St. Cloud tries to resist the urge to divide

In its editorial, the St. Cloud Times is stating what shouldn’t have to be stated: the obvious. It’s not a time to turn on each other in the wake of the weekend stabbing attack at a mall in St. Cloud.

But from schoolchildren to retirees, from factory workers to faith leaders, Central Minnesotans must not rush to the patently unfair judgment that their neighbors and fellow residents who have the same roots, who look like him and who worship like, him also will act like him.

After all, did those thoughts initially cross our minds when another young resident opened fire on fellow classmates at Rocori High School in 2003? Or how about just last month when a local man set books ablaze in our local library?

That’s not to downplay the role religion might have played in his motives. Rather, we simply must wait for investigators to piece together why he did what he did.

In the meantime, cool heads and thoughtful responses will help the most. Let’s remain curious and courageous. Let’s come together to show hope can overcome fear, and that unity is a better choice than division. It might not be easy, and it certainly will push people out of their comfort zones. But as a community, that is the choice we need to make.

How is this done? The city’s police chief, William Blair Anderson, showed how yesterday when Fox & Friends tried to bait him into dividing his city.

“I can tell you that the vast majority of all of our citizens, no matter their ethnicity, are fine, hard-working people, and now is not the time for us to be divisive. We already have a very cohesive community, and I expect that this will draw us even closer together. But at the end of the day, our job is public safety, period,” he said.

  • Gary F
    • BJ

      I love that the line AFTER the the click to read more was….

      “There is no evidence Mr. Rahami, whose family fled Afghanistan and sought asylum in the U.S., reportedly in the 1990s, was part of the…”

      They all but said he was in the previous paragraphs.

      • Gary F

        It will take time to investigate this guy.

        The point being made is that we are told to be accommodating and not to panic, while our federal government just gave citizenship status to know people with terrorist links.

        It starts at the top, and we are getting no leadership.

        • BJ

          The link being they are from “so-called “special interest” countries”? Nothing in the ‘story’ actually even says any of them have terrorist links, not even close to that.

          New York State prison system lets out ~50 people convicted of homicide a year.

          • My takeaway is they ran out of money to digitize things. Reminds me that until relatively recently, the nation’s air traffic controllers had a radar system less powerful than a TRS-80.

            Why did they run out of money ? That’s an important question.

          • Mike Worcester

            Kind of like why did they run out of money to test and digitize the countless thousands of rape kits sitting across the country in police storage rooms? :/

          • BJ

            Because smaller government can only happen when the ‘average’ voter isn’t affected by it.

          • X.A. Smith

            And why did they run out of money to fund Public Defenders?

        • Rob

          Are you saying you’re panicked? I’m not. Take a deep breath and remember: The odds of anybody in the U.S. being attached by a terrorist are less than the chances of being struck by lightning.

        • Veronica

          Uhh……No leadership? What do you want to see happen? And no, nobody is given citizenship status with known terror ties. Heck, we won’t even let in the Iraqi translators who helped US Soldiers.

          Come on, is Gary F really just a plant from the RNC?

          • rallysocks

            Again, it’s only leadership if: a)Obama’s NOT the leader and b)it is exactly the leading right wing thought of the moment judges leadership to be.

  • MrE85

    I wish them luck. Chief Anderson’s words are a good start.

  • Mike

    While I’m a staunch civil libertarian, and genuinely don’t care what religious background someone comes from, one has to ponder the wisdom of accepting so many immigrants into this country whose religion and culture is very illiberal in the classic sense. It seems naive not to expect friction when the cultures these people are coming from often simply don’t allow the liberties we take for granted in the West, namely religious diversity, women’s equality, and civil rights for everyone, including minorities that are persecuted in the Muslim world (Jews, gays).

    When you then factor in the legitimate resentment felt by these people at decades of US meddling in the internal affairs of their countries, it can be a toxic combination, as recent events have proven (Orlando, NY, St. Cloud).

    In a saner world, the answer might be less US hegemony in the Middle East and Muslim world in general, which could in turn reduce the flow of refugees. Our government will in no way accommodate the former, so I guess we should get used to the cultural clashes here that sometimes turn violent.

    • Hasidic Judaism would also be considered very illiberal in the classic sense.

      • jon

        Isn’t the US creation myth that it was founded by Puritanical Christians?

        • Well, the Massachusetts Bay Colony certainly was. But that was nearly 150 years before the U.S. was founded.

          Things take time.

    • BJ

      >simply don’t allow the liberties we take for granted in the West, namely religious diversity, women’s equality, and civil rights for everyone, including minorities that are persecuted in the Muslim world (Jews, gays).

      Yes, hurray for ‘Merica

      Except, you know the people like Kim Davis who is still a county clerk.

      And the restaurant in MN

      And women’s soccer players

      And BLM

      • Mike

        Yes, I’m very familiar with Kim Davis and her ilk. The fact that we have plenty of those people already in this country (Christian fundamentalists) is no argument for importing a different variety.

        • Remind me what the American flag, that everyone seems to want football players to respect by standing up, represents again.

        • Veronica

          “Those people”? “A Different Variety”? Yikes. Do you know how awful it is to talk about anyone like that? That literally is the first step in the logic used by leaders before they commit genocide.

          • Mike

            Right – a little sarcasm leads directly to the gas chamber. Your logic is impeccable.

          • Jay T. Berken

            When I was going to college in St. Cloud, I initially was straddling on going into hydrology or elementary education. My first year I had taken a racial awareness in the classroom class for education with Professor Davis. I recently read one of my first papers from that course that really opened my eyes unto the trigger words and thoughts I had of the Hmong population in general with my biases coming from Green Bay, and what my family, friends and community felt of the growing Hmong population in GB. I did write ‘those people’ and ‘the church bring them here’ and ‘the Hmong getting handouts’. As I reflect when writing that paper, I believed at the time I was being racial sensitive and even thinking that it wasn’t about blacks (Prof. Davis is black), so the paper couldn’t racist. Prof. Davis ripped it apart (in an academically and fair way) and rightly so.

            Now when I read that paper, it does make me sick that I did have thoughts and biases to that degree (For better or worse I do still have biases). In the past 10 years I have had close relations and interactions with people from the Hmong population (also Karen and Chin populations) and really do see the beauty and gentleness of their culture and believe that if we can follow some of their ways, especially with beliefs of family, that our society would be a better one. It is way to easy to point at a culture and/or people that are different than ours and blame or dress them down recklessly.

    • BReynolds33

      Our country was built on cultural clashes. You know what happened? The culture changed. It will happen again here, and will happen again and again in the future. It’s who we are (you know, when we quit being so damn afraid of everything).

    • MikeB

      We have plenty of white people who think we have too many current freedoms: freedom of the press, freedom to associate, freedom to peacefully protest, rights to due process. What do we do about them? It is not recent immigrants who will be voting for a candidate who complains about suspects having the right to a lawyer. We have a presidential candidate who is promising to prosecute newspapers that run critical articles about him. And many citizens cheer him on and want him to go farther.

    • Veronica

      From a WaPo article on poor Skittles being used as a prop for hate speech:

      “The libertarian (and Koch brothers-backed) think tank Cato Institute published a report last week assessing the risk posed by refugees. That report stated that, each year, the risk to an American of being killed by a refugee in a terror attack is 1 in 3.64 billion, as Huffington Post’s Elise Foley noted on Twitter. From the report:

      ‘From 1975 through 2015, the annual chance that an American would be murdered in a terrorist attack carried out by a foreign-born terrorist was 1 in 3,609,709. Foreigners on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks, whereas those on other tourist visas killed 1 in 3.9 million a year. The chance that an American would be killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee was 1 in 3.64 billion a year.'”

      So you can have you ideas, but absolutely nothing about this discussion is useful without facts. Facts. I’m sorry it doesn’t fit the narrative of the uninformed, but there ya go.

      • Jay T. Berken

        You have a ratio of 1 in 606 of being killed in an auto accident.

        • Veronica

          Yes, I know. I’m a car seat technician. And even though car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury in kids under the age of 12, I still have to deal with parents who don’t give a darn that their kids’ seats are putting the kids’ lives at risk. The fact is, 90% of seats are installed or used incorrectly, and yet we have to argue over supposed terrorist boogeymen. Car crashes? The real boogeyman. But again, the facts ruin the narrative.

      • Mike

        Your post is all fine and good, but I never argued that death from attacks by refugees was a major source of risk for anyone.

    • Rob

      You seem to be forgetting that our country was founded on slavery, the notion of women as property, and the genocide of native peoples – all with the full faith and backing of the dominant (Christian) religions. If those notions aren’t illiberal, I don’t know what is.

      • Mike

        True, and our country has changed a lot since the 17th and 18th centuries.

        • Rob

          Yes, but your comment suggests that it is only “others” who are illiberal.

          • Mike

            No, actually it doesn’t.

        • Veronica

          Oh! And let’s not forget the Christian sects whose sole driving force is to teach women nothing but complete subservience, keeping them from going to school, promoting child abuse, and even child rape.

          • Mike

            Be careful – your disrespectful tone might be perceived as arguing for genocide against fundamentalist Christians.

          • Veronica

            Can you please just stop? Just go to another corner of the internets or something.

    • X.A. Smith

      “It seems naive not to expect friction when the cultures these people are
      coming from often simply don’t allow the liberties we take for granted
      in the West, namely religious diversity, women’s equality, and civil
      rights for everyone, including minorities that are persecuted in the
      Muslim world (Jews, gays).”

      There has always been friction amongst communities. We can deal with it through outreach and education, or we can deal with it through fear mongering and resentment. We Americans are in control of our own responses.

  • BReynolds33

    I would dismiss the premise that this terrorist worshiped like other Muslims. It has been shown time and again that the extremists do not follow basic tenants of the faith, including their methodology of worship.

    • Mike Worcester

      One of the attacker’s friends described him (and I’ll paraphrase a bit) as about as assimilated as any kid could be, part of that being he was not a regular attendee at one of the local mosques.

      • Interesting definition of what it means to “assimilate” which is also reflected in this quote from a resident in Doualy’s story today:

        “My mother’s a war bride from Paris, and they came here, they assimilated. All the Somalis, they want their people here, and they want their religion, and their laws.”

        They want their religion? Imagine that.

        How many Somali people do you suppose that guy knows?

        • Mike Worcester

          I posted on my FB today the question – what does “assimilate” mean? I honestly think it means what ever people want it to depending on their perspective and life experience.

          • I guess the question then becomes, “who are you to tell others how they must live?”

            It’s clear from the conversation so far that a lot of people think “assimilation” means “lose your religion.”

            There’s not even any sense having a conversation with “those people.”

          • rallysocks

            >>It’s clear from the conversation so far that a lot of people think “assimilation” means “lose your religion.”<<

            And speak and dress American!

            ETA:^^^extreme sarcasm^^^

          • jon

            My family came to the US in the 1800’s (or earlier depending on the branch).

            We still eat traditional dutch foods at christmas time.

            I’ve got a bag of “speculaas” (dutch cookie) at home (they have things like them at trader joes, even with a similar name, but the ones like my grandma used to get can be found at fleet farm)

            Anyone from the netherlands would recognize my last name as dutch, and more than a few of them try to speak to me in dutch when they see it (I speak very little dutch, and the little bit I speak I do very badly.)

            I’ve never been to the netherlands, nor have my parents, my grandparents have been (my grandfather was there during WWII and went back for sight seeing with my grandmother later in life) and my great grandmother left when she was ~3 years old and lived and died in Chicago land.

            So 100+ years and at least 4 generations (more on other branches of the family tree) and I’ve not fully “assimilated” from the old country…

    • Fred, Just Fred

      Well there’s your problem, right there. Islam doesn’t have a controlling authority; even within the various feuding sects. Jihadists claim their mullahs are preaching the pure faith, more moderate Muslims say they have it right; both can point out where the Koran backs their versions and there is no one out there with the final authority to say who is right.

      Personally, I’d defer to the way it is practiced in Muslim theocracies throughout the world since the majority populations put them into power, and continue to support them…not a pretty picture.

      • Rob

        Good points; only the Pope is infallible. Accept no substitutes.

  • MrE85

    This comment from “John,” from a related MPR story from St. Cloud, is somewhat baffling.

    “My name is John, that’s as far as I’m going,” he said. He’s 59, and claims Somalis in central Minnesota are not assimilating.

    “My mother’s a war bride from Paris, and they came here, they assimilated. All the Somalis, they want their people here, and they want their religion, and their laws. They’re getting all the free money they can get, using everything up. I’m tired of it,” he said.

    I wonder if his war bride mom wanted her relatives in France to join her in the USA. I would imagine she didn’t feel obliged to change her religion when she immigrated. As for the laws, they are the same for Somali immigrants as they are for French immigrants or anyone else living or visiting here. And that “free money” he speaks of — what free money is that?

    I wonder how quickly a 59-year-old would “assimilate” into Somali culture if the tables were turned?

  • Nightowl

    What a pleasure to see the chief so articulate in standing up to Fox!!