What The New York Times Didn't Tell You About Nashville's Kurdish Gangs—And The Patriotic Backlash

When Nashville, Tennessee, is mentioned, most people immediately think of the quintessentially heartland America community that is home to the Grand Old Opry and a lot of excellent country music.

But Patsy Cline would be surprised to see the changes that have overtaken her musical home. Nashville has experienced a rapid influx of Hispanics and others: now, around one in eight is foreign-born.

With that has come the usual social churning, increased crime and culture collision that are the normal byproduct of sudden demographic change created by unwise immigration policy.

In fact, immigration-driven diversity speeds along so fast that it can be hard to keep up. The New York Times—ever the promoter of liberal one-worldism—noted a bump in the road to perfect kumbaya with the recent advent in Nashville of the nation's apparently first Kurdish street gang. There are 8,000 Kurds in Nashville, we learn, and some are criminally inclined.

Naturally, the NYT coverage was warmly accepting and multicultural—as far as was possible with a criminal gang accused of murder, rape, drug dealing and burglary. (Which is quite possible, it turns out.)

"'I think they're really confused,' said Rebaz Qaradaghi, [Send him mail] a 22-year-old regional director of the national Kurdish American Youth Organization who lives here. 'They really think that they're helping, but they're actually messing it up bad.'

"Police view Kurdish Pride as being as serious a problem as older, more established gangs, [Nashville police detective Mark] Anderson said. But there is a difference: 'Kurdish Pride are not the kind of kids that normally join gangs.'" [In Nashville, a Street Gang Emerges in a Kurdish Enclave by Theo Emery New York Times July 15, 2007]

Those darn kids!

Back in Tennessee, local reporting was more serious.

One sensible point made in the local coverage: the Kurds had to develop a strong martial attitude to survive the rough neighborhood of the Middle East as a nation without a state. Those who immigrated to America brought that cultural trait with them. Young Nashville Kurds facing challenges on the playground didn't seek out conflict-resolution counseling at school, they formed a group of like-minded peers. In other words, a gang.

"When the children of those immigrants were picked on in school, Salam and others like him have explained, they didn't go to their teachers or fight back individually, they banded together. Strength in numbers was how their parents survived against the Iraqi Army's attempt to eliminate them. [Kurdish gang's violent roots traced back to violent homeland , by Jared Allan, Nashville City Paper, July 5, 2007]

But understanding why certain immigrant groups are predisposed to form gangs is not the same as excusing it—much less justifying their presence in the U.S. in the first place.

From a psychological viewpoint, any immigration creates the perfect matrix for gangs. Social relocation is extremely stressful for families. It divides the young generation from the older ones. Immigrant parents are often busy with establishing a home, learning the language and getting an employment foothold. They have less time for actively raising the kids. Negative American pop culture often fills the gap.

Young immigrants and children of immigrants are neither fish nor fowl, not entirely of either society. I have pointed out that they seem notably prone to killing sprees—"Immigrant Mass Murder Syndrome". They are also very prone to joining gangs because only there do they find kindred spirits with similar experiences.

As is too often the case now, when there is far too much immigration for the proper sort of assimilation to occur, many young immigrants combine the worst of their culture with the worst of ours. Kurdish gangsters are a tough bunch to begin with and they have appropriated the US hip-hop style of crime, with gangsta outfits, identifying hand signs and really bad spelling as displayed on the Myspace.com websites they create (YO DIS DAT MIDDLE EAST GANGSTA, etc.).

There is a lot of youthful posturing mixed in, to be sure. But make no mistake: Some of these characters are genuinely bad criminals, like the four members of the Kurdish Pride Gang (KPG) who are in jail for the attempted murder of a Metro Parks officer in Edwin Warner Park last August.

And need it be mentioned that these men are Muslims? A desire to quit crime might easily mean a switch from gangstering to jihadist pursuits. Some already profess an admiration for Osama bin Laden. A turn for the worse in the beloved homeland of Kurdistan following America's messy withdrawal from Iraq could politicize Kurdish Pride and their friends in a violent way.

Nashville city council candidate Jim Boyd has put local immigration enforcement at the top of his campaign agenda after seeing the rapid changes in his community. He was particularly shocked by the pro-amnesty rally in spring 2006 where he saw many non-US flags and heard foreigners chanting "Down with America."

Boyd described to me how the Kurds were welcomed in the first place: "The reason we have Kurdish gangs is because of our Southern hospitality. We didn't know what kind of people we were getting."

That description sounded a lot like Roy Beck's 1994 ground-breaking article, The Ordeal of Immigration in Wausau,  in which overly kind church people got carried away with their generosity and ended up welcoming a passel of Hmong and trouble on the community for years to come.

The Kurdish gang problem is just the latest episode in a crescendo of shocking immigrant and illegal alien crime stories over the last couple years in Nashville. Unlike the MSM, which continues to sympathize with illegal aliens, VDARE.com has covered the crimes with emphasis on the victims and their families.


  • Sean and Donna Wilson died in a crash caused by a drunk-driving illegal alien with a lengthy rap sheet. The tragic deaths caused community outrage because Gustavo Reyes Garcia was absolutely someone who should have been deported, considering that he had been arrested 14 times and had six DUIs. Garcia was sentenced in April to 25 years in prison. He used to opportunity of his court appearance to blame the deaths on weak law enforcement.

  • Charlie Derrington was also killed in a traffic crash with a previously arrested drunk-driving illegal alien. Charlie was well-known among mandolin fans for his love of the instrument and expertise in their construction in his work at the Gibson Guitar Corporation of Nashville.

An exacerbating problem for increasing illegal immigration to Nashville was the easy availability of Tennessee driver's licenses to any and all comers for years. In 2004 the state law was amended (not without legal objections from the usual suspects at LULAC, etc.). But by then a bad crowd had already been attracted.

The good news in Nashville: increased foreigner crime over the last few years has caused outraged citizens and victim family members like Heather Steffek to insist upon better law enforcement. As a result, the city has implemented 287(g), a little-used provision in federal law which facilitates determining the immigration status of arrested foreign-born persons. In a recent two-month period (4/16-6/18), 605 of 802 arrested foreigners were found to be illegal and were placed in removal proceeding.

That sounds like a good start.

It's a scandal that many deaths and much pain were required for Nashville law enforcement to do its job regarding foreign lawbreakers.

But it could be the beginning of a larger turnaround on law and sovereignty for the city and beyond.

Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She occasionally enjoys enchiladas but lately has been rekindling her fondness for good old American-style meatloaf with ketchup.