Montana Politics

Email Trash on the Refugee Debate

I got this note from a local, politically active friend:

All three Missoula County Commissioners told me that they are getting scary hate emails because of their willingness to accept Syrian refugees. I suppose that the Mayor and City Council members may have got them also.

Is this true? I asked members of the council and the mayor to confirm. Here’s one councilor:

I have been receiving threatening emails and phone calls for over a month to the point where I no longer answer my telephone from unknown numbers. I did save one gem of a voice mail with a lot of C words.

My home address was published on a hate website and a meme with my address was shared around the internet.

Here’s an email the mayor and council members received:

F**K YOU!  You want to bring enemy combatants into MY state?!!  F**k you treasonous c**ks**kers!

What a great way to elevate the debate. A call to the county also verified my friend’s tip. The commissioners have received some equally cruel emails. A sampling:

They have children in litters and will strain our resources- not to mention change our communities and culture! This is our country and I will fight to keep these people out. You were not elected to allow this to happen. If you allow it, I will do everything in my power to get you thrown out of your job.


The moment one girl gets raped because you brought in these people you should be held accountable along with the person who did the crime … I, for one, do not want them here.

(So as not to exacerbate the hate, I won’t identify the friend who brought this to my attention; or the councilmen or women, or commissioners, who responded to my queries.)

What sparked this nastiness was a simple letter of support that was written by the commissioners and members of council for a refugee advocacy group. The Missoula Independent has details on the letter. The group, called Soft Landing, is trying to open a resettlement agency here with the goal of relocating up to 100 refugees a year in the Missoula area.

While supportive, Mayor Engen said at The State of The Community forum that he doesn’t believe Missoula is a likely landing spot for many of them simply based on geography.

“I’d be surprised if it were 100 a year,” he told the Indy, “but if it were, I think we can handle a richer tapestry here.”

An anti-refugee rally at the Missoula County Courthouse last week fanned the flames, as the Missoulian reports. For example, one comment on the refugees from a rally participant, “They rape, kill, destroy.”

There is an upside to this story. While the mayor’s office confirms some nasty emails and acrimony at council meetings, response to refugee resettlement in the Missoula Valley has been overwhelmingly supportive. As one councilor put it:

To be clear, the feedback I have gotten is about 40 to 1 in favor of refugees. It’s just that opponents are so angry and aggressive that they feel bigger and louder than they actually are.

I’m guessing the 40:1 ratio might be a little high and I know the county emails are a much closer ratio, for and against. Your elected officials appreciate your support on the refugee debate. Tell them to keep up the good work.


If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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    • Yes they are but I should add that most of the really nasty emails and comments, that I saw anyway, came from outside the Missoula area.

  • Jesus. No, really, just Jesus. Am I the ONLY lefty out there that gets it? We don’t WANT/NEED any more people ferrchrissakes! And especially THESE people! Look, WE didn’t break it! It was sWeed’s people! Let them send these so called refugees to sWeed’s ranch down in Billings, and the bush ranch down in texASS. But WE didn’t break it! The Pube party is the guilty party here. Let them take all these “refugees”. But keep Missoula Missoula, wild, weird, and WONDERFUL! Sometimes I don’t understand my inbred lefty pals. Too much latte and fern inhalation in STEAD of black coffee and REAL work! Must be nice to be in a position to f*ck things UP for everyone else! What the hell, are they really closet Pubbies???

    At some point, limpo lefty libbies need to actually LISTEN to America!

    • I enjoyed the musical interlude on the other post and I think you have some good points here as well. What the hell is going on? We’ve got record numbers of middle-aged men in this state killing themselves now, the biggest reason given is that they feel like a burden to those around them.

      We can’t take care of people that were born here and that are struggling. Why are we ready to take on a bunch that will be struggling along with ’em, but can’t speak the language?

      This must benefit someone. Are we getting more federal transfer payments from the government? Are nonprofits going to somehow funnel more money into the Missoula economy?

      Maybe I don’t get it, but this seems like a way to go about harming an economy, not helping it. Currently, Missoula needs a lot of help.

  • I must be doing something right if Larry and Greg are against this post on the resettlement of a tiny portion of the families escaping untold misery. We’re talking less than 100 people a year, if any actually settle here at all. And you guys have already determined that they will be a burden to the system, adding no value to our community.

    I’ll bet you would have railed against the Hmong when, after an earlier disastrous war, they were forced to relocate, many to Missoula. They’ve been a blessing to this city.

    You boys sent in your hate emails to the council and commissioners yet? Joined the ranks of the out-of-state cretins fomenting this fear? Going to vote for Trump?

    • Ah yes. Pete, a real historian! But do tell, Pete, do you REALLY see a whole lot of similarities between the Hmong people and the Syrians? How so? Seems to me that the Hmong fought a long protracted war on OUR side! They deserved to get out of the area, another area where we didn’t belong. But at least they earned that right.

      And yes, the Syrians WILL be a burden to an already overburdened system. But hey, you take the first ten or so and pay their way. Teach’em English, get them health care, and give them a job and a place to live! Then, I’ll kinda start to believe you. But for God’s sake don’t ask the REST of us out here who are barely getting by to support your liberal feel good fantasy! We can’t afford your fantasies any longer! They were great back in the sixties!

      And these guys coming are more like the Mariel boat lift folk instead of the Hmong people. Read about that some time before you go all history major on us. Read about the Marielitos!

      • So, Larry, Assad emptied out the Syrian jails and put the criminals on boats to America? Good analogy.

        And no, Syrian refugees did not, for the most part, fight along side us like the Hmong. I didn’t realize that was the criteria for being accepted into the U.S. The Syrian refugees happen to be innocent civilians trapped in a horrific conflict — similar to the refugees we have accpted for years: from Serbia and Herzegovina, Vietnam, Myanmar …

        Besides being the humanitarian thing to do, America had a significant hand in destabilizing the Middle East and aggravating the violence in Syria. We have some responsibility toward these refugees.

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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