St. Olaf speaker bashes Trump, ‘Islamophobia, Inc.’

A speaker at St. Olaf College in Minnesota insisted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is “targeting” people of color and Muslims.

Doran Schrantz, director of the liberal activist group Isaiah, focused her Oct. 2 talk, titled “Islamophobia, White Nationalism and Politics in Minnesota,” at St. Olaf College on questioning “who is benefiting” from the “white nationalism” she sees as commonplace in modern politics.

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“There is a reworking inside the Department of Homeland Security that is absolutely systematic and is absolutely targeting Muslims and people of color,” Schrantz told students. 

“Who’s an example of somebody whose political interest has been met by feeding Islamophobia and white nationalism?” Schrantz asked. She answered her own question, saying “yes, we can name names.”

When an audience member said “our current president,” Schrantz asked him for evidence, to which the participant responded, “there’s [sic] some videos out there; I don’t have specific quotes.”

“So you’re saying based on some things that he said,” the Isaiah director responded.

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Schrantz, who also runs the “people-centered politics” group Faith in Minnesota, went on to list U.S. Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, who represents the congressional district in which St. Olaf is located, and the Koch brothers as other actors whom she says is “essentially electoralizing [sic] and building power for the benefit of some, a few people, through white supremacist arguments and white nationalist Islamophobia and racism.”

She also impugned law enforcement, saying that “seeing people in power like whether we’re talking about the [Transportation Security Administration] at the airport or police officers doing that [acting racist] systematically gives permission, it starts to create social permission for people to engage in what you’re describing... It’s like it’s OK now. It’s normalized.”

Schrantz dedicated the final portion of her talk to comment on the Minnesota childcare fraud investigation into whether Somali childcare providers submitted claims for millions of dollars government compensation for childcare they never provided. The providers then allegedly sent tens of millions of dollars abroad in cash through the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Schrantz attempted to delegitimize claims of this ever occurring.

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She told the students that the scandal was the result of “a set of legislators at your state capital [who] decided to move a story with KMSP-TV.” In Schrantz’s view, the story was moved to create “a conversation about who’s to blame that incentivizes the kind of feelings that create social permissions that scapegoat certain groups of people in order to animate racism in order to advance a political agenda.”

“This story broke and the day that it broke there was a hearing at the state capital,” she said. “That normally doesn’t happen. You don’t have a story and then immediately a hearing because it takes a little while to organize a hearing at the state capital. So what does that tell you? It was planned!”

Campus Reform spoke with Minnesota State Republican Sen. Jim Abeler, chair of the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee that carried out the hearing months ago.

“The chairman has a prerogative to call a meeting whenever he wants…I can call a hearing tomorrow,” Abeler told Campus Reform. “We’re in the middle of summer, but tomorrow I could say I want a hearing…you could hear about something in the morning and have a hearing at four o’clock. It’s just the call of the chair to decide what we’re going to do.”

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He recalled that he opened the childcare fraud hearing with the goal of determining whether or not the scandal was “smoke or a fog machine.”  

The state senator also dismissed the idea that his hearing was an outgrowth of white nationalism, reminding Campus Reform that he’s been criticized by Jihad Watch for his legislative work with regard to the Somali-American community. 

The St. Olaf Religion Department, which hosted the event with Schrantz, did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleHooten2