Sitting in the audience at the great Trump rally in Minneapolis on Thursday evening, I couldn’t help but watch the event in part through the eyes of my Somali sources. When he turned to the subject of immigration, the president singled out Minnesota’s Somali community. “For many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” he said. The remark predictably elicited boos from crowd.
I cringed. This isn’t the way to do what needs to be done. It’s not right.
How did my Somali sources — they treat me like a trusted friend — react?
Somali source A called me Thursday night following the rally as we were heading home. The hour was late; we had been trapped inside Target Center while the left-wing nuts rampaged outside. However, the lateness of the hour had not dimmed his enthusiasm. He was ebullient.
Source A loved that President Trump had quoted me saying that everything about Omar is a fraud, including her name. This is where I had come in with him three years ago. Indeed, I had been thinking of my initial meeting with him when I wrote that. He wondered if I could help him meet President Trump the next time he comes to town.
I’ve been asking him for three years why he is helping me, as he continues to do. He tells me that he loves the United States and feels that Ilhan Omar is taking advantage of us.
Somali source B texted me on Friday morning. Source B comes at politics from the left. When it comes to the facts of the Omar case, I have found source B to be 100 percent reliable. Source B commented by text:
I’m in the space where I want her to fail but I can’t help Trump win. He can love America without hating us so much. It’s frightening to hear a president openly hate us this much. Anyway I needed to say that…
We do love America and maybe he needs to hear that. It might help him see that he can’t generalize.
I wouldn’t have helped you if I didn’t truly believe she’s bad for America. She has contributed to this atmosphere of hate against us. But I also hope America sees that Somalis are just ordinary people like them someday.
I don’t think these comments fairly reflect what Trump said, but I understand the perception. We need to find a way to discuss the difficult issues raised by the the flood of immigration without provoking a good-faith reaction like this.