Head of Fargo-Moorhead Refugee Group Owes the Community an Apology

Hukun Abdullahi, executive director of the Afro American Students Association speaks during a meeting where the Somali Council of Elders was introduced to local Moorhead leaders and the Somali community on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Rick Abbott / The Forum

In my Sunday print column I wrote that an ugly incident in the parking lot of a Fargo Walmart between a white woman and three Somali women has “served as a sort of bat signal for political opportunists eager to swoop in and use this anecdote as leverage.”

Consider these comments, as quoted by my colleague Tu-Uyen Tran, as proof of my point:

“The state and the city asking for how much it costs to have refugees in the community, while a sensible question from the financial standpoint, it has negatively impacted our image in the community,” Hukun Abdullahi, head of the Afro American Development Association in Fargo-Moorhead, told the Fargo City Commission last night. “And it also has increased the number of hostile incidents against the refugees.”

The debate around refugee resettlement is fraught enough without opportunists like Abdullahi throwing rhetorical bombs.

Following the logic there?

We’re not allowed to discuss or debate the fiscal and social impacts of refugee resettlement policy because it increases hostility against refugees. Which is certainly very convenient for Abdullahi’s politics. He has, rather deftly, declared that even mentioning this issue he’d rather not have mentioned is aiding and abetting hate crimes.

Which is ridiculous.

Utterly unacceptable.

Something worthy of scorn and derision.

Abdullahi should lose whatever credibility he has with serious-minded participants in this debate.

Absent an apology and a retraction, community leaders should stop taking him seriously. His organization, as long as he is a participant, should be marginalized.

If that all sounds extreme, it really isn’t. Abdullahi has branded perfectly legitimate inquiry into public policy as tantamount to inciting racially-motivated incidents. That’s not something a person interested in comity and sound public policy does.

Which makes this observer wonder if Abdullahi is truly interested in either. Because his actions make it seem as though he’s more interested in sowing the seeds of discord.

Shame on him.

The debate around refugee resettlement is fraught enough without opportunists like Abdullahi throwing rhetorical bombs.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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