Virtually every week the Minneapolis Star Tribune runs an article regarding immigrants in Minnesota, always with a subtext of how wonderful they are and how wonderful the transformation of Minnesota or the United States by these immigrants is. Today’s story–“Africans struggle to make new home”–is utterly typical. It discusses the burgeoning population of Somalis and Ethiopians in the Twin Cities. One of Minnesota’s main attractions for such immigrants–Minnesota’s Swedish style welfare system–is cloaked in euphesism. The expressly touted advantages these immigrants bring to Minnesota are–what else?–confined to their “diversity” (“diversity of immigration enriches the Twin Cities area, said Carol Engebretson Byrne, executive director of the Minnesota International Center”). And even though the reporters’ intentions are otherwise, reality does creep through if the reader sticks with this very long story to the end:
“Eric Damien, a Frenchman who serves as executive director of the Alliance Francaise de Minneapolis-St. Paul, said he was surprised to arrive here after stints in India and South Africa and find such a profusion of different nationalities.
“‘I wouldn’t have expected as many Hispanics or Hmong or Somalians,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know they were coming to Minnesota.’
“The presence of foreigners, he said, can widen the horizons of Americans as they try to understand the rest of the world.
“‘I was very surprised that the reaction of so many Americans to 9/11 was “”Why don’t they like us?'” he said. ‘There are deep-rooted reasons for this, and immigrants can help Americans to understand.'”
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