Posted: 04/23/15 21:27, Edited: 04/25/15 10:48
by Dave Mindeman
I am more than a little troubled about Norm Coleman's Op-Ed in the Star Tribune, regarding the recruitment of young men in Minneapolis for the terror networks of ISIS and Al-Shabab.
I say troubling because I am a little leary of exactly what Norm Coleman would want us to do about this.
He focuses on what US Attorney Andy Luger said recently after some terror arrests:
"To be clear," he (Luger) said, "we have a terror-recruitment problem in Minnesota. ... This case demonstrates how difficult it is to put an end to recruiting here."
Regarding which, Norm extrapolates:
When the U.S. attorney tells the nation that Minnesota has a terror-recruitment problem, it is time for Minnesota to do something.
What bothers me about what Norm says here is that he seems to be saying that we aren't doing anything. And I would say that this is not true.
Back in November, US Attorney Andy Luger was invited to the White House and received Federal backing for an anti-recuritment program....
The one-year pilot program -- labeled Building Community Resiliency -- will include job creation and after-school activities and is likely to cost millions. The Obama administration has targeted Boston and Los Angeles for similar pilot programs aimed at other minority communities with strong ties to the Middle East.
This program has been put forward after consultation with the Somali community and looks like a very good first step in confronting the problem.
What is hampering efforts to gain trust in these communities is the tendency for profiling them...
Somalis have complained vigorously to Luger about racial profiling when they fly out of the Twin Cities. Describing it as a "serious and recurring problem."
What I fear Norm Coleman's "awareness" effort is going to do is worsen that profiling issue.
Yes, Minnesotans should be on the alert, but let's let the professionals work on the actual details of thwarting these recruitment practices. This is not a case for the average Minnesotan to get directly involved and hamper efforts of communication between law enforcement and the communities affected directly.
To me, Andy Luger is doing this right. He is not denying the problem exists - he seeks to confront it - and he is working with the Somali community to find those solutions.
There will be some natural conflicts between law enforcement and the Somali community as a whole, but I think Norm Coleman is wrong to broaden the activity via a "task force" or worse, put forward legislative hearings which would allow uninformed legislators to worsen or agitate the situation.
Norm is not addressing or forwarding a solution to the known root causes of this problem....
Job creation is likely going to be a key marker, community leaders say. Minnesota's demographers estimate that only 49 percent of the Somali-born population between the ages of 16 and 64 are working, based on survey averages from 2007 to 2011. In addition, among the men in Minnesota's five largest immigrant and refugee groups, Somali men of working age were most likely to struggle to find employment, demographers found.
Luger said a second, immediate issue is assuring Somalis that their personal freedoms will be respected even as federal authorities protect national security, especially at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
I am sure Norm Coleman means well. But he latches on to the same old tired Republican solution to these problems - fearmongering. We must isolate minority communities....single them out....force them to defend the group as a whole for the actions of a small group.
That is exactly what we do not need here. We need to help the Somali community co-exist in society and help them to deal with some of their own troubled youth. Not with fear, but with the compassion that is the only right way to change this disenchantment and hopelessness.
Norm is right about one thing....this IS a Minnesota problem and not just a Somali problem. And what they need is Minnesota's support, not more suspicion.