The head of the Minnesota Republican Party is demanding an apology from the editor of a Hmong newspaper after a social media post harshly condemned members of his community who are supporting President Donald Trump.
State GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said Hmong Today editor Wameng Moua had disregarded their right to organize and support the Republican Party.
“We will not stand for this language or actions against Republicans who are simply participating in the political process and making their voices heard,” she said in a statement. “Mr. Moua owes an apology to the Republican Party of Minnesota, the Trump campaign, and most importantly, the dozens of men and women who participated in this training.”
Moua’s Facebook post sparked the controversy, saying that “in Nazi Germany, they enlisted Jews to carry out Hitler’s orders … this is our Judenrat committee,” referring to the Jewish councils the Nazis tasked with organizing the selection of victims to go to the death camps. He included a photo of people who attended an Asian Pacific American training hosted by the state GOP and Trump’s campaign.
Moua is not apologizing for the post.
“Look, I may have offended people, and it may have been a stark over-hyperbole … the comparison, though, is correct in my view,” he said.
For years, Republicans have tried to make inroads with immigrant communities that have historically broken in large percentages for Democrats. The debate has new intensity at a time when Trump has cut the number of refugees the U.S. accepts to 18,000 — the lowest number in the program’s history — and the Trump administration is working to deport more than 4,700 Hmong and Lao residents with old deportation orders back to Laos.
The state GOP said the group of 70 also included participants of Chinese, Korean and Japanese descent. The gathering was a Trump Victory Leadership Initiative Training as part of events around the state and country to organize, activate volunteers and re-elect Trump. Among the attendees was Esther Lu, the Trump Victory director of Asian Pacific American engagement.
Hmong Today is a biweekly newspaper based in St. Paul. Moua said the ethnic media outlet is an advocate for the people it writes about, and the Trump administration is against refugees and immigrants.
“I can’t be neutral when you’re attacking my people,” he said.
His Facebook post drew several hundred replies, with Hmong commenters debating immigration politics.
“I don’t think he posted using Hmong Today — he posted as himself, Wameng Moua,” said Lee Pao Xiong, director of the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University, who commented online on Moua’s post. “Just because … he runs a newspaper, he can’t have an opinion?”
The controversy also comes as Hmong Republican Sia Lo challenges longtime U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, in the district including St. Paul where much of the state’s Hmong population resides. McCollum has written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly opposing the Trump administration’s pressuring Laos to sign a repatriation agreement and accept residents with deportation orders.
Longtime Hmong leader Xang Vang, a Trump supporter from St. Paul, disagreed with Moua’s statement. He added that it’s federal policy for the government to deport noncitizens who commit a crime and it isn’t specific to the Hmong and Lao people, or the Trump administration.
“Those Hmong who support Republicans or the Trump administration, they are the same citizens who have the same rights as the people who support the Democrats,” said Vang, former executive director of the Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association.