COMMUNITY VOICES | Somali American story muddled by Power Line blog

I was browsing around Google News Search when I stumbled on a unique news piece by the Star Tribune talking about a Somali American woman in Willmar, Minnesota, regarding the reunification with her husband who is in Kenya: the news piece is entitled Somali Woman Living in Willmar Can’t Get Her Husband into US .  This piece by Star Tribune was reacted to by Power Line (blog) with a meretricious piece entitled The Somali Muddle, Once More Once, written by Scott Johnson, tagged immigration, Islam, Minnesota, in which the story by the Star Tribune of the Somali American Woman was distorted. In the piece, Scott Johnson wrote  the following:

Today’s Star Tribune features a formulaic story by Randy Furst from the usual heart-tugging angle: “Somali woman living in Willmar can’t get her husband into U.S.” Deep into the story a small dose of reality is permitted to intrude:

Then Scott Johnson copied and pasted from the Star Tribune piece the following:

A State Department spokeswoman said that “most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview, but the timing can vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.”

She said that Somalis are treated the same as applicants from other countries, and more than 1,000 visas were issued to Somalis in the 2013 federal ­fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30.

“At the same time, we must ensure that applicants do not pose a security risk to the United States and otherwise are eligible for a visa” she said in an e-mail. “Applicants sometimes require additional screening to determine whether they are eligible.”

Federal authorities have been concerned about possible links between Somali immigrants to the United States and Al-Shabab, a group that has recruited young Somali men to fight in the Somali civil war. The State Department has designated Al-Shabab as a terrorist group and alleged that it has links to Al-Qaida.

Scott Johnson continued to write the following:

Coincidentally, the Los Angeles Times has a brief article bearing on this aspect of the problem. Richard Serrano reports “Americans radicalized by al Qaeda are a big concern” — they’re a big concern not at the Star Tribune, or in the offices of Amy Klobuchar or Al Franken or Keith Ellison, but over at the FBI. Serrano reports:

Although it is irrelevant to the Somali American Woman story, Scott Johnson fabricated a connection, and copied and pasted from the above piece by Los Angeles Times the following:

Federal law enforcement officials say they have been tracing other U.S. residents traveling abroad, specifically Somali Americans from Minnesota who have gone to fight in that country. They are also watching several individuals identified soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, such as half a dozen men from the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna, N.Y., who trained at an Al Qaeda facility in Afghanistan.

Comey says these suspects are always the most difficult to identify and stop. He suggests it is all the more challenging today because Al Qaeda has been “metastasizing” into splinter groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Although the FBI previously had “great success” against Al Qaeda in the group’s traditional Afghanistan-Pakistan region, he said, “in the ungoverned or poorly governed spaces in Africa and around the Middle East, we see a resurgence of Al Qaeda affiliates.

Then Scott Johnson kept writing the following:

I’ve written several times about Minnesota’s large and growing Somali population. I repeat myself a lot on the subject and am repeating myself here.

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States. We know amazingly little about the them, probably because we are afraid to ask the relevant questions. We know they are mostly Muslim — we can see the hijabs, we are familiar with the many local controversies to which their faith has given rise over the past 10 years — but are they loyal residents or citizens of the United States? In the conflict between the United States and the Islamist forces with which we are contending, whose side are they on?

Before I talk about how Scott Johnson distorted the story of the Somali American woman, let us closely look at what Scott wrote above: his words seem to full of stereotype with generalizations: he implies, since in his views, the Somali population  in Minnesota is large and growing, there should be a genuine fear that every non-Somali in Minnesota should have, and I suspect his views (this is a free country) are fueled by “guilty by Association”. If I throw here a bit of analogy: it is like saying Hitler was a German, so somehow we, the non-Germans should fear because Germans should be conspiring secretly to colonize the rest of the world: or it is like saying, Bin Laden was an Arab and Muslim, so we, non-Arabs and non-Muslims, should fear because somehow Arabs or Muslims should be collectively conspiring to hurt non-Arabs or non-Muslims: or it is like saying, before they were freed in this country, Blanks were mistreated by Whites, so, all Whites should be bad people.

Scott Johnson wrote that we know:

. they are mostly Muslim

. we see their hijabs

. we are familiar with their faith controversies.

I would ask Scott what he means by the pronoun, “we?”.

But I believe he means it by “Americans” or “We, Americans.”

Then the question arises, who are Americans or who could be an American?

Let me answer the question: a Christian could be American, a Muslim could be American, a Somali could be American, a Mexican  could be American, a White could be American, a Black could be American, an Asian could be American and so on and so forth. So, I am confused with what Scott means by “we.”

Scott Johnson claims that he often writes about “Minnesota’s large and growing Somali population,” suggesting that he is some kind of an expert on Minnesotan Somalis, while short-sightedly revealing that there is little known about Somalis in Minnesota.

For the Somali American woman story, Scott Johnson seems to have lost between  two news stories by Startribute and Los Angeles Times. Instead of coming up with independent personal views, Scott Johnson weirdly and selectively pasted from the two news stories while omitting from the part of the Star Tribune piece, a part that was more relevant to the Somali American Woman’s case, which was:


Awnur came to Minnesota in 2005 with her mother, three brothers and one sister. Two sisters were killed in the civil war.

                         

She works as a meat cutter on the production line of a Jennie-O Turkey Store processing plant, and sends her husband money to help pay his $200-a-month rent in Nairobi. She became a U.S. citizen in 2011.

                         

In 2008, she said, she flew to Kenya and married Hassan Noor, 31, whom she’d met in Kenya in 2002. She returned to Minnesota and applied for a visa for him in January 2009. Her application was approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in March 2010.

                         

But that was only the ­beginning. Noor was interviewed at the Nairobi embassy in November 2011, and since then has repeatedly been told to return with more documentation. Each time he is told it is not enough, she said.

                         

“Every time they ask him for proof. He gives it to them … He doesn’t understand why they keep asking for more.”

                         

Hassan retained attorney Abdulahi and refiled her visa application for Noor in June 2012. She flew to Kenya where she and her husband were interviewed at the embassy last May. Officials asked for proof of her income and asked him to bring a report from the Kenya police, proving he’d committed no crimes in Kenya.

                         

After they provided that information they were asked for more documents.

                         

“I told them I was sick and had spent a lot of time and money bringing my husband over and even after that they still said no.” She said she gave the embassy pictures of their wedding and a marriage certificate. “They said it wasn’t enough proof of his identity.”

                         

On Dec. 27, the embassy called Hassan to say his medical examination had expired and he had to have another one, she said. “After he passed that examination, they said he still needed more identification.”

                         

The exam cost $500, fingerprinting and police reports cost $300.

                         

Awnur said her husband “is very confused about what’s happening.”

I believe, as an American, the American government is wise enough and will not let in anyone who will harm this great country, and the American government does not need anybody to tell it how to do its job. But for the Somali American Woman, if she and  her husband are  innocent, and they meet the visa requirements, she does not care about Al Qaeda or this and that: if she feels she was discriminated in this case, she is free to talk under the Freedom of Speech of this country. Period.

Scott Johnson claims there is a fight between United States and so-called Islamist forces. What does Scott Johnson means by “Islamic forces.” I do not understand: it is pure generalization.

Finally, Scott Johnson questions the loyalty of Somali Americans towards the United States: let me answer: I am Somali American. I got a 3-year old daughter and a 2-year old son who were born in the United States. I love this country and I don’t think I got less loyalty or I am less American than any other American. And I know Somali Americans love this great country. So, look, Scott, if you want to know more about Minnesotan Somalis, please come to Minnesota and ask us (Somali Americans) about what we are all about, instead of liking one news article more than the other as if red apples are better than green apples….by the way, in this country, you have the right to form your own views no matter how weird they sound.



POINT(114.177987 22.321702)
  • I've heard other people talk about how "secretive" or "isolated" the Minnesota Somali community is. The thing is, when you get down to it, the folks who are saying that are usually middle class or upper class whites who live in their own little isolated world as well. There are quite a lot of other Minnesotans who have gone to school with, worked along side of, worked out with, done business with Somali Americans. To us they are not secretive or isolated. They are a newer immigrant community, still very much living mostly in the margins of public life. That will change. - by Colin Dunn on Tue, 01/21/2014 - 12:54pm
  • Racism poses a greater danger than "terrorism" ever has. It's time to recognize that the problem lies with those who fear, not those we are afraid of. - by Brian G Pevensie on Tue, 01/21/2014 - 11:02am
  • It never ceases to amaze me how forgetful Americans are when it comes to our history. We look at the Somali community as a threat, but my own Irish ancestors were by far a larger threat to the peace of our society: riots, strikes, voter fraud, organized crime, you name it, the Irish had a hand in it. (My other side was German, Mr. Said, and yes, there was a suspicion of Nazi sympathizing.) I do believe there are people of every culture who come to this country and find themselves looking backward, feeling like they don't belong. And there are some of every culture who try to change things, to make things more like back "home." And a very small number get angry at being made to feel like an outsider and lash out. But maybe it would be helpful to remember the incredible sacrifice it took to get here, to settle here, to fit into a place where a strange language is spoken and even the rules of courtesy seem hard to comprehend. Then maybe people would understand that love of this country doesn't grow from entitlement, but from realization. Achievement. Ownership. Like my ancestors, the Somalis made the journey, and it is our responsibility, no, our honor to acknowledge our fellow Americans. - by Michele Olson on Wed, 01/22/2014 - 4:37pm
  • Cut and paste? At Power Line? Who could imagine such a thing? I'm shocked. - by Bart Vanzetti on Sat, 01/25/2014 - 9:28am

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Ahmed Said's picture
Ahmed Said