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Editorial: People speak up in defense of our city of Willmar

The West Central Tribune Thursday criticized a social media post about an alleged Willmar couple who painted a picture of diversity in Willmar that is distorted and was bigoted at the root of its argument.

The original Facebook post by a west central Minnesota native, now living out-of-state, has now been deleted. Thank goodness.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done to our fair city of Willmar.

This bigoted message has been re-posted many times via social media and emailed by many people, including individuals within the Willmar community, within west central Minnesota and across the country. We heard about it from Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and elsewhere.

Some added their own comments, citing this social media post as proof of Willmar’s alleged Muslim problems, or just forwarded it to many people because they apparently agreed with the bigoted post.

Intelligent individuals questioned the veracity of the post’s points. And, rightly so.

Some just considered the post to be bogus “and really don’t understand the attention.”

The reality is if we just ignore bigotry or hatred, we allow it to continue and contribute to the problem.

The West Central Tribune has received significant feedback on the editorial — the vast majority has been positive.

The people of Willmar and elsewhere are speaking up. We’ll let their social media and email responses speak for themselves.

“I have unfortunately seen people circling that post. It is shameful. Thank you for being a voice of reason,” wrote David Molenaar.

“I have a business partner that happens to be Muslim he is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met, happy, spreads cheer and smiles all the time. He is curious of other cultures and religions.. My own experiences in this lovely town of Willmar and its diversity has been nothing but positive, I say this straight from the heart. Great editorial,” wrote Israel Mireles.

“Bravo, Bravo for a much needed editorial! We are a nation of immigrants. You nailed it,” wrote Pam Larson Knutson.

“Hopefully, this (editorial) is what people will believe rather than the bigoted, fear mongering post that appeared on social media,” wrote Beverly Nordang.

“Well said! This (editorial) should be shared over and over,” wrote Marife Wolf.

“Your editorial ... to that ridiculous letter that went viral regarding Willmar/Muslim issues was excellent. Thanks for being vigilant,” wrote Colleen Thompson Michels.

“... This (editorial) is about hate, fear and lies being spread on Facebook by people who have no clue where Willmar is! Yet their comments are made to be fact by people who live in fear and desire to blame. Don’t you agree that it is time for Willmar to unite? Would it not be better to stand together against lies? what happen to Willmar Pride?” wrote Mike Carlson

“I truly enjoyed reading this (editorial), it’s sad to see folks spreading hate and separation, instead the love. ... As a Muslim Somali, I am glad to call Willmar home,” wrote Shafia Sixringz Ina Singub.

“Well said WCT! I read the posting on Facebook and I was embarrassed! Willmar is a wonderful town and I am glad to call it home!,” wrote Debbie Zondervan-Carlson.

Not everyone agreed. Here is one such response.

“First of all the issue is not hate but trust. People have a hard time trusting anyone that has a belief in Islam because they don’t know if their religious leaders will call them to do mass suicide bombings or call them to destroy America. The question is how can we build trust? Is it even possible to build trust with a religion like Islam where most of their direction and convictions come from the leaders of the religion and not personal convictions. Does Islam teach freedom?,” wrote Terry Van Veldhuizen.