Abolishing New England: In Lewiston, Maine, They Had a Dream, Too…

The blessings of diversity have descended upon the
small city of

Lewiston, Maine
, a decaying mill town of some 35,000
folks, who were mainly white until a couple of years
ago. Now, with the addition of nearly 2,000 Somalis,
Lewiston has begun to catch up with what`s been
happening in the

rest of the country

Western Europe
, and

, and

New Zealand
, for that matter. Like most of the
people in those places, those in Lewiston don`t much
care for it.

The main citizen of Lewiston who didn`t care for the
invasion of his city by Somalis, who at once jumped onto
to local welfare rolls and may be inciting ethnic
violence, was the mayor, a gentleman named

Laurier T. Raymond

Mr. Raymond took such a dislike to the presence of
Somalis that he wrote an

open letter
to their leaders asking them to
discourage others from coming. That was the subject of a
front-page story in the Washington Post this
week. [“In Maine Town, Sudden Diversity And
Controversy | Somali Influx Irks Mayor”
By Michael

October 13, 2002

"Please pass the word," the mayor begged his new
Somali constituents to tell their fellows. "We have been
overwhelmed … our city is maxed out financially,
physically, and emotionally."

The Somalis, for their part, didn`t much care for the
mayor`s letter, and they at once responded by

him for his "bigotry." The Post,
eager to ferret out what it called "xenophobia" in
Lewiston, succeeded in finding some.

But even the Post had to acknowledge that the
Somalis have been just a bit of a strain. "Welfare rolls
and rents have gone up," it reported, "and school
officials are scrambling to provide health checkups …
and language instruction, though the majority of Somali
children speak excellent English." (Then why do they

language instruction

But why Lewiston, of all places? Because the Somalis
deliberately selected it. Located mainly in

, Somali immigrants really didn`t like the
City Too Busy to Hate
—because, among other reasons,
local blacks harassed their children at school—and so
they sent out search teams to look for a

better place to settle
. They found it in Lewiston,
where welfare payments were even higher than in

. "The young men tell us, `This is a dream
place,`" said one Somali elder. "They see the
unemployment rate is low. There is housing and close
family values like Somalia."

Well, no, Lewiston`s family values are

not quite
like those of Somalia, and the Somalis
know it. That`s why Somalis in Somalia now planning to
enrich America even further by immigrating here are
carrying out female circumcisions there before they
leave. They know it wouldn`t be tolerated here (or so
they think; little do they know how rapidly Americans
adjust to cultural diversity). The British Broadcasting
Corporation reports that

"in recent months, dozens
of Somali parents, preparing to move to the US, have
been rushing to subject their daughters to this
agonizing ritual, knowing it is illegal in America."

But aside from the minor point of the backward family
values and intolerant laws they will encounter when they
land on our teeming shores, the Somalis are probably
correct that Lewiston and small towns like it in other
states are about as close as American towns ever come to
being "dream places." There`s a reason for that.

Lewiston is a "dream place" not because nature or God
or a "proposition" made it that way. It is that way
because the people who live there made it that way—the

, middle-class and

working people

worked for it, paid for it, built it, lived in it
and in not a few cases probably

died for it
. The Somalis, in their snotty letter to
the mayor replying to his letter to them, informed him
that "we are citizens and/or legal residents of this
country" and "therefore we believe we have every right

live anywhere in this country

So they do (how many would you like moving to your
town?), but they need to understand, as the people and
mayor of Lewiston have already begun to understand, that
by doing so the virtues that attracted them to Lewiston
will probably not survive.

"Dream places," in this country or anywhere else, do
not just happen. They are the products of a particular
culture, people and heritage, and

the culture, people and heritage that
created them with others will only eradicate them more
quickly. The Somalis, having already assimilated a bit
to the American way, are

the U.S. Justice Department to send

investigators to Lewiston
to make sure they haven`t
been victims of discrimination on the part of the "xenophobes"
and "bigots"
who now run the city and who would like to see the dream
Lewiston offers survive a little longer. Between the
Somalis and the

federal government
, you probably shouldn`t bet that
it will.


October 17, 2002