Tuesday, January 1, 2008


An estimated 700 to 1,000 Somali refugees are living in Emporia, a magnet for the refugees because of jobs at the Tyson Foods meatpacking plant. (Thad Allton/KHI)

Somalians respond poorly to local hospitality
Brian Mosely, Saturday, December 29, 2007

(Times-Gazette, Shelbyville, Tennessee ~ Tuesday, January 1, 2008)

Over the past few years, this community has given a helping hand and opened their arms to the new arrivals from Somalia.

In return, many of these refugees have given Shelbyville the finger.

When I began researching this story about the Somalis, I knew it would be controversial. We were aware that many in Shelbyville were having serious concerns about hundreds of Sunni Muslims moving here.

But as I began to talk with officials and others about our new neighbors, I was stunned by the reaction. Practically every person I spoke with locally said they had done everything possible to help out the refugees in adjusting to their new home and were treated very badly in return.

On the other hand, some I contacted for background on this story seemed to be so blinded by political correctness that they would excuse any behavior, no matter how upsetting or disruptive, as "part of their culture."

Did anyone involved in integrating these folks into American society stop to think that many in the heartland of America might not share this overly optimistic and myopic view of cultural diversity?

Unfortunately, the feelings and views of the communities the Somalis move to are almost never taken into account. Indeed, they are expected to simply keep their mouths shut and accept the newcomers without question. Those who protest are labeled racists by the various groups involved in resettling the refugees.

But many of the problems do not seem to have a basis in skin color. According to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2003, when the Somali Bantu first arrived, "many cannot read or write even in their native language. Only in the last few months have most seen telephones, flush toilets and clocks ..."


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