonable.

    For the sake of pointing out it’s not so simple and quite a jumbled mess of perspectives I’ll submit the following link. She points out black anti-semitism began cohabitating with leftist antisemitism under the banner of intersectionality and the influences of Farrakhan. They’re afraid of you!!! And so am I an open door policy is suicide. We should start minding our own damn business and stop causing so much turbulence.

  11. Donald Pay 2020-01-05 16:44

    Happy Camper likes to point to the sins of others. That gives him and excuse not to deal with his own.

    When people say “blend” I’m not sure what they mean. People do the best they can to get along with their neighbors. My grandparents spoke German in their house for years, though by the time that I was young, their German had gotten a little rusty. In northwest Iowa many German extended families settled by chain migration. You could get by with German in many communities for a while. There were German language newspapers up until World War II. The Dutch and other nationalities came in to the area and people learned English so they could talk to each other. German church services went English so the new neighbors could join and not feel left out, though many probably refused to “blend” their religion to German Lutheranism and formed Dutch Reformed congregations. The World Wars sort of encouraged English-speaking among the German immigrants. German was not something anyone wanted to speak in public.

    Immigrants who settled in large cities generally establish their local communities in somewhat segregated areas. Often it was not their intention to segregate. It’s just how the majority community set things up, what with the sort of fear of new folks that seems to be a problem among some folks.

    My mom said, and I’ve noticed with my daughter’s schools, that primary grades tends to do a great job of helping students of different cultures “blend.” It’s not so much the schools as the playground. Kids want to understand each other so they can play together. Get adults playing softball or soccer and you get the same effect.

  12. Porter Lansing 2020-01-05 17:34

    Thanks, Bear. Our beliefs are different. Beliefs don’t make us better people. Actions make us better people.

  13. bearcreekbat 2020-01-05 18:33

    Happy’s link to writer Caroline Glick, who seems to present herself as a right-wing Trump apologist, is interesting, and helped me understand the meaning of “leftist anti-semite” as referenced in Happy’s comment. I had neither read or met any “leftist anti-semites” so I was a bit puzzled. Here is Glick’s definition of “leftist anti-semite’ in the linked article:

    Leftist anti-Semites get their ideological inspiration from the Soviet Union and the PLO/Hamas. Like the Soviets and Palestinian terrorists, they reject the existence of Jewish civilization. They deny the right of Jews to Jewish history, to the Jewish homeland, to Jewish nationalism and to Jewish peoplehood.

    I may have missed a comment, but as best I can recall, neither Cory nor any of left-leaning commenters here on DFP, who Happy apparently describes as “leftists (like yourself),” have submitted even one comment that would reveal or endorse any of the “Leftist anti-Semite” characteristics listed by Glick.

  14. Porter Lansing 2020-01-05 18:45

    Happy is using anti-Semitism as a metaphor for Islam. He knows if he starts attacking Muslims in SD again, he’ll be roundly denounced, as he has been so many times on DFP. There are zero fundamentalist Jews as refugees coming to South Dakota, which is what this thread is exposing. There are however Muslim refugees and they’re the “dog whistle” group that Noem doesn’t want “invading” her state.
    Happy knows that Muslims hate him for his sexuality. He rarely mentions that Catholics hate him just as much, just in a passive aggressive manor. There are of course thousand upon thousands more fundamentalist Catholics in SD than Muslim refugees. Put your anger where it belongs, Camper. You attack we liberals when we’re the main group that supports you. More self loathing, again?

  15. leslie 2020-01-05 18:49

    Happy, you are so unhappy and misinformed.

    Your quoted statements: “some minorities don’t want to blend”, “political correctness rather than looking for real causes. Liberals don’t know what to say when African Americans, one minority, are the assailants against another.” “The only time you point fingers at a group is when it’s a group of white guys. Preferably Republican.” “…leftists (like yourself) are a greater threat than white nationalists….” “There are cultures that want to come to the United States that don’t want to modernize, get along with others, and play nice.”

    These are foolish opinions incorrect on many significant levels! Kristi Noem, used the words ‘riot’ or ‘rioters’ 12 times, wrapping them neatly next to now-familiar trigger phrases such as ‘out-of-staters’, ‘out-of-state money’, and ‘George Soros’. Aeon Newsletter 12.19.19

    The Montana author wrote: “The so-called rioters, aligned against a pipeline carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, are the leading edge of a definitional battle with crucial consequences both for democracy and for the future of human survival in the face of the climate crisis and environmental degradation.”

    Dems believe the cruel catastrophe at the border deserves humane deep legislative changes. Palestinians deserve no less. That does mot make Dems a danger. White supremacy and trump’s minority support is a clear danger. Which side of the picket line are you on?

  16. mike from iowa 2020-01-05 18:50

    I hadn’t noticed Cory, or anyone else who posts here, snuggling up with Putin and begging for his praise like a certain orange blob of hemoglobin in DC, one we know has anti-semitic inclinations.

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