Pig headed

July 18, 2006 at 12:08 am (Uncategorized)

The following exchange is a good illustration of the opposing viewpoints over the Somali sitution in Lewiston. One side will insist (usually in hushed tones) that Somali immigrants are exploiting government kindness, sucking up all the welfare benefits and living off the public teat. They refuse to acclimate to American society, laugh at our weaknesses, and cause locals to do cartwheels in a never ending effort to not offend the refugees and their culture. The Somali, this group will tell you, are completely taking advantage of us.

The other side loudly disagrees and they will brand you a racist if you challenge them. Their main argument seems to be a version of this: “The United States, and Lewiston as much as anywhere, was built on the labor of immigrants. The French, the Irish, the Italians came over decades ago and made this country what it is. To unfairly label Somali immigrants as burdens on the state is outright bigotry and sanctimony.”

To which the other side will counter that the French, the Irish and the Italians came to America and worked their asses off. They worked 70 hour weeks in the shoe shops, built roads, fought in our wars. The Somali population, on the other hand, is largely unemployed. They snag welfare benefits, get cars and groceries from the government, and wait for a high profile incident to serve as impetus for their arguments that they are being treated unfairly.

And on and on it goes. The pig head tossed into the Mosque two weeks ago provided people to talk openly about the issue, for better or worse. And the following letter writers represent the grand division in the hearts and minds of those in Lewiston and Auburn.

Frustrated about life in L/A

We were sitting next to a Somali family for the fireworks when one member of that family asked what the fireworks were for. When someone said, “America’s birthday, our independence,” one of the Somali children said, “Screw America.”

The group sitting on the opposite side of us got very upset, and I don’t think this answer is all that uncommon from immigrants reaping the benefits of our labor.

Thankfully, everyone contained their anger. It could have been a very bad scene, but we Americans know that to speak out labels us as racists, which carries heavy penalties from our government.

Sitting on the level of poverty, driving a beat-up car and hoping we have enough food for our kids, while we go to work every day and watch immigrants get benefits, federal checks, and close to free housing, is frustrating at best. Listening to immigrants bash this country is infuriating.

I am not surprised that someone chose to act out, however obnoxious that act was. I don’t condone it, but in a small way, I do understand it.

Go down to any housing project and sit for a while. Watch natives get into their dying cars while Somalis get into almost new minivans and sedans; watch natives bring in two or three bags of food while immigrants bring in cartloads. Then ask yourself why on earth an American riding the line of poverty may be frustrated and, yes, angry, about life in L/A right now. — Ally Wing, Auburn

Jumping to conclusions

Ally Wing’s letter to the editor July 13 was a perfect example of willful ignorance breeding racism.

If anyone believes “speaking out” against immigrants “labels us as racists,” maybe we need to think – why is that racist? Why is hating a racial minority for objecting to the poor treatment they’ve received here because of where they came from racism?

Did anyone ask that Somali child what he or she meant? Do you really think that people who fled their country are completely ungrateful that they were taken in, helped out, and made a part of this country?

Maybe it’s the people in America, not America itself, that the child was frustrated about.

Instead of understanding Brent Matthews, we must try to understand what it’s like being a refugee in a place where people spit on you and swear at you (“Greene woman accused of using racial epithets,” July 12), and even though you pay taxes and work hard, they’re angry you’re getting by.

When someone says “we Americans” are “infuriated” by these immigrants; does anyone think immigrants aren’t Americans? Think too about referring to “natives” – white people are not the natives of this country, and just because whites immigrated before the Somalis doesn’t make them better or any more American.

Our country was built by immigrants, by a diverse group of hard-working people living their dreams and standing up for their beliefs. We must all put ourselves in their shoes before jumping to intolerant conclusions. — Erin Reed, Lewiston

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48 Comments

  1. Dave said,

    Do I really dare comment on this? Nope.

  2. Dave said,

    Alright, my last response was a cop-out. But I really don’t have all the facts, and/or, all that much interaction with the Somalians to really make a viable comment.

    I’ve seen both sides of the issue myself. In my heart, I want the community to welcome the Somalians. On the other hand, the new immigrants need to increase their 50% employment rate and contribute to our society.

  3. Treehugger said,

    Screw the new immigrant thing, they are coming from Georgia! The State of…We are talking 2nd and the way they multiply, 3rd and 4th generation. Maybe the guy is a dimwitted prankster and a racist. But I am so tired of this, wringing of the hands every time one of them stubs a toe!
    I don’t see the politicians holding a hoop-di-do over American beheading by the Muslims, but ALAH forbid that one of them is slighted.
    When talk turns to the Somalians, its not their religion that is brought up. Its the special rights that they have recieved from our leaders since emigrating from war torn Georgia.
    Its the fact that the wive’s and children have moved here to acquire welfare benefits while the husbands work in Georgia. Its the fact their kids can set aside time in school to pray and others can’t.
    Its the fact that they if they need medical treatment or have interaction with the police they need an interperter at $60.00 per hour while other members of our community bring a family member.
    Its the fact that every time they feel slighted, our leaders jump to their aid and the media gives them a huge amount of air time for a non-event.
    Its the fact for the most part, their community does not feel the need to assimilate like the rest of the immigrants that came to our community.
    Have you all forgotten the story published by the Maine Telegram when the “other” tribe, (Bantu) was moving up here from Manchester NH becasue of the affordable housing. The couple had atleast 6 kids with one in the oven.
    Please, the chest beating and tears are wasted on this subject. There is no organized move to defile the Muslim religion and the hand ringing can be saved for a better cause.

  4. jarheaddoc said,

    Well said, TreeHugger, though I am not very educated on the subject. Wasn’t it not all that many years ago that the Orientals were the subject of our ire, because that group of people got the same thing?

  5. "The Weasel" said,

    JarheadDICK….

    “Orientals” are rugs, Asians are people. You’re Welcome

  6. Mainetarr said,

    Snicker***tee hee***orientals***HAHAHAHAHHAHA

  7. Linda said,

    jd, you know how important it is to us that we be politically correct on this blog. Want to try again?

  8. jarheaddoc said,

    Weasel: at the risk of having a battle of wits with a truly unarmed entity such as yourself, the term is proper in the context of the blog.

  9. Treehugger said,

    Hey Jarhead,
    The asians didn’t come in here with their hands out and demanding time off to pray to Buddah.
    The Asians weren’t enticed here by Tara Kaleigh with the promises of free diapers by The Sisters of Charity. The Asians are self sufficent and give back to the community. Having to interact with other , non English speaking people in the area, they provide a family member who can interpert for them. They don’t have the scam of a $60 per/hr interperter.
    And how the heck is it correct in the context of the blog?

  10. jarheaddoc said,

    Simply because the term was very acceptable at one time, that’s why, and Linda is right in the sense that being politically correct (thought not in the CONTEXT of this blog) is the pervading theme of today’s government. And I agree that there is a very distinct difference between a handout and a hand up

    What you are seeing with this probolem is the government of the United States, at all levels, trying to look like it is sympathetic to Muslims, simply because we are so damn dependent on foreign oil. I don’t have anything against anyone wanting freedom to practice his or her religion, but they have to adapt, and obviously the Somalis have: play the oppression card and Uncle Sugar opens the wallet of every taxpayer it can.

    There is a story in the Bible about Jesus feeding the masses, with the point being that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. The Somalis have obviously learned how to fish and play the game.

  11. LaFlamme said,

    And which is correct? Somalis or Somalians? It’s a hoot when somebody refers to them, earnestly, as Samoians.

  12. Linda said,

    Just for the record — I was kidding with the “politically correct” remark.

  13. LaFlamme said,

    Sad but true: Brent Matthews, he of pig hurling fame, has not been the same since a childhood accident. Seems he was tossing a ball back and forth with his little sister when the ball bounced into the street. Brent went after it, his little sister was run over and killed. He saw the whole thing. Say what you will, but that kinda thing has got to mess a person up.

  14. jarheaddoc said,

    Linda, quit apologizing for the sarcasm that everyone understood. I’ve been around the lbog long enough to understand what you meant, so no harm, no foul.

  15. LaFlamme said,

    I just got email stating: “THE FORBIDDEN HERB IS BACK!”
    Not our Herb, though. It’s an ad for some herbal weight loss remedy.

  16. Linda said,

    Right, jd. I’ve lost my edge. Gotta hone it, or sink in a bloody bubble..

  17. jarheaddoc said,

    Mark, as far as that info about the guy seeing his sister hit by the car: I am very familiar with PTSD, but there comes a point where a person needs to stop claiming status as a victim and start acting like a survivor.

  18. Mainetarr said,

    Jarheaddoc, you still mad at me?

  19. Mainetarr said,

    Ok, on the whole Somalian subject. Last winter, it was freezing cold out and I was getting ready to leave work. (St. Mary’s Hospital) A very pregnant woman approached me and started to get into my car. All she could say was “ride? ride?” as her teeth were chattering. Of course, I was immediately pissed off, but offered her a ride. I asked her where and she said “I show you”. She lived on Bartlett Street. I tried to talk to her in the car as I was driving her home. I asked her how she got to the hospital, she said “I walk”. It was fugging FREEZING out!!! I said, “You don’t drive?” She said “No, but my husband does.” So, obviously, I asked her where her husband was, and if he was working and couldn’t give her a ride. I was going to explain the concept of taxi cabs to her to save her from freezing to death in the future. She said her husband didn’t work, so I asked “where is he?” “He is home, it is too cold for him to come outside.” So instead of explaining the concept of taxi cabs, I explained what a worthless lazy fucker was, taught her how to say lazy bastard and a few other choice words. I have never seen a Somalian woman laugh so hard. She couldn’t really swear, but when I did, she would laugh uncontrollably. I asked her if she would like me explain to her husband what a piece of shit he was, but all she could do was laugh. Eventually, I started laughing too, but man, was I pissed at the POS. When I dropped her off, I got a small bit of satisfaction. I gave him the finger and he gave it back, all smiling and saying “thank you”. Bastard.

  20. AO said,

    Hey! I heard that somebody won the Powerball in Sanford. Anybody know who it was? Lucky bastard!

  21. Dave said,

    After reading this thread, think its time for everybody to go watch Spike Lee’s epic movie “Do the Right Thing”

  22. Linda said,

    MT, I love the image of you giving the POS the finger. Maybe he used that “friendly gesture” that you taught him some other time and he got his just desserts. (Revenge — a dish best eaten cold)

  23. Mainetarr said,

    Yeah, what a douchebag. Speaking of douchebags, where’s jarheaddoc? Still celebrating the powerball win? Anyone know how to contact America’s Funniest Videos? I wonder if they take phone tapes. I think Jarheaddoc and I qualify for an episode of Crank Yankers.

    I have to watch my back from here on out folks. Someone has some payback to do.

  24. jarheaddoc said,

    I heard that someone in Auburn caught the ugliest damn fish that person had ever seen and had to thrown it back because she laughed so hard at the stupid thing

  25. jarheaddoc said,

    MT, you know what a wind chime does? It just spins in the wind

  26. LaFlamme said,

    Friggin’ editors. You’d think we’d been hit by a tsunami, they’re so damn obsessed on the day’s weather.

  27. Bobbie said,

    Who to hell cares about the weather right about now? The only thing that everyone needs to know is that for the next 5-10 days, everybody and their brother will be broiling in the heat. The next thing everyone will need to know is that in 9 months from now, we’ll have a mini baby boom on our hands.

  28. LaFlamme said,

    When it’s hot and sticky, that’s no time for dunking dicky. When there’s frost on the pumpkin, THAT’S the time for dicky dunkin.

  29. jarheaddoc said,

    Bobbie! Long time no hear! You a grandmother yet?

  30. Linda said,

    Mark, what kind of old wives’ tale is that? Sounds all wrong to me.

  31. Mainetarr said,

    dunking dicky? Geesh……….

  32. LaFlamme said,

    I dunno. Something one of my old drinking pals used to mutter when he wasn’t getting any.

  33. Linda said,

    Mark, too bad about KC.

  34. AO said,

    Who’s KC?

  35. Bobbie said,

    It’s been confirmed and I’ll be a grandmother sometime around February of next year. While everyone else is freezing their butts off, I’ll be on a nice warm island enjoying 80 degree weather.

    The kids headed back to St. Louis about 10 this morning. I’ll send some camping photos your way via e-mail shortly, JD.

  36. Bobbie said,

    Mark,
    You got it all backwards-when it’s hot outside, you have a baby boom in 9 months. The same goes for blizzards, hurricanes and other weather that keeps people inside for any length of time. It’s never too hot-or cold-for people to enjoy themselves.

  37. LaFlamme said,

    KC is that merry band of ball players who couldn’t come up with one lousy run against the Sox tonight. What a boring game.

  38. AO said,

    I know!! It just came to me! I did watch a good part of the game tonight. ***SNIFF*** Sorry, Mark….he-he.

  39. AO said,

    Tell her to have the baby on the 18th, Bobby. It’s a very good day! And, I want to see those camping pictures!

  40. Linda said,

    Boring?? I enjoyed it … And by the way I’ll agree with Bobbie rather than your old drinking buddies, Mark.

    Hey the cowboy message got fancier. Is somebody uploading War and Peace to the blog, for goodness sake???

  41. Bobbie said,

    I’ll definitely send some camping photos your way, AO. We have some really great scenery shots and also some of the family as well. Out of 633 photos, you figure that we out to have some good photos, right?

  42. Bobbie said,

    Sorry-can’t type tonight. That should have been ought, not out.

  43. Dave said,

    Ah.. digital photography… isn’t it great! I just bought a 2 gig compact flash card for my camera… now I can shoot about 1,000 pics at a time. Geez.. You’re right… should get at least a couple good shots out of that.

  44. Martha said,

    Congratulations Bobbie…

  45. brenda said,

    Well, after that pig head incident I stayed away from here for a couple reasons- 1) paranoid about censorship or something- because when I typed a response to someone called B.O.H.I.C.A.- and I typed the response that nobody’s gonna kissit, and that was censored! On a blog with no rules, the only rule is that there’s no rules? and I get censored for that?

    2) I expected a much more distressing interchange than this from some of the bloggers here, or maybe their posts were also censored?

    Anyway, I want to respond to a couple things….
    When I first moved to Lewiston, I heard people saying “semolians” and I thought that sounded like some kind of pasta!

    When I see the teens assimilating, what do they do? stand around in a group & yell at each other “Fucking bitch!—fucking bitch!—etc” just like Americans.

    I am relatively new to Maine also, and am getting used to dressing for the winter- so when it was frigid -0-degrees & windy, I thought about covering my head prettily like that, but soon discovered the headcovering fabrics & materials are not warm, the silky fabrics breathe in summer but hold onto the cold in winter, So I thought my business niche might be to make hijabs (or whatever they are called) out of warm fabric, such as fleece. But they wouldn’t buy it. There’s something spiritual in their clothing fabrics…. maybe someday when it gets cold enough…….

    Oh, and I really need to point out that the Somalis have not used the pig head incident to make statements or play the oppression card- that I’ve heard- the ones I have talked to have played it down, saying at most: sometimes people do things they shouldn’t, we forgive & go on with life. I even ran into a reporter on Lisbon street trying to get someone to speak out, and none of the Somalians would say a single bad word abut the incident. It was us left-wing- white- American- nuts, like me, who wanted to have a press conference to say that sort of thing isn’t funny, and to make our statement. The press conference in the park was not about Somalis speaking against the incident, it was us. My problem with the event was – it was too quiet! I can hear arguments, fights, swearing, etc from one part of the park to another, I can hear “Fucking bitch!” ” Asshole!” from the gazebo all the way to spruce street, but when we have something nice & good to say, we are so quiet you have to strain to hear it?
    whisper: peace & love…..

    whisper:

  46. Nettles said,

    I am completely annoyed by the outright ignorance of so many people with the Somali influx. Guess what? If you travel outside the borders of Maine, you will see that immigration is a part of life in American society everywhere.You have an almost completely white population that now “has to deal” with people of another culture, color, and tradition and suddenly people aren’t comfortable with their lives. If you really want pull out that non-sense card of “us” and “them” , like we own the territorial boundaries of this huge nation, than wouldn’t America actually be owned by the real natives of the country? For those of you who are confused, the Native Americans. If you think one way about someone, why don’t you ask them instead of making things up. Speaking from my own experiences, I know many people born and raised here that are so ungrateful and have never had the experience of striving for something. I know, many Somalians, that do have such vigor and desire to do something because they have seen another side of life. Now saying this, I’m not saying that all Americans are spoiled and all immigrants are all grateful. What I am trying to say is that it seems there is always perpetual cycle of us trying to seperate one another and instead of looking at our similarities.Immigrants usually become the scapegoats for aspects of society that were already wrong.
    By the way,Treehugger, very original name I must say ,you obviously need another one. I could be wrong but it seems you probaly like people that dont make you question yourself, and of course, trees. Read a history book and consider the context. Peace..

  47. Montel said,

    Brenda and Nettles, the one thing you’ve both failed to realize is that, when my ancesters arrived in LA, the roomed with relatives and went right to work, within days.

    The Somalis arrived here boarded with friends, went straight to the welfare office, got all the benefits they could, REQUIRED us to support them, REQUIRED us to hire special teachers to educate them. And they didn’t do this fleeing from Somalia, but from Atlanta AFTER their Federal benefits ran out. NOW can you understand why some people resented them? If not, then there’s no way to really argue. We come from different lives.

  48. Nettles said,

    Okay, so you are trying to compare ancestors from a complete different time period and context-am I correct?
    So, because your ancestors suffered in a time in which, I am assuming, I could be wrong, there was a lot of suffering everywhere in the United States, not just Lewiston/Auburn, the Somalis and every immigrant here should have to deal with the same situation. You can stop me if I’m way off, but there is no way I will ever believe that their is some god-given superiority to one ethnic group or religious group suffering more than another, especially when you are talking about a time that is not even relevant to how we live today.
    Required to support them? Guess what, I think many of us have numerous luxuries- if it means I can’t get the new Ipod or whatever, because I’m helping a fellow human being, than so be it.
    All of our ancestors have done so many things that many of us could not even fathom, to ensure the liberties that we have today. If you would really like to know about my ancestry-than fine so be it. My ancestors have been subjected to a continuous wrath of genocide.
    Don’t talk to me about entitlement.

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