Slate’s Will Oremus spent an extensive amount of time with Columbus, Ohio’s Somali invader community while working on his master’s thesis a few years ago. It was an eye-opening experience. Among his many enriching discoveries, he discovered that the people of Ohio are responsible for last week’s carnage because they aren’t giving them nearly enough programs, money, hugs, and birthday party invitations.
He declares that “It’s Wrong to Blame Somali-Americans for the Ohio State Attack.” He would rather blame the victims. As a Hoosier, I’m fond of reflexively blaming Buckeyes for things, but this a bit much.
When I grew up in Columbus in the 1980s and 1990s, the city’s Somali-born population was negligible. The influx of refugees began in the early 2000s, when Somalia spiraled into chaos following a failed U.S. intervention and an Ethiopian incursion. When I returned in 2010, its population had boomed past 20,000. Estimates now put it closer to 38,000, if not more.
The Somali community in Columbus is, by American standards, quite poor and socially isolated. Muslim, black, and culturally foreign, it’s hard to imagine a group of people more likely to be marginalized in a Midwestern U.S. city. Add to that the language barriers and personal traumas that many Somali refugees face, and you have what seems like the perfect recipe for poverty, alienation, and ultimately, radicalization. No one who understands the situation can be shocked that a few Somali Americans have turned to violence, or that this violence has taken a form that resembles Islamic terrorism.
What’s surprising, if anything, is just how rare these outbursts have been.
Oremus is surprised by how infrequently Somali refugees attack American citizens. How frequently do Somalis refugees attack American citizens, again?
To be clear, Artan’s Facebook posts are scary, and his act was brutal. There’s no excusing it. And he is not the first Somali refugee in the United States to wish or inflict violence on innocent neighbors. In recent years, a handful of Somali refugees in Columbus, Minneapolis, and other cities have been linked with similar attacks, including a 22-year-old man of Somali descent who stabbed eight people in a Minnesota mall in September. ISIS claimed responsibility in that case, as well. There have also been multiple reports by the FBI of foiled plots involving Somali Americans in recent years, although it’s unclear in many cases to what extent the plots were serious to begin with. And a handful of young Somali Americans have either traveled or allegedly planned to travel to Somalia or Syria to join terrorist or insurgent groups.
We still don’t know exactly what motivated the Ohio State student who wounded 11 people with his car and a knife on Monday, before a campus police officer shot and killed him. We know that the student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was a Somali refugee, and that he felt Muslims were subject to unfair scrutiny in his community, and in the United States in general. We know that he posted a rant on Facebook just minutes before the attack, saying he was “willing to kill a billion infidels in retribution for a single DISABLED Muslim.”
We also know that ISIS claimed credit for the attack on Tuesday, but that doesn’t tell us much.
Even when an immigrant or minority personally hands the mainstream media a signed and notarized form confirming their sinister motives, they just can’t seem to figure it out. In contrast, they have profound mind-reading powers when it’s White people. For example, Heimbach got in a confrontation with a large and diverse group of anti-Trump protesters a few months back after they stormed into the event and knocked several people over in their rush through the crowd. The media knew right away, without having to ask, that Heimbach’s interaction with one who happened to be Black was driven exclusively by red hot white supremacist hatred.
To blame Somalis and ISIS for acts of violence like Artan’s, and to respond with a crackdown on the group as a whole, may strike some as an understandable reaction. But in fact, it is a misdiagnosis of the problem—and a deeply misguided solution. That’s not only because it’s unfair to blame the group for the sins of a tiny number of individuals. It’s also because it’s counterproductive and misses the point.
Oremus doesn’t hesitate to broadly dismiss Midwesterners as a class for supposedly being unwelcoming and rude. Apparently, he hesitates to impugn Somalis as a class because to do so is counterproductive (e.g. they’ll flip out and gut you like a fish). And his advice for us to invite even more of them here?
No doubt Somalia is a troubled country, scarred by religious violence.
Note the white supremacist agency denial here. When the Midwest has trouble, it’s because Midwesterners are jerks who need to knock it off. When Somalis are violent, it’s because the geographical territory somehow curses its helpless inhabitants. For the neocolonial neoliberal, the cue ball is always white and all the other colors on the table can only react to it. Artan may have been at the steering wheel running over hapless college students, but it was our own White bigotry that drove him to do it.
“Abdul Razak Ali Artan had 11 victims, and that is a tragedy,” Farah said. “I would hate for all refugees in America to also become his victims, and Donald Trump’s victims.”
Sure, Somalians are running around butchering random college students, but it’s because the students aren’t anti-racist enough. Besides, the real tragedy would be if they got stuffed onto a plane and shipped back where they belong.
The way to solve them is to help create the conditions for Somali refugees and their children to thrive, so that fewer of them even consider the option that Artan chose. That’s not an easy fix, either. But at least we’d all be in it together.
We don’t want to be in it together, Will. We want out!
If we Midwesterners are so racist and violence-triggering, then why must the refugee racket keep victimizing these poor Somalians by moving them here? Wouldn’t they feel more at home on the tropical and diverse island of Puerto Rico, perhaps? Portland and San Francisco are well-known for their support for multiculturalism. Why not deliver the cultural enrichment to those who most strongly desire to be enriched? I bet people here for sanctuary would feel especially at home in …a sanctuary city!
Somalis can’t help being Somalis. Somalis are an admirable people, but I would rather admire them from a safe distance, thanks. They can’t be blamed for wishing to come here. In the big picture, the problem isn’t Somalis. The problem isn’t Islam. The problem isn’t ISIS. The problem is Will Oremus. This delusional asshole and his cohorts who control our refugee, immigration, and housing policies are determined to try to force every single culture in the world upon our suburbs and small towns, and they’re willing to sacrifice as many of our lives as necessary to actualize their bizarre globalist social engineering fantasy.