An article in Dec. 17 New York Times described the commentary at a recent Forest City basketball game. “They’re all foreigners…go back to where they came from” from Mr. Harris and “I feel like that, too”, from Ms. Kusserow-Smidt. Really? My grandparents are those foreigners. They emigrated to Tyler, Minnesota, where they farmed for 40 years. They became American citizens and loved our country. But they were certainly foreigners, albeit since they were from Denmark and their last name was Kromann, their name would perhaps have been easier for Mr. Harris to pronounce.
My mom grew up in Tyler and was an elementary school teacher before earning a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in elementary education. She spent 35 years on the faculty at Washington State University. She trained thousands to be school teachers, some of which may even teach in Iowa today. But if Mr. Harris and Ms. Kusserow-Smidt had their way, none of that would have happened, because my grandparents would have been sent back to where they came from. And for a split second, if the thought crosses your mind that Mr. Harris’s comments don’t apply to my grandparents because they were Danish, then that makes you a bigot and a racist, plain and simple. And I can’t imagine anything more un-American than being a bigot and racist.
If you think that this incident is a black eye for the hard working, decent people of Forest City and of the state of Iowa, you’re right. Mr. Harris and Ms. Kusserow-Smidt should be ashamed of themselves, as should anyone who holds those sentiments in this great nation. I hope the good people of Iowa will rise above the attitudes and beliefs and work to promote the ideals the truly reflect our country.
Kael Kelly, Newcastle, Wash.