Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Somalia, America, Assumptions, Terrorists and the Press

It's a fact: Somalia is not a shining example of a law-abiding, peaceful, prosperous nation. Somalia has
  • Pirates and Al-Shabaab (or the Shibab, al-Shabab, the Shebab (November 23, 2008) shooting it out from time to time
  • A national government that has occasionally controlled many parts of the capital city
  • An economy that would be better off if pirates and religious crazies weren't fighting each other
Somalia is not a very pleasant place to live.

It's gotten to the point where many Somalis have come to America, looking for a better life. Quite a few came to Minnesota, because there's work here. (December 4, 2008) I'm pretty sure they didn't come to the gopher state for its climate. Somalis in Minnesota have been doing pretty well, as far as I can tell, apart from some oftheir sons dropping out of sight now and again, to reappear in pieces, over in Somalia.

Meanwhile, back in Somalia, "crucial humanitarian aid" is being delayed by America. Whether it's big, bad America or sensibly cautious America depends in part on your preferred reality, and on which papers you read. Here are some of the more reasonable examples:
"The U.S. government is delaying 'tens of millions' of dollars in crucial humanitarian aid over concerns that the money is being diverted to a notorious militant group, a senior U.N. official said...."

"For the first time, the FBI director has stated on the record that the Al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab is no longer content to strike within the East African nation of Somalia...."

"One in five Somali children is wasting away from malnutrition. Tens of thousands need urgent medical care to survive. The whole middle belt of the country is teetering on the brink of famine. United Nations officials say Somalia has not been in such perilous shape since the central government collapsed in 1991 and is in desperate need of help...."
(The New York Times)
People try to break out of some countries, in the world where I live. (June 20, 2009) They try to break into America. Some may be drawn by government handouts. I think many come for the same reason my ancestors did: it's better here, than where they came from.

Quite a few people, of course, don't "break into" America at all. They enter the country legally, find jobs, and go about the business of earning a living and raising a family.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

From "Irish Need Not Apply" to "What is Radicalizing Young Somali Men?"

It's been a long time since some of my ancestors kept seeing "Irish Need Not Apply" signs, and the Chinese Exclusion Act was finally repealed (January 22, 2009)

America hasn't been perfect, and isn't now. Take the FBI, for example. I remember when J. Edgar Hoover inadvertently became a sort of poster child for mandatory retirement, doing the FBI no favors in the process.

Some people in Washington may not have gotten the memo, and don't realize that J. Edgar is no longer with us. Or, maybe they like the idea that the FBI can be counted on to trample rights, bungle investigations, and generally be available when a Congressional Investigation might boost voter confidence. Confidence in the deeply caring congressperson, of course. Not in the oppressive FBI.

That may not have been what a congressman had in mind, when one of his staffers came to Minnesota and asked, 'what is radicalizing young Somali men?' (March 22, 2009) I think it's quite possible that the staffer didn't realize the implications of that question.

Not all young Somali men were "radicalized." Only about 20 have disappeared, presumably drafted by Al Shabaab or a similar group in Somalia.

And not all young Somali men are the same. Somalis, as far as I can tell, are individuals who by and large are members of families, live in a neighborhood, have jobs, raise their children, and worship - or not - as their conscience guides them.

Nobody's going to mistake someone whose ancestors came mostly from Somalia with someone whose ancestors came mostly from Sweden. But they're not a homogeneous mass. They're people. Individuals.

And, it looks like a few of them haven't been behaving themselves at all well, by American standards. American law doesn't approve of the actions like the Oklahoma City bombing - Timothy McVeigh was executed for his roll in that attack. And American law (finally) regards the disappearance of young Somali men as kidnapping - and again, doesn't approve.

Actually, I think America may have, as a country, learned that immigrants aren't intrinsically dangerous. I think it helped that we rather liked our first Irish president - and that by now quite a number of people in responsible positions are the children and grandchildren of 'smelly, shifty, dirty foreigners.'

That's the Good News

Problem is, it's possible that some Somalis in America will try to replicate the 9/11 attack. I doubt that airliners will be used: The TSA has gotten a little crazy about protecting the flying public from flash cards and nipple rings.

I'm not sure that a terrorist leader would try to get a real terrorist through a system with that sort of full-bore paranoia.

On the other hand, Minnesota has targets like the Mall of America - it's not inconceivable that someone would take a shot at blowing that up, or releasing poison gas inside.

I rather hope that if an attack like that is planned, it'll be stopped as effectively as the latest one on New York City apparently was.

If Somalis are involved, which again is not inconceivable, I also hope - sincerely and strongly - that 'real Americans' don't assume that all Somalis are terrorists. I don't think all Somalis are terrorists, any more than I think all Irishmen and -women support the IRA.

Related posts: In the news:

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.