The United States is a country of immigrants. Even if you can trace your family back to Native-America, they possibly crossed onto this continent from Beringia, or the Bering land bridge. We offer a lot to the immigrant in terms of economic freedom and political liberty. I speak from the experience of being a third-generation American. But the sticky issue of assimilation still crops into our national dialogue:
Ten years after a Lewiston mayor set off a firestorm by saying the city’s Somali population was growing too fast, a new mayor’s remarks about the immigrant community is sparking another wave of anger and calls for his resignation.
Somali immigrants and their supporters in this former mill city in central Maine say Mayor Robert Macdonald should apologize and step down for what they call repeated anti-immigrant remarks, including telling a British Broadcasting Corp. interviewer that immigrants should “accept our culture and leave your culture at the door.”
A group of about 50 protesters rallied outside City Hall on Thursday before delivering 1,400 petitions to Macdonald’s office, asking for his resignation.
The mayor’s remarks sounded like he was telling immigrants to abandon their religion, their language and their identities, said Nimo Yonis, 26, one of an about 6,000 Somali refugees who live in Lewiston and the neighboring city of Auburn. The mayor’s words were painful, hurtful and “represent hate,” she said.
“Basically, he’s telling us to forget who we were,” Yonis said. “Just leaving your culture at the door is leaving what you believe, what you stand for and who you are at the door.”
Here is the issue- Ms. Nimo Yonis, or Nemo Yonis as she is known on her MySpace page (The Official Genuine Beauty), wants it both ways. She demands we respect her culture and goes into full Somali garb, including draped head-scarf.
But you can see she is quite different on her MySpace page. Can she pull off her title The Official Genuine Beauty, over in Somali? Nope. Ah, you were a sorority girl, an Alpha Beta Delta at Georgia State University? Would that fly in Somalia?
You are a flight attendant who makes $100K? You grew up in Georgia, but just jetted up to Maine to get your picture in the paper? The mayor was not asking you to abandon anything, just to do what you’ve clearly done.
Ms. Yonis, you enjoy our freedoms and clearly accept our culture, as evidenced by your MySpace page. (I see the dudes hollerin’ you. Quite indelicately.) But you chaff at the assimilation suggestion when you’ve already assimilated? How does this represent the hate you mention?
My guess: you are window dressing for the Somali community up there. One of your cousins called you up and you could not resist. Or am I being hateful too? Before you get too angry with my words, know that I love the fresh energy new Americans bring to our country. That I speak several foreign languages not my own. That I am not a hateful bigot. Just someone who loves his homeland. . .
I see some of the signs in the protest have National People’s Action on them, a community organizing group based out of Chicago. It was founded by Shel Trapp and Gale Cincotta:
Gale Cincotta (December 28, 1929 – August 15, 2001), a community activist from the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, led the national fight for the US federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The CRA requires banks and savings and loans to offer credit throughout their entire market areas and prohibits them from targeting only wealthier neighborhoods with their lending and services, a practice known as redlining.
She was a co-founder with Shel Trapp of the National People’s Action in Chicago, a coalition of some 300 community organizations throughout the United States, and served as its executive director and chairperson from 1973 until her death in 2001.
Wow. Some interesting, shady folks. Ones who pushed for the loosening of mortgages. Did the demise of red-lining lead to the foreclosure crisis? What are they doing in Maine, other than stirring the pot?
For the record, I don’t think any immigrant to this country needs to leave their culture completely at the door. But they do need to accept ours. We don’t need more insular communities within United States. And this is the point of contention.
Update: I received three comments, from two different names (but one IP address) weighing in on the matter. First, Mike Morowitz said:
Two different Somalian girls. Nimo grew up in Lewiston according to quotes. Nemo is another Somalian woman of the same age from Georgia.
Then Eþulf said:
I love how many ignorami failed to notice her MySpace hasn’t been logged into in two years. Instead of trying to defame her based on an old web profile try addressing the issues.
And then Mike Morowitz commented later with:
You might consider checking to ensure the person who owns the MySpace is the same person that you’re talking about.
Pro-tip: They’re not.
Okay, I am open to the possibility that these are two different girls. One came from Atlanta and the other from Lewiston. They are the same age and both Somali, which led me to believe they are the same person. First, let me check the spelling. Ah, the Atlanta girl spells her name both Nemo and Nimo. Do a simple search. So that is inclusive.
Hmm, here is a newspaper (Sun-Journal, Thurs, March 07, 2002) article telling me that Nemo Yonis moved from Atlanta to Lewiston, Maine to attend high school.
Pro-tip: you are wrong, troll. Nimo (Nemo) Yonis is the one taking advantage of American hospitality. You can’t play it both ways. Either she is the Americanized party girl or the concerned, community-organizing Somali lady who wears a head covering. Not both.
Update II: An interesting observation was posed from a commenter. Of course, she probably did not mean to be so interesting; she was striving for dismissal.
Luscinia Hâfez said:
You’re a bunch of mindless sheep drunk on fear of a few Somalis.
Fear is the wrong word. If assimilation is going to be challenged, it better be challenged by someone or some group with something superior to propose. And this woman is a phony.
I’ve noticed I’ve had unprecedented (my new favorite word) traffic from Maine since I posted it. And not a peep from the sheep-herders.
I’ve spent time in more than 30 countries. (Yes, I counted.) And I can point to several who have enviable traits engendered by their society. Although I have never travelled to Somalia, I doubt it would make the list. . .