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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Anonymous Flyers in the News

Last weekend, I wrote about the anonymous flyers that appeared all over my neighborhood, along with brochures promoting Dave Hafner and the write-in candidacies of Ken Smart and Delray Rokke. Since then, the story has been covered by both the Minnesota Independent and the Pioneer Press.

Like any city, Maplewood includes bigots among its residents. I was reminded of this fact at the League of Women Voters forum on Thursday. The candidates were talking about inclusiveness and specifically about Hmong families that are enthusiastic users of our parks, and one woman in the audience (who is, as it happens, a vocal supporter of Hafner, Cave and Longrie) declared loudly, “They don't speak English!” Setting aside the obvious falsehood of this generalization, so what? I can only suppose this person lives in fear of change and loathing diversity, and is the kind of voter who would be persuaded by the flyer's not-so-subtle message and other similar scaremongering.

Even on the city council, we saw Councilmember Erik Hjelle declare earlier this year that basketball courts are magnets for “gang members” and should be removed.

But as I told the Pioneer Press, I don't believe these people represent our community. They are the bad apples that often spoil public discourse with their hate, whether open or veiled – but we find them so noxious in part because they are the exception, and they offend our idea of our community and the values of human rights and human decency that most of us share.

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