Political Professor Weighs In On Hagen Controversy

Dr. Von Hagel Discusses Mayor's Muslim Comments

People across the Northland have been making their opinions known in the wake of Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen’s controversial facebook post.

Fox 21 reached out to the academic community to gain a better understanding of the situation, Tuesday. 

Dr. Alisa Von Hagel, Ph.D, is an assistant professor of politcal science at The Unversity of Wisconsin-Superior.

Dr. Von Hagel said that the Mayor is entitled to express his opinions freely, under the first amendment, but the reaction and consequences associated with that expression is part of accepting political office. 

“With social media it does place a certain responsibility on public officials and I think that for the most part, one would assume that they are aware of the ramifications of certain statements,” Dr. Von Hagel said, Tuesday.

“The chances of things spreading or becoming viral is something that I think has changed the political arena.” 

Despite calls to do so from members of the Superior City Council and Community activist groups, Mayor Hagen has not retracted or apologized for his comment referring to President Barrack Obama as a Muslim.

“Now with sort of instantaneous, forms of communication and contact that things of this nature can spread like wildfire,” Dr. Von Hagel said.

“Especially when it contains remarks about a population and an issue that’s been really in the media lately.”

Dr. Von Hagel added, that since the Paris terror attacks the U.S. has seen more violence against Muslims than any other time since 9-11.

Those who are opposed to Mayor Hagen’s stance on the issue and calling for his resignation are invoking the same First Amendment protections that the Mayor is also claiming. 

“Both sides are able to freely express their point of view and so both sides are expressing their point of view in terms of the content of this message,” Dr. Von Hagel said.

“So I think because of the issue, because it’s become part of this polarized political rhetoric that we’ve seen very, very recently that it’s leading to perhaps, extreme behaviors.”

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