Given my status as a Minnesotan, it’s impossible to let this story pass unremarked. When CBS’ John Dickerson grilled Democratic presidential candidates on national security and policy related to ISIS, a local Democratic candidate for the state legislature decided to enlighten his fellow Minnesotans on the nature of the terrorist quasi-state. Dan Kimmel explained that “ISIS isn’t necessarily evil” — they’re just community organizers with a violence problem:
Kimmel’s tweet definitely had an impact on his political ambitions. It’s just not the one he imagined. The Star Tribune reported yesterday that Kimmel withdrew “to remove the ick” from Minnesota Democrats:
A Burnsville DFLer’s campaign for the state House abruptly ended Sunday morning within hours of him posting on social media that ISIS “isn’t necessarily evil” and is “made up of people doing what they think is best for their community.”
The Twitter posting Saturday by Dan Kimmel, coming as the world’s emotions remain raw from Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, brought swift rebuke from others on Twitter. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, called for Kimmel to give up his campaign.
“I’m folding up the campaign tent,” Kimmel told the Star Tribune. He later issued a written apology and called his tweet “stupid,” adding that it’s probably best for him to “shut up” for the time being.
Kimmel said in the interview that the posting “was not interpreted as I intended. It was so badly misinterpreted.” He added that he was dropping out of the race “to remove the ick” from his party.
The Strib notes that the 2016 election was going to be a rematch for Kimmel against the current Republican incumbent, 22-year-old Drew Christensen. Last year, Kimmel lost by 12 points, but Minnesota Democrats (known as the DFL here) might have hoped that the turnout in a presidential year might give Kimmel a better chance in 2016. Instead, they couldn’t distance themselves fast enough from the candidate they endorsed a year ago. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen demanded Kimmel’s withdrawal from the 2016 election, and Kimmel complied.
Kimmel called the tweet “stupid,” but also said it was being misinterpreted. His follow-up tweet perhaps raises more questions about Kimmel’s intent. “I deplore the evil acts of ISIS,” Kimmel tweeted from his now-deleted account. “I do not defend their acts.” That certainly makes it sound as though people did interpret Kimmel’s meaning correctly — that judging ISIS to be an evil organization was wrong, and that their “acts” do not reflect their overall orientation. It’s not “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” but it sounds a lot like moral relativism and a call to disregard genocides committed by certain organizers of radical Islamist “communities.”
Kimmel now wants to retire quietly from public life, at least for a while, and Minnesotans should allow him to do so in peace after this blows over. But it’s certainly worth noting just how far off the rails the DFL went with Kimmel, and how they evaluate their endorsements in areas where Republicans usually dominate.