Consider scenarios as Legislature’s coffers empty

Tom West, West Words

Sometimes, we at the Record have to make difficult decisions regarding what is news and what isn’t. Here’s the latest example:

Last week, a family of Somali Muslims enrolled seven children in the Little Falls schools. We made the decision not to cover the story, figuring that it isn’t news when a family enrolls in the local school.

But to many local residents, it was big news, or at least the primary topic of conversation. Little Falls

Superintendent Steve Jones went on the local radio station in response to field calls from citizens. Hence, this column.

I understand the concern. Fear of Muslims isn’t just in Little Falls. It’s throughout Central Minnesota and beyond.

The reason for the fear is also clear. The news media has been full of stories of Muslim attacks on Western civilian populations.

A Muslim soldier opens fire on fellow GIs at Fort Hood. Two Muslim brothers set off bombs at the Boston Marathon. A Muslim couple massacre co-workers of the husband at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

And will anyone ever forget where they were when they first learned of the 9/11 attacks?

Throw in continuing attacks in Europe and videos of beheadings in the Middle East and the fear is understandable.

It’s made worse in Minnesota because of the reports that about two dozen young Somali men have left the Twin Cities area to fight for ISIS and another 10 have either pled guilty or are facing trial for attempting to do so. It seems clear that someone is recruiting them.

Just this week, it was reported that some of those facing trial allegedly talked about being trained by ISIS so they could come back to the United States and carry out more attacks.

Some liberals like to use the suffix “phobia” as code for “unwarranted fear.” So they refer to all of these developments as “Islamophobia” as if any thinking American should have no concern.

But others are not buying it. All of these events have caused harm to the futures of Muslims, and in Minnesota to Somalis in particular, even though Somalis have been in the state for more than 20 years.

The Central Minnesota Tea Party Patriots have been bringing in speakers on a regular basis who have stoked those fears, connecting the dots, so to speak, to show that socialists, communists and Muslims are all involved in a vast conspiracy to bring down the republic.

I don’t doubt that some people would be happy to destroy this nation. But I also believe that it has always been so.

The country hasn’t fallen yet in spite of suffering through a Civil War and the Great Depression because most Americans still believe that they were extremely lucky to have been born in this great nation. They see the poor souls in Third World hell holes and many Americans still think. “There but for the grace of God go I. Thank you, Lord.”

And that brings me back to one single Somali family moving to Little Falls.

For more than a year, a rumor has been flying around town that up to 1,000 Somalis are moving to Little Falls. This week, the number was 41.

The newspaper has checked repeatedly with city and county authorities, the people who would know, and our conclusion is that it just isn’t true.

We don’t have 1,000 jobs available, and we don’t have 200 vacant apartments. Every apartment that is under construction has reflamed the rumors, even though the newest apartments usually bring the highest rents. It just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know when the first Muslim came to the United States, but I feel comfortable in asserting that it was at least two centuries  ago. And why did Muslims come here? For the same reason the rest of our families did; for the chance to have a better life.

It is simply wrong to assume that because someone is of a different skin color or a different religion moves to our community that they are up to no good. Such reactions are born in ignorance and fear.

Every person who moves here, no matter what their background, needs to be treated based on the content of their character. Do they obey the government’s laws? Do they have a good work ethic? Do they contribute in positive ways to civic life?

Just because some Muslims are making war on western civilization, it doesn’t mean that all or even most Muslims are.

The concern that people feel is understandable, but we have to keep it in perspective.

We should assume that this one family has come here to make a better life for themselves. We need to give them a chance to do so, same as anybody else.

If we don’t, if we greet them with hostility and anger, they will be isolated. But then what? To quote from Proverbs: “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity.”

The fact is, we have sat back and done little while drug dealers have brought meth, heroin and other poisons into our community.

Why get up in arms over one Muslim family? The only thing they have done so far is bring the school more than $30,000 in state aid.

Tom West is the editor and general manager of the Record. Reach him at (320) 616-1932 or by email at tom.west@mcrecord.com.

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