I was a bit amazed about recent criticism directed at David Melson for a column where he was pointing out some of the habits of immigrants in our community that may not be acceptable to most Americans.
Namely coming into America illegally in vast numbers, behaving like you're still in a third world country and treating women like dogs, among other things.
The last time we directed attention to the heavy drinking habits by persons of a certain ethnic background, David and I were both accused of being racists. All I did was talk about the mess that's left behind at one location [and that's still going on every weekend] not to mention the dangers irresponsible drinking poses to the rest of the public.
That's not racist: It's calling attention to something that could becomes a deadly problem down the road.
Letting folks know that we likely have a lot of people in the area who are not supposed to be here in the first place isn't an attack on someone's culture, it's stating the painfully obvious.
Many call for sympathy for these people, with familiar arguments like they are hard workers and they are just trying to support their families.
The same could be said about many of our ancestors but the difference is that they came here legally. They assimilated and learned the language. They were proud of their heritage, but raised the Stars and Stripes in their homes and businesses, not the colors of their homeland.
Today, the people that come here in droves from across our southern border appear to have no desire nor intention to become Americans but simply wish to reap the benefits of living here instead. Things like free medical care, welfare and other social services are going to people that are sending half of the money they make back to Mexico.
The main thing I believe many are mostly offended by is the fact that everyone knows that many of the Latinos in the area are here illegally and nothing is done about it at all. It tends to give people the impression that those who were born and raised here have to tow the line and not violate the law while those who are here illegally get a free pass and walk.
This bubbling resentment is likely to cause problems for our community down the pike.
Calling attention to these issues make some people uncomfortable. Being a good neighbor and welcoming newcomers is a noble idea, but it should be tempered with common sense and not blindly adhere to a notion that everyone's culture is equal and should be accepted as such.
Our new Somalian friends come from a world that many of us would find totally alien and I doubt many here would be tolerant of those who would try to import it to our region. Recently, a radical Islamic group patterned after the Tailban seized control of their country, which has been without any sort of organized government for the past 15 years and that fact weighs heavily on many people's minds.
In fact, the last image of a Somalian many Americans saw were of the wonderful types that shot down our helicopters, killed our troops, carry around AK-47's while high on khat and scream "Death to America." Not a good first impression to make.
Most of us would find it inconceivable to treat women like Muslims from this part of the world do and yet, I myself witnessed such an episode recently in the parking lot of a local store. You couldn't understand a word, but the tone of the voices were unmistakable. I feared that a beating for the young woman was likely to follow the public verbal abuse I saw.
As for the haggling and bartering, I haven't seen this myself, but I feel that the new arrivals would do well to learn that such things are not accepted here. In fact, there are many cultural traditions from some parts of the world which would be flat out illegal, such as arranged marriages and female circumcision, and others here which are perfectly normal to us, but highly offensive to them.
For example, did you know that the classic American "thumbs up" hand gesture is considered obscene by Somalians. I didn't, but there begs the question: Should we stop using it just because a newcomer is offended by it?
Do we stop serving pork in public schools because one segment of the population has a religious taboo against it? What about dress codes? Will there be one rule for new arrivals and another for the rest of our kids?
How about prayer in schools? We don't allow it these days, but it is a five-times-a-day requirement for Muslims. Do we create special rules for them and others for the rest of us to follow? What about Islamic holidays?
If people from other parts of the world wish to come here and start a new life, that's great. But do it legally. Part of becoming an American means learning our culture and traditions and if new arrivals want special treatment for themselves and want to continue practices that many here find offensive or even primitive, don't be surprised when that kind of culture is looked down upon.