I was out of town for most of this past weekend, so when I returned late Sunday night, I was faced with a flood of comments and e-mails regarding the Somali series.
To say it has provoked a response would be a serious understatement. I've had a chance to review most of it and I thank many of you for your comments and support.
However, some of you should be truly ashamed of the things you posted. You know what I'm talking about. Obviously, we still have some bigoted idiots in this area and your comments only helps advance the stereotype that the south have tried to shake for decades now.
Also mixed in with the comments and criticism were several messages from refugee advocates and Somalis themselves [all from out of town, some in other countries] who want to help me "understand" our new neighbors. One of them said that the Somalis "are some of the friendliest, most inviting people I know."
Now they want to talk to us. This is months after the failed efforts of this paper and local officials to get members of the Shelbyville Somali community to sit down with us and communicate. We repeatedly offered the chance to get their story told to the public and we never got an answer. Not even a "no, thank you." Just silence.
Well, I will do a follow up with their input now that this issue is fully out in the open, but it will have to wait until next year.
One series of comments I simply must take issue with is from "loblert," who apparently believes I possess the ability to induce mass psychosis upon an unsuspecting public.
It appears that Mr. Mosley has succeeded in whipping every biggot in town into a frenzy of hate and anger. Since he gave the location of their mosque and homes, if these are burned by his KKK disciples, it will be his doing and any resulting blood will be on his hands as sure as if he had done it himself. And all of this because he feels these people are impolite???
I do not feel these people are impolite, this is the overwhelming opinion of nearly every single person I have spoken to while working on this story, even from those who have gone out of their way to help these poor folks.
Indeed, when we published the first part of this series, which only focused on how they got here, the comments against the Somalis were already in full swing. And this was the part that some claimed "mollycoddled" the refugees. The only part I would consider "negative" was the final section dealing with their interactions with law enforcement and other communities. Others rushed to my defense, but loblert would have none of it.
What part of what I said was wrong? You admit to being racists. You admit to feeling hate and anger toward the Somalis. You thank Mosely for whipping you into a frenzy. You say something needs to be done about the Somalis. I think we agree on every point except that I think such hatred is un-Christian and immoral. I think Mr. Mosely is using you in hopes of producing a violent outcome without getting his own hands dirty.
Riiiiiight. I'm a sinister puppetmaster and manipulator styled after Joseph Goebbels. Loblert must see me as the old Fantastic Four villain Psycho-man, who would bedevil the heroes with his apparatus that induced Hate, Fear and Doubt. Now, you filthy, uneducated vermin, go! Go and do my bidding! Fly! Fly, my pretties!
To all who have posted: What is the worst experience that you have personally had with a Somali. Don't hold back. We know Mr. Mosely's hatred was cemented when had to endure overhearing some sassy comments at the DMV. Have you too been scarred by such horrible trauma at the hands of a Somali? Perhaps one cut you off in traffic? Do share.
"Hatred was cemented?" Excuse me, but what are you smoking? It must be high grade to cause this drastic leap in logic.
Well loblert, I have had experience with refugees before and it was a whole lot different that what locals have been encountering over the last few years in Shelbyville.
Back in the 1980's, my family hosted part of an Ethiopian clan for several weeks until our church could secure housing for them. They lived in my home, ate with us, etc.
I found them to be some of the most gracious, friendly and polite folks I have ever met. Many Americans could learn a lot from them. I'll never forget the joy in the eight year olds eyes as he ran around our property for the first time. The rolling hills, fields and woods of Tennessee must have seemed like paradise to him.
And these poor people had just arrived in our country from near stone age conditions. The first morning they were with us, I used the remote to switch on the TV and the father nearly jumped out of his chair. They had never even seen a television set.
But they adapted to America and modern life quickly. They weren't rude to their hosts, they were extremely grateful. They didn't insist on everyone else adapting to their culture or faith based requirements. They became Americans.
But that apparently isn't happening in this case in Shelbyville.
Loblert, I can not help how people might react to what I report. In fact a great deal of information that we published came from the very organizations that were placing these folks here and getting them set up in their new lives. Holly Johnson of Catholic Charities was invaluable in helping me understand a lot of these issues. All I did was explain to Bedford County these facts and the various controversies surrounding their introduction to Shelbyville and other towns across the country.
The hostile feelings posted on our website about the Somalis already existed throughout our community. They did not materialize out of thin air just because I wrote a series of news stories. I kept my feelings and opinions out of my reporting. To blame me for what others may think is ridiculous.