In battle against bigots, Willmar newspaper stands out

If you ever wanted to see a great example of how a dedicated editorial writer can provide community leadership, look no further than the West Central Tribune, which has given an elderly bigot the “what for” because of a Facebook post.

The post, which is no longer available online, lamented that Muslims have become an important part of Willmar, and that they’ve taken over the town. Bluestem Prairie has the entire post.

Typically, the Facebook post was relayed from bigot to another, and so the West Central Tribune stepped in to call them out.

The propaganda piece says an old elementary school has been turned into a mosque.

First, why is this a problem? Willmar has long been proud of its many worship sites within the community. Is this any different than a former Willmar storefront building being used as a place of worship?

Second, while it is true that a building that once was a school is now serving as a mosque, that’s a vast oversimplification of the facts. The building had not been a school for years, had been sold into private ownership and used as a location of business. And when that business closed, the building was vacant and available for sale. A local Islamic society purchased the building to provide a worship place for its members.

A downtown storefront in the center of town with a map of Minnesota in the window that also features the shape of Africa does exist. Again, why is this so scandalous?

Second, the true story is this logo is symbolic of the old and new homes of African immigrants of our city.

This storefront in the center of town actually is home to a successful economic development agency based in Minneapolis, with a branch in Willmar. The business logo of this African Development Center is a drawing of Minnesota made to look like a jigsaw puzzle with one of the pieces in the shape of Africa.

It’s symbolic of the immigrants’ old and new homes — Minnesota and Africa.

The story claims that the Muslims are failing to assimilate in the schools and into the culture of the community. Well, the Muslims immigrants here in WIllmar are pursuing life, liberty and happiness.

Many have found jobs, others have started businesses, most are practicing their religion of their choice and many are raising their families.

How much more American can you be?

Related: Racist truck-driver threatening people in Minneapolis (City Pages)