A large percentage of people from North Dakota have Norwegian heritage. That has led to frequent cultural exchanges and many student from Norway have come to study at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. One of Grand Forks' many friends in Norway wrote that the things he was reading in the media had him worried about his friends across the Atlantic.
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SARPSBORG, Norway — I am very proud and honored to be an honorary citizen of Grand Forks. Over the years, this recognition has given me lots of pleasure.
But in the past few days, I have had worried phone calls from friends and people in Norway, asking me if the people I know in North Dakota are among those who send hate messages to Democratic officials in Washington and threaten to kill them.
So, people ask me: Is this the U.S. we admire? Are people in North Dakota and Grand Forks among them?
Is this a Christian culture, or have Americans converted to another faith?
Of course, I defend the U.S. as much as I can. But I have no explanation for the news that people will threaten to kill politicians they dislike.
A mother called me just this afternoon and asked me if I thought it was advisable for her to send her son to UND.
Of course I said yes, but even the question worried me.
Opstad is the founder of The American College of Norway in Moss, Norway, a project that he undertook in cooperation with UND.
Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown appointed him an honorary citizen of Grand Forks.
Except for the English and Irish, I doubt there is a group of Europeans that think more highly of us than the Scandinavians. It they are starting to ask these questions about us, it is a sad thing indeed.
We need to be putting these questions to the people who are benefiting from and encouraging the hateful rhetoric in the country. We must ask, as Steiner asks, have they abandoned their self-professed Christianity for some hate-filled cult that glories in the threat of bloodshed. People of good will, of whatever creed, color or heritage, need to stand up for the America that Steinar and the rest of the world admires, and say this rhetoric is unacceptable.