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Ahlers More Sensitive Than Rounds to Roots of Violence and Principles for Peaceful Protest

Rather than find anything original to say about the murder of George Floyd, the SDGOP spin blog runs the weekly propaganda pieces from its incumbents, including Governor Kristi Noem, who continues to try to shove Black Lives Matter protests into the marginal past tense, and Senator Marion Michael Rounds, who waggles his finger at rioters and looters and says we can solve our problems peacefully through free and fair elections… which his party is working tirelessly to make less free and less fair.

Dan Ahlers is hoping to replace Mike Rounds in a free and fair election this fall. Ahlers, too, mentions that responding to violence with violence is a bad idea, but he at least grounds his critique not in paternalistic and pro-business scolding but in an appeal to the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

When I watched the Floyd video, it made me angry, but I cannot fathom the anger felt by an entire group of people who have repeatedly been victims of this kind of injustice. I listened to mothers speak of fear and worry about raising their young boys in a society that views them as criminals rather than people. My plea is that we do not allow our anger to result in the same violence that led to the injustice that happened to George Floyd and so many before him. Our great civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for peaceful civil disobedience. When we reply in kind with violence, we allow those who perpetrate hate and injustice a means to distract and undermine our efforts for change.

These past few years, we have become more and more divided. We can’t even say we like a news story, channel or publication without it digressing into a division over political ideology. If we can’t have conversations over trivial things, how can we have a meaningful discussion about issues of fairness, equality and justice? Compound this division with violence and all hope for change will be lost. When we are confronted with ignorance, bigotry and violence, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. If we practice the principles of the peaceful protest exemplified by Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of civil rights movement, we will find justice [Dan Ahlers, candidate for U.S. Senate, “Peace and Justice,” 2020.05.31].

Ahlers also notes that we could quell a lot of that anger and violence if we didn’t have people like Mike Rounds’s boss throwing gasoline on the fire:

I dream of an America where we are not marginalized by labels. I want to live in a country where being white doesn’t equal privileged, black skin doesn’t equal criminal, brown skin doesn’t mean foreign or terrorist and the native plight doesn’t go ignored. This change will not happen overnight and it will be the challenge that defines our generation. It will be a rebirth to the promise of America, a place for everyone from everywhere. It will be a labor that takes time, so we must first take a breath and then push forward. It will take leadership that doesn’t inflame hatred, but ignite the fire of change [Ahlers, 2020.05.31].

Everything Ahlers just listed—marginalizing people with labels, equating minority races with criminals and terrorists, ignoring Native people, and inflaming hatred—is stuff Donald Trump does and Mike Rounds never calls Trump out on.

If you want to make the progress that Rounds and Ahlers both say they want to make, you need to go to the polls in November, elect a competent Democratic President who will work to make peace and solve racism rather than fanning division and destruction, and elect a competent Democratic Senator who won’t be a toady to fascism.


  1. marvin kammerer 2020-06-07 09:29

    i am glad that i have lived long enough to see people at last talking about fascism. for years i’ve had a button in my cap that says “when FASCISM comes to AMERICA it will come wrapped in a FLAG & carrying a CROSS”. our REPUBLIC is in serious danger & we as true Patriots must step up to the plate & be counted.

  2. leslie 2020-06-07 09:33

    Free and fair. Thats the clincher. Since Goldwater and the Powell memo the GOP has systematically been taking away our right to vote. 5-6 decades. How big is Rounds war chest? Big.

    Btw does Dusty’s opponent have any redeeming character?

  3. marvin kammerer 2020-06-07 09:41

    i will support mr. ahlers & to hell with likes of rounds.i would sure like to know of the where abouts of hoop & where a huge sum of money has gone.

  4. Loren 2020-06-07 09:59

    I would love to remove that smug smile from Mikey’s face, a smile that says “I have an “R” by my name in SD and there’s nothing you can do about it.” A smile on a suck-up like him hits me like Trump hugging the flag with that goofy grin.

  5. jerry 2020-06-07 12:18

    Is Richard Benda’s daughter old enough now to release the autopsy results on the killing of her father? All of those records should now be public.

  6. jerry 2020-06-07 12:22

    Sorry, meant to link this Cory did a great blog post on this, but there must be so many crooked South Dakota politicians involved, there is a lot of redaction. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the current as well as the previous governor’s name figured prominently.

  7. Debbo 2020-06-07 15:42

    There are 3 beautifully crafted brief essays in today’s Strib by Black Minnesota authors centering on this topic. I found this one especially profound and prophetic so I copied it for you here:

    All the Stars Aflame
    By Shannon Gibney
    Special to the Star Tribune

    I always go back to Baldwin.

    “Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shining and all the stars aflame. You would be frightened because it is out of the order of nature. Any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality. Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundation.”

    This quote is from “The Fire Next Time,” James Baldwin’s seminal collection of essays on race, power and politics. It was published in 1962, but might as well have been written yesterday. Baldwin’s prescient observations about the psychology of American racism have always felt like a revelation to me — a voice from the grave whispering earth-shattering truths in my ear that should have been obvious. Even after 60 years, Baldwin’s words still manage somehow to occupy the present tense. To have effectively described the roots of white denial and disbelief that not only black people — but much of the nation, including black, brown, indigenous and even some white folks — are just DONE with the American police state and its relentless destruction of black bodies. … That is something else. That is divination.

    The white hand-wringing. What can we do? The images circulating everywhere, more popping up every day, fresh evidence of police abuse against protesters. The growing number of injured or even killed. The carnage of burning buildings and broken windows. And the reliable echoes of that ever-loved rhetorical question: But why would they bring such destruction to their own communities? The reclamation of the “bad apple” argument. The violent white nationalists (who always manage to be both well organized and a complete shock to their fellow white folks’ sense of reality) infiltrating protests and communities in Minneapolis and beyond, holding rallies in our parks and attempting to burn down libraries and minority-owned businesses. Our political leadership’s profound inability to understand the violence that is unfolding, that has always been with us but which hasn’t had a wellspring big enough from which to burst up till now. Their shock at watching civil society collapse so quickly. The disbelief that this is happening on top of another crisis: COVID-19. The insistence that this virus is more deadly than racism, so protest is a public health hazard. The many past failed attempts at reforming the seemingly intractable police state. The chanting, growing louder and louder, I Can’t Breathe! I Can’t Breathe!

    All of these are Baldwin’s stars aflame. Jamar Clark. Philando Castile. George Floyd. All those ghosts. All those black bodies that were heretofore immovable pillars are now on the move. They walk among us, and we among them, the living merging with the dead. They will have their day. They will be heard. And their voices are what is shaking heaven and earth to their foundation.

    Shannon Gibney, Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis.

  8. jerry 2020-06-07 18:49

    Mitt Romney protests with Black Lives Matter on the streets of Washington. Damn man, that’s gonna leave a mark on ol’ Chubby trumps fat melon.

    “”Mitt Romney, marching down Penn Ave towards the White House, with about 1000 mostly evangelical protesters. They’re chanting “black lives matter!” and singing “This little light of mine” “

  9. leslie 2020-06-07 19:08

    My good friend RIP (cancer way too young), intl scientist, Carter EPA, taught me so many of those political quips like “hand wringing”. We’d dine in Georgetown, museum traipse, and run in downtown Omaha summer wet heat. He’d fall, scrap himself all up. Super super human being. Brings a tear….

  10. John 2020-06-07 20:03

    The question the SD and national media should ask Senator Marion and Thune is: why aren’t you marching for, Black Lives Matter, or for Indian Lives Matter?
    Romney’s father, Senator George Romney, marched for civil rights in 1965.

    Here’s a short note on white privilege. For locals, did you go in a USDA field office and ever see a photo of POTUS Obama, then of trump? If there was no photo of the former for 8 years . . . then that office / agency / personnel were bandying white privilege.

  11. jerry 2020-06-07 22:15

    It would be very interesting if these enabling trumpian republicans would have to answer up for their misconduct.

    “To the American reader, references to Vichy France, East Germany, fascists, and Communists may seem over-the-top, even ludicrous. But dig a little deeper, and the analogy makes sense. The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947. These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.

  12. DaveFN 2020-06-07 23:29

    Right on, Loren.

  13. John 2020-06-08 06:04

    ‘The hollowing out of conservative institutions allowed trumpian ascendancy. Now the government haters in the republican party cannot stop trump. They cannot restrain him.’ “And this weakness of the Republican party—and its craven subordination to the ego, ambition, and will-to-power of one man—now stands as the gravest immediate threat to American democracy: a lesson from the 19th century of frightening immediacy to the 21st.”

  14. John 2020-06-08 15:41

    From a chapter of ‘what right looks like’ — open question to those closer tied to SD businesses — what’s the minority representation on the governing boards of SD corporations? (And government advisory boards . . . ?) And why is that representation so out of whack with the customers and / or the governed? (When you read “Black” in SD, think Indian and other minorities since the Black population is SD is low.) Think Sanford, Good Shepard, Good Samaritan, Regional Health, Avera, Daktronics, First Premier Bank, SD government, etc.
    ““In business we set targets on everything,” Ms. Hobson said. “Only in the area of diversity have I seen C.E.O.s chronically say, ‘We’re working on it.’”
    The nation’s largest health care company, CVS, has no black people on its senior leadership team.
    In finance, there are no black people on the senior leadership teams of Bank of America, JPMorgan (where managers in Phoenix branches were recorded making racist remarks) or Wells Fargo (which recently faced a federal lawsuit for discriminating against minority home buyers).
    In technology, there are zero black members of the senior leadership teams of Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
    In total, there are just four black chief executives among the 500 largest companies in the country.
    Many big companies have added black directors to their boards in recent years. But while board seats can be levers to effect change, they do little to shift the power centers within companies. Exxon, the largest U.S. energy company, has two black board members, including Ms. Burns — but the management committee is composed entirely of white men.
    “We are put into these positions that are honorific, because they want our presence,” Mr. Walker said. “But we are not given authority and resources.”

    Enlightening interview about corporate governance. It’s a long proven proposition that diverse corporations yield higher and more sustained returns than do boards and senior executive suites lacking diversity. Diversity is not about ‘feel good’; rather its about doing good for customers and profits. Get some. And shareholders should force it down the throats of boards and executive whom ‘are working on it’.

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