(Un)happy Fourth of July!...In The New American Heartland

"A Call to Jihad, Answered in America" was the headline on the front-page news story, printed above the fold in the New York Times for 12 July, 2009.

The story, by Andrea Elliott, was about four young Somalis who arrived in the United States as refugees when small children and were enthusiastically transplanted to Minneapolis by the state and local authorities. Later, all four attended the University of Minnesota to train for professional careers.

Then, in 2008, one of the four, Mahmoud Hassan, an engineering student, had a bright idea. "Why are we sitting around in America, doing nothing for our people?" he asked his friends. Several months later, Hassan and two other students left Minnesota for Somalia where they joined up with the Shabaab, a violent Islamist group allied with Al Qaeda in the attempt to overturn the imperiled Somalian government.

The NYT story continued,

"The students are among more than 20 young Americans who are the focus of what may be the most significant domestic terrorism investigation since September 11. One of the men, Shirwa Ahmed, blew himself up in Somalia in October, becoming the first known American suicide bomber. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert M. Mueller, has said Mr. Ahmed was 'radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota.'"

The reporter added that Ahmed's story reveals the presence of a widespread jihadist movement in "America's heartland" that is attempting to recruit other young Americans to holy war, and mentioned the FBI's concern that the jihadists might use their training and U.S. passports to stage attacks in the United States.

Two days before the Times printed the piece, VDARE.com had posted an article by Joe Guzzardi—Al Franken On Immigration: The Bad and The Good (Yes, I Said "Good"]—noting that Minnesota is 88 percent white, and only four percent Hispanic.

By coincidence, I spent the weekend of July 3-5 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, attending a family wedding. I trust Guzzardi's demographic data regarding Minnesota. But no one could possibly guess, from a visit to the Twin Cities, that the state is 88 percent white.

The day after the wedding, I took a taxi to the Como Park Zoo in St. Paul to visit the zoo's four African lions. Como Park, which was founded more than 100 years ago, is a pretty little zoo with a relatively small collection of well-kept animals and a beautifully designed and unusually spacious Large Cat Exhibit. As for the human population, it must have been, on the day of my visit, 95 percent nonwhite, including some Hispanics, a large number of blacks, native and otherwise, and a huge majority of Asians, principally Thais, Vietnamese, and Hmong.

I remained with the lions for a couple of hours, surrounded by visitors most of whom spoke a language other than English. How the zoo staff copes with the multiple language barrier I cannot imagine. My guess is they don't bother to try. Spanish-language classes for docents, which many American zoos offer, would be ludicrously insufficient here.

My wife and I were driven into the city from the airport at one o'clock in the morning by a Somali cabby, and around town by mainly local blacks. These drivers were, without exception, friendly and polite. St. Paul's business district, where our hotel was located, abounds with foreign faces, languages, and restaurants. We ate lunch the first day at an excellent Thai restaurant, operated by Thais, who like all Thais I have met were soft-spoken and gracious. The place looked prosperous, and the waitress—probably one of the owners—mentioned that the restaurant is a luncheon favorite of employees of the big financial companies housed in the proximate high-rise towers.

We did not spy any suspicious-looking Al Qaeda types about, though we could easily have overlooked them among the pressing crowd at Como Zoo, which offers free admission.

Still, as a contributor to the Star Tribune Sun put it, "It's a long way from your grandmother's Twin Cities."

That is simultaneously a boast and a cry of exultation, not a lament.

A two-page spread in the paper's Fourth of July edition was explicit: The new Minneapolis-St. Paul is a carefully engineered and sustained project, lovingly conceived and executed by the state legislature, the respective municipal authorities, social agencies including Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities, and the multicultural enthusiasts, among whom I suspect the University of Minnesota and other "educational" institutions.

The aforementioned Fourth of July feature, titled "Summer Journalism Workshop," was a collection of columns by aspiring journalists from among the area's high schools. Here are samples of their work:

"I grew up in a great city called Minneapolis," said Mayor R.T. Rybak, "but it was not as great as it is today, in large part because we were too isolated in this big world."

….St Paul has the largest urban Hmong concentration in the world. Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the United States, most of it in Minneapolis. More than 80 languages are spoken in the Twin Cities area.

….How does this cultural change affect our lives? You may attend a performance of tradtional Hmong music. Your kid's best friend may be a Somali or Liberian. You may get your weekly groceries at an Asian grocery store. At a restaurant, your server may be Latino. Your neighborhood may have people from five continents. [Diversity brings changes, chances, by Nathan Palm, Osseo Senior High School]

* * *

Latinos are expected to be 25 percent of the state's projected population of 6.45 million by 2035, according to the state's demographic Center.

….Traditional Latin celebrations such as Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday celebrating the dead, and the annual Cinco de Mayo parade have become part of the Twin Cities' cultural fabric. [Latinos widen their Twin Cities' influence, by Ady Perez, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School]

* * *

Abdusalem Adam, a Somali community specialist in Minnesota, says that St. Paul has taken steps to integrate the Somali immigrant population into the school system. "In recognizing the head scarf, the food, they are careful…the ability to pray when the time comes….It is the reason why so many Somalis come to this state," Adam explains. [The foremost assignment at school: Learn the language, by Matthew Aguilar, Patrick Henry [!!] High School]

* * *

"Every time I get on the light rail, people are always looking at me funny…," said Fahad Hashi, 23, from Minneapolis. "My brother has a full beard and when he walks around people think he's going to do something bad. I'm always hearing people talking about how they think Muslims are going to blow stuff up. They always seem to be putting out degrading comments about Muslims." [On many fronts, life has changed for young Somalis, by Zawadi Mbele]

* * *

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has done a lot to reach out to immigrants who like to fish and hunt. But some immigrants still find state rules and regulations confusing. State officials have translated the rules and regulations into various languages, hired Hmong officers and stocked lakes with ample numbers of white bass, a popular catch among Hmong fishermen. …Many immigrants don't have fishing licenses, and often misunderstand the rules of the catch, DNR officials say. ….Trespassing, littering, and fishing in large groups are also problems among immigrants…. …Many immigrants come from countries where there aren't fishing and hunting seasons or game limits…. …In Cambodian culture, dumping fish on the ground [as DNR officers had done in checking a bucket of fish] is disrespectful and makes the fish unfit to eat…. …"The cops need to learn the culture," [Dymanh] Choun {a 21-year-old immigrant] said. …The DNR also is training its officers to better understand a range of cultures. [Mixing fishing rules and cultures, by Matthew Trammel, Holy Angels High School]

* * * [Hmong, old and young, worry that culture is dying out, by Mariah Davis, Arlington High School.]

But does anyone in Minneapolis-St. Paul worry that American culture is dying out in their city and state? Or that their children have become the brainwashed zombie shock troops for the advancing armies of Political Correctness?

Maybe this problem carries with itself the seeds of its own solution. A 7/7-style jihadist suicide bomb added to next year's Fourth of July fireworks celebration would concentrate Minnesotans' minds wonderfully.

Don't think it couldn't happen.

Chilton Williamson Jr. [email him] is an editor and columnist for Chronicles Magazine, where he writes The Hundredth Meridian column about life in the Rocky Mountain West. You can buy his books Mexico Way, Immigration and the American Future, The Hundredth Meridian and The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works That Impact Today's Conservative Thinkers on line.