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Somali Diversity-Fest Lobbed into Lewiston
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December 28, 2008, 10:05 PM
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Multiculturalism enthusiasts like to spin the story that today`s tribal refugees are just like Americans` immigrant ancestors who came here over hundreds of years. However, European immigrants didn`t practice Islam like the Somali refugees of today (who now like to use the word "diaspora" to signify that they are not interested in assimilation).

Some Muslim immigrants openly declare their intention of eventually undermining the Constitution and replacing it with Islamic sharia law. In an earlier, sovereign America, such plans would be deemed sedition, and immigrants asserting them would shown the door. Today, not so much.

The community of Lewiston, Maine, has been a cultural battleground because of Somali customs and is now being subjected to a photography propaganda exhibition titled "The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away."

Since the early 1990s, civil violence has forced hundreds of thousands of Somalis out of that African nation. [Photographer Abdi] Roble, who left Somalia in 1989 and now lives in Ohio, has documented the Somali diaspora for five years.

His images trace the refugees` long hard journey from refugee camps in Kenya to such cities as Minneapolis Columbus, Ohio and Portland, Maine. One group of photographs tracks a single family`s journey from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya to California, and their subsequent resettlement in Maine. [...]

In a 2007 Associated Press article, Roble explained the importance of capturing the refugees` experiences while they were happening. "If you have no record, you have no history," he said. "We lost everything. We have no museum, no galleries, no record."

In photographing the refugees, Roble told the AP, he found himself humbled by the stories he witnessed. The images represent "classic American stories of people landing in this country. It`s exactly the same, it just happened in a different time." [Exhibit chronicles Somalis` journey to U.S., Lewiston Sun-Journal, Dec 27, 2008]

The situation and the immigrants are NOT "exactly the same." Europeans did not arrive to find a trough of programs and benefits made available to them, nor did they need instruction to bring them up to speed on basic coping abilities, because the levels of technology and education were similar. Today`s tribal refugees, whose expertise usually lies in primitive farming, need to be taught how to switch on electric lights and operate a modern stove.

The New York Times, ever friendly to extreme diversity, described the culture clash warmly in 2003: U.S. a Place of Miracles for Somali Refugees.

Clean water coursed out of gleaming faucets, an astonishing luxury for a rural family who had spent more than a decade in mud huts without indoor plumbing. "Red for hot," Mr. Yarrow repeated wonderingly as he held his fingers in the steady stream. "Blue for cold."

But the difficulty is not so much the lack of familiarity with modern gizmos; the real differences between the third world and the first are cultural, particularly when the newcomers are Islamic. The social norms of Somali culture include polygamy, wife-beating and female genital mutilation. These are not your grandfather`s immigrants. Not by a long shot.