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Minnesota think tank VP suspended over anti-Somali quote in the New York Times

Kim Crockett seems to believe Somalis are a decided step down from the Norwegian immigrants of yore.

Kim Crockett seems to believe Somalis are a decided step down from the Norwegian immigrants of yore. David Joles, Star Tribune

Kim Crockett, vice president of Center of the American Experiment, told the New York Times she had big plans to sue Minnesota. The Times was doing a feature on St. Cloud. Or more specifically, somce of its residents who believe their city -- and white people everywhere -- are threatened by the influx of Somali immigrants.

Crockett said she wanted to challenge the state’s refugee resettlement program, and time was of the essence.

“I think of America, the great assimilator, as a rubber band, but with this – we’re at the breaking point,” she told the paper. “These aren’t people coming from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible.”

That quote became the headline – the first thing readers saw when they read the piece. And plenty of people reacted strongly, with exclamations of “WTF-ing F???” and calls for center to remove her. Her comments were called “bigoted,” “Islamophobic,” and likely to have begun with the phrase “I’m not a racist, but…”

On Friday, the Center tweeted out a missive from Crockett apologizing to “many Minnesotans, particularly in the Somali community,” who were “understandably upset” by the quote.

“To be clear, my remarks do not reflect the values or views of the Center of the American Experiment, or my own,” she said. “I regret the embarrassment to my colleagues who work so diligently to make our state a better place to live and work for all Minnesotans.”

She swore to “rebuild” the relationships and trust she’d “damaged.”

If she does, it won’t be until after a 30-day disciplinary suspension. The Center is putting her on ice, unpaid. On Thursday, it issued a statement disowning Crockett’s words as “against” its “views and values.”

“Center of the American Experiment welcomes all those who immigrate to Minnesota legally, including Somali refugees,” it began. “…We envision a Minnesota where everyone is free to reap the rewards of their own efforts and build meaningful lives for their families.

Some commenters still aren’t satisfied. A few Twitter users called this a mere “30-day, unpaid vacation” and called for something more severe.

“Thanks for your comment disavowing the racist comment to the NYT,” one tweeted. “But Kim Crockett is not just your ‘employee.’ She’s your VP and general counsel. Fire her.”

The Center has been around since 1990, founded by Reagan education department appointee Mitch Pearlstein and fattened by corporations and wealthy conservative donors. It’s run by John Hinderaker, who also contributes to the conservative blog Power Line, and has written entries entitled “The Bad Economics of Reparations,” “Does [Ilhan] Omar Need an English Lesson?” and “Will the Crazy Left Re-elect Trump?”

In other words, the center has been dabbling in these kinds of ideas for years. The only difference now is that those ideas are being revealed on a national stage.