Longtime Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger was ganged up on Saturday by Perry’s representative in the Iowa Senate, Jake Chapman (R-Adel), and a pro-GOP blogger, Jake Hall, after Marburger compared Chapman and the GOP’s voter-fraud scare tactics to Nazi rhetoric.
Now if there is one thing that socially and politically conservative people hate to be called, it is “racist.” And if there is another thing they hate to be called, it is “fascist” or “Nazi.” So when Marburger said Chapman was “scaring people so that they will believe their vote doesn’t count,” and he added that such fear mongering “sounds a lot like out of the Nazi playbook,” Chapman promptly asked, “Did you seriously imply I’m a Nazi?”
“If that is how (you) identify yourself, I guess that is on you,” Marburger replied. “No, what I implied was the same rhetoric the GOP is spewing happened in Germany under the Nazi political party.”
Descending to particulars, Marburger observed that a bipartisan commission concluded voter fraud occurred at a mere 0.004% rate in the last election. In other words, voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, a fake problem, but Chapman is deliberately fostering fraud anxieties, which to Marburger is just “another GOP scare tactic, like the stock market will crash and the border will be overrun if Democrats (are) elected.”
What prompted Marburger’s comments was a Facebook post Thursday by Chapman that linked to an Associated Press story about the Trump administration’s success in persuading a Linn County District Court Judge to order a temporary injunction against Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who was sending out pre-populated — that is, already partly filled in — absentee ballot request (ABR) forms to all registered voters in the county.
According to Chapman’s Facebook post, Miller “flagrantly thumbed his nose at the law” when he sent out pre-populated ABR forms, and he showed “blatant disregard of the law in an attempt to tip the scales in favor of Democrats.”
This seems to imply that Miller was himself facilitating voter fraud. Chapman was asked on his Facebook post, “In what way did Miller’s actions ‘tip the scales in favor of Democrats’? Was he sending the pre-populated ballot requests only to registered Democrats?”
Chapman did not reply.
Miller announced in July that he would be sending out the pre-populated ABR forms to all registered voters in the county. Linn County has about 155,000 registered voters, including some 60,000 Democrats and 40,000 Republicans.
About one-third of the forms had already been mailed when Judge Ian K. Thornhill intervened Aug. 27, issuing the temporary injunction and also ordering Miller to contact those 50,000 voters in writing to inform them that the pre-populated forms should not have been sent and cannot be processed.
The injunction was a big win for the Trump administration and Chapman’s efforts to keep Iowa’s elections fraud free.
“Not one vote should ever be erased because of fraud,” Chapman told Marburger. “Literally one vote can make all the difference.”
All democracy-loving Iowans share Chapman’s yearning for election perfection. As last February’s Iowa Caucuses demonstrated, however, we do not always grasp perfection but only reach something a little short of that ideal Iowa standard.
Speaking of Iowa standards, blogger Jacob Hall summarized Marburger’s exchange with Chapman in a Saturday blog post, claiming that “Chapman took the high road” in the face of Marburger’s Nazi jab and adding that the “Perry School Board declined to comment” on Hall’s tale told out of school.
Hall said he “reached out to Marburger to ask if a student cheated on just 0.004 percent of all questions on tests through a school year, if that would be acceptable.” All honest Iowans can appreciate Hall’s demand for perfect test-taking purity.
The original dialogue between Marburger and Chapman was removed from Chapman’s Facebook page sometime after it appeared Thursday, but at one point in the dialogue Chapman told Marburger, “Perhaps you should check with my opponent where he stands on voter ID.”
Chapman’s Democratic opponent in November’s general election for Iowa Senate District 10 is Warren Varley of Stuart, a lawyer and Century Farmer.
“We should not be making voting more difficult,” Varley said. “Obviously, we need to identify who is voting so no one votes twice or in the wrong jurisdiction, but that should be done in a way that does not discourage voting.”
Varley said he has “been following elections for as long as I can remember, and I do not recall voter fraud ever being an issue.”
On Saturday Chapman again posted to Facebook, this time with a link to Hall’s blog. “I will always defend the right to free speech!” Chapman proclaimed, and in the next breath he said he found Marburger’s comments “repugnant” and that he “would certainly have serious concerns if my children were attending this school.”
Chapman’s zealous Facebook followers have a lot more practice cheering for the Second Amendment than for the First. Don Silcott, for instance, who identified himself on Facebook as “a former Iowa reporter,” urged that Marburger be fired for holding opinions differing from Silcott’s.
“I’d always supported the First Amendment,” he said, “along with requisite responsibilities and consequences for those who abuse the right and act irresponsibly. I support the rights of parents and friends to force an inquiry through peaceful means and removal of the principal through the due processes they have, if that’s their collective decision.”
Chapman responded warmly to Silcott’s suggestion for Marburger’s removal.
“Free speech is not immunity from repercussions,” Chapman said. “If I lived in Perry, as a father I certainly would be having conversations with other concerned parents about the next appropriate steps!”
Silcott warmed in turn to his subject: “This appears to be a prima facie case of defamation, unfair and inaccurate historical comparisons and the unethical as well as illegal interjection of politically partisan mind-bending expression of the most vile nature. Get rid of that ass hole. And make sure he leaves Perry without any kind of lucrative separation package.”
As you can see, conservative cancel culture is a thing. Does someone hold opinions that you do not like because they differ from your opinions? Then have him arrested and made to drink hemlock lest he further corrupt the youth. If that legal sanction is unavailable, then exercise the social sanction and try to have him fired from his job and expelled from any and all positions of honor.
So much for the American virtue of tolerance toward diverse and differing opinions. Though few, Marburger’s defenders spoke up on Chapman’s Facebook page. Stephanie Garrett of Des Moines, for instance, was grateful for the 25-year principal’s frankness.
“Thank you, Dan Marburger, for standing up and speaking out for what you truly believe in,” Garrett said. “This country needs more people like you to get out and vote. Based on most of the comments here, it’s pretty easy to see who has the upper hand when it comes to any intellect and class.”
Garrett’s comment brought her in turn in the cross hairs of Chapman’s followers. Steve Shively took the first shot at Garrett: “So you support violence against any who don’t agree with you, mob rule, riots and looting, making heroes out of pedophiles, rapers and domestic abuser not to mention drug addict criminals and a socialist way of life? I have a (huge) concern for your intellect and class along with your mental health.”
The subject was voter fraud in case you have forgotten. Some voters might remember Matt Schultz, who preceded Paul Pate as Iowa’s Secretary of State. Schultz, a young Republican, spent some $250,000 of taxpayer money in his two-year crusade against voter fraud, and he produced a grand total of six convictions, mostly of Iowans with felony records who mistakenly believed their voter rights had been restored, and so they voted.