By Amy Jacobson, executive director, Prairie Action ND
It seems like every society has a Janne Myrdal (state senator from Edinburg, N.D.).
Salem, Massachusetts, had several in 1692. They were there, pointing their fingers at others when the court asked who the witches in the room were.
Janne was in Washington, D.C., at Senator Joseph McCarthy’s side in 1953 when he used the Red Scare to turn neighbor against neighbor and ruin the lives of thousands of Americans.
North Dakota has had its share of Janne Myrdals as well. Unforgiving religious extremists like Margaret Sitte, Bette Grande, Dan Ruby and others have left their mark in the state legislature over the past several decades.
Not surprisingly, none of them went to Bismarck to do what their constituents wanted or to make North Dakota a better place for all. They went to Bismarck to make everyone else think, act and believe exactly as they do. We’ve seen it time and again with their regressive approach to women’s rights, academic freedom, equality and many other issues.
Janne’s vision – and the vision of those like her – is to create a state where they make all the rules. What religions are acceptable. What should be taught in our schools. What sex education curriculum may be used (if any at all). What science to allow, and what science to deny.
North Dakota’s Janne, like the many who came before her, carries out her bigotry and intolerance in the name of religion. Yet her views are not based on anything “Christian.” Christ taught acceptance, compassion, and to be cautious when judging others. Instead, Janna Myrdal is mean-spirited and only too happy to not only judge but lay out the penalties for those she doesn’t like. She is, in short, a bully.
Yes, we have always had Jannes in our midst. 2000 years ago, it was Janne who picked up the first stone to throw at a woman accused of adultery that the Pharisees had asked a man to judge.
We now know what Janne Myrdal is all about. Will we recognize the next one?
Jacobson is based in Fargo.