If you're a regular reader of this paper or keep up with the local news, you've probably heard about Clackamas County Commissioner Mark Shull's egregious Facebook postings. If you haven't, here's the rundown:
On Jan. 11, Clackamas County resident Cris Waller exposed Shull's racist, transphobic, anti-Islam, and anti-immigrant views on a blog titled "Documenting Mark Shull's Racism." The blog features screenshots and quotes from Shull's postings on his personal Facebook page (Shull's account has since been wiped).
His remarks on Islam include: "The most menacing threat to U.S. National Security is the inclusion of Islam into our society...it is time for a new D-Day, one that is appropriate for the threat," and "There are only two ways Islam gives us to deal with it. Isolation in the lands of Islam or extermination outside the lands of Islam. The third option is Islam exterminates us."
Shull also expressed hateful views toward transgender people, saying, "If a mentally-ill dude pretends to be a woman, you are required to pretend with him."
Shull also claimed the Black Lives Matter organization is "a pawn for the rise of neo-Marxism." He spread numerous false conspiracy theories about Muslim Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. One screenshot showed that Shull's post had been flagged by Facebook for containing false information, and Shull even confirmed he had received a warning from the platform.
These quotations represent just a fraction of the hateful, racist and undemocratic views espoused by Shull.
I write this column to call for Shull's immediate resignation. Shull has neglected his duty to represent the interests and beliefs of his constituents. I believe that Commissioner Shull's public bigotry does not represent the majority of Clackamas County residents. It also fails to represent the type of accepting, egalitarian community we strive for.
Rather than promoting a more equitable society, Shull's postings advocate for both Christian and white supremacy. These fundamentally false beliefs do not belong in government. Moreover, they harm members of his own constituency — people who trust him to protect their rights and enact positive change. Hate should have no place in the offices of our elected officials, because hate doesn't belong in Clackamas County.
Our leaders serve as role models in our communities. They are the people children look up to, the people supposedly deserving enough to speak for tens of thousands of people and make critical decisions. Our citizens, especially young ones, deserve a leader who models love, acceptance,and positivity, not hate and division.
We want to have faith that our representatives will work to serve the interests of the people, not use their platform to tout conspiracy theories and wish harm upon their own constituents. Shull has failed to speak with truth and act with kindness. His hateful beliefs should not be dignified with his current position of county commissioner and as a role model in our communities.
I am a firm believer that people have the capacity to learn to act and work in a positive way. It disheartens me that Shull appears to have no remorse about the repercussions of his actions.
On Jan. 22, Shull doubled down on his bigoted and false beliefs about Islam at a board of commissioners meeting. Defending his posts, Shull incorrectly claimed that "The Muslim leadership believes that national borders are wrong and that open borders should be implemented."
Local Muslim leadership made it clear that Shull's statements were false, according to The Oregonian. Shull also refused to take responsibility in a private work email (made public by The Oregonian), where he blamed the backlash on "cancel culture."
Commissioner Shull, this is not "cancel culture." This is democracy at work. Your constituents have the right to ask their elected leaders for action, including the action of resignation if an official does not represent their interests. Leaving office would be honoring your duty as a public servant.
I believe in silver linings, and I am generally not one to criticize without finding room for hope. I believe that for Shull, resignation can be the first step on a journey toward love, acceptance and positivity. He can learn from his mistakes, take responsibility for his words and work to affect positive change in his community.
Stepping down and taking accountability does not have to be a sign of weakness. It can be an opportunity to learn and grow, to take time to reflect and seek atonement for wrongdoings.
This journey will be long. It takes time to break down the prejudices calcified by centuries of injustice in America. As long as those prejudices remain prominent in Commissioner Shull's words and actions, he is an inadequate representative for our communities. The people of Clackamas County deserve and demand better.
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