Shopping Center Attack: Why I Care

Saturday night’s attack in a St. Cloud shopping center was uncomfortably close to home. Crossroads Mall is about an hour down the road from where I live, and a place I’ve enjoyed visiting.

Only one person died, the attacker: a 22 year old St. Cloud-area student.

  1. Death in a Shopping Center
  2. “Let’s Spread Love, not Hate”

Caring About Human Life

The incident hasn’t exactly been headline international news, but the attention it’s gotten is impressive, considering what else has been going on:

Getting back to what happened in St. Cloud, I’m still upset about the attack: and sorry that the attacker is dead. That, I’d better explain.

I believe that human life is sacred: all human life. Each of us has equal dignity: no matter where we are, who we are, or how we act. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 360, 17001706, 19321933, 1935, 2258)

Murder, deliberately killing an innocent person, is wrong. (Catechism, 22682269)

Maybe the young man didn’t really mean to kill anyone: but what he was doing with a knife apparently looked like murderous attacks. I can’t say that I am sorry that his attacks were stopped.

But I do regret that he is dead.

His actions disturbed his community, which is uncomfortably close to mine. If he had lived, it’s possible that he could have made some reparation, “paying” in some way for his actions; and helping to heal his community.

One of these days I’ll talk about justice, the common good, and all that. But not today. (Catechism, 19051912)

Why should I care? Like I keep saying: I should love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I’d like to be treated. (Matthew 5:4344, 7:12, 22:3640, Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31, 10:2527, 2937; Catechism, 1789)

Somali-Americans and Leviticus

He was a Somali-American, born in Kenya. There’s been a civil war in Somalia since around 1990, which encouraged many families to get out while they were still alive. Many of them came to America — mostly Minnesota.

Some will probably decide to move back, when and if things settle down in the old country. I hope some decide to stay: if for no other reason than that I haven’t had a chance to try their coffee yet.

Part of my attitude toward Somali-Americans comes from my family background and personal experience. But even if I wasn’t inclined to accept folks who don’t look and act exactly like me: I’d be obliged to cultivate that acceptance:

“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

“Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”

(Catechism, 2241)

An ‘open door’ immigration is not a new idea:

“You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”
(Exodus 23:9)

” ‘When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him.

“You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God.”
(Leviticus 19:3334)

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,”
(Matthew 25:35)

About Catechism, 22682269, and the newcomer’s obligation “to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens” — it looks like many Somali-Americans in St. Cloud are as upset about the young man’s actions as I am.

More so, since they’re still at the stage my ancestors were, just a few generations back: trying to convince ‘regular Americans’ that they’re new neighbors, not threats. More of that below, under “Let’s Spread Love, not Hate”.

1. Death in a Shopping Center

(From AFP, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(“Dahir A Adan had been in the US for 15 years, his father said”
(BBC News))

Minnesota mall knifeman was student, says father
BBC News (September 19, 2016)

A knifeman who stabbed nine people at a Minnesota shopping centre at the weekend has been identified by his father as a 22-year-old student.

“Dahir A Adan is a Kenyan-born ethnic Somali who had been in the US for 15 years, his father told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“He said he had ‘no suspicion’ that his son was involved in extremist activity….

“…The Islamic State group claimed responsibility. Rasd, a news agency linked to the group, claimed on Sunday the Minnesota attacker was a ‘soldier of the Islamic State’.

“The attacker, who was dressed in a security uniform and carrying what appeared to be a kitchen knife, reportedly made at least one reference to Allah and asked a victim if he or she was Muslim before attacking, said police.

“Adan had been working as a security guard for the mall’s Electrolux Home Products store, according a company spokeswoman….”

We still don’t, as far as I’ve read, know why Dahir1 A Adan decided to attack those folks. What does seem clear is that he cut or stabbed several people at a shopping mall, and was killed by an off-duty police officer.

I’m sorry that those folks got hurt, and that young Mr. Adan is dead. But I’m not going to denounce Crossroad Mall for inciting violence against shoppers, or call for stronger anti-knife legislation.

There’s been enough craziness this year:

“The Least Force Necessary”

I went over legitimate defense on September 11, 2016.

I’m allowed to avoid or resist the attack; using the least force necessary. The same principle applies to groups of people. (22632267, 23072317)

Ideally, someone would have found a way to restrain Dahir A Adan, not kill him. But everything I’ve read says that he started this mess, attacking folks with a knife.

I’m not going to criticize someone for protecting innocent shoppers: particularly since a knife, even a “kitchen knife,” can be a lethal weapon. It’s a wonder that more folks didn’t end up hospitalized.

Non-lethal weapons have been moving out of pulp science fiction and into research and development. But even those are controversial, and that’s another topic.

2. “Let’s Spread Love, not Hate”

(From Jared Goyette, via The Guardian, used w/o permission.)
(“Somali-American leaders hold a press conference in St Cloud, Minnesota, to address the mass stabbing attack of Saturday night.”
(The Guardian))

Somali-American leaders speak out in press conference
Ben Rodgers, St. Cloud Times (September 18, 2016)
(Includes video)

A group of St. Cloud Somali-American leaders, as well as other community leaders, spoke out in a nationally televised press conference on Sunday afternoon at Lake George.

“The press conference came after an incident Sunday night involving a stabbing attack at the Crossroads Center in St. Cloud. The community leaders used it as an opportunity to stress the attack was perpetrated by a single individual, that it does not represent the Somali-American and Muslim community and to express support for the victims….

“…Mohamoud Mohamed, executive director of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Association: ‘They are minorities in our faith that are misusing the credibility of our faith. Islam is peace.’

Lul Hersi, member of the St. Cloud Somali-American community: ‘Let’s unite as one Minnesota. Let’s take love instead of hate. Let’s preach the good of us, not the bad that happens just once in a while. … I said last night, not in St. Cloud. That is what I told my kids, not in St. Cloud. I hope my neighbors, my co-workers, my friends, my community member, my elders and other take this to heart. Let’s spread love, not hate.’

The Rev. Randy Johnson, pastor at First United Methodist Church: ‘As Christian leaders we have come to gather with our brothers and sisters who are Muslims on this day to say the work will continue. That peace is our goal and we will continue together to make this a community that is known throughout this nation as a community that never quits working for peace.’…”

The press conference isn’t the highest-profile item around, no surprise considering how much else has been happening, but it’s getting a bit of attention:

Some of the bad news is good news, sort of, from the ‘you’re known by the enemies you make’ viewpoint —

“…Jaylani Hussein, the executive director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said central Minnesota has a history of anti-Muslim organizing. He pointed to a string of incidents dating back years, including visits by well-known anti-Muslim speakers and a recent billboard, eventually removed, that read ‘Catholic Charities Resettles Islamists, Evil or Insanity.’…”
(Associated press, via ABC News)

I don’t know which “Catholic Charities” the billboard folks had in mind. There’s Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud and of St. Paul and Minneapolis, among others.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, it was a complaint by the St. Cloud Catholic Charities that encouraged Franklin Outdoor to take the message down.

There’s an interesting conflict between freedom of expression, civic responsibility, and common sense involved: but I can’t say that I’m sorry to see that particular bit of anti-Catholic xenophobia gone.

Tolerance and Hope

Over the centuries, America’s government and has showed an increased tolerance of non-English, non-Protestant Americans.

I see that as a good thing, partly because many of my ancestors are of ‘low type.’2 I’m nearly half Irish.

Most Americans eventually realized that many if not most Irishmen were not violent drunkards with criminal tendencies.

I’m pretty sure that a century from now most of us will have gotten used to the descendants of today’s immigrants. And, most likely, a few will be upset about some other bunch of newcomers.

My hope is that folks with get-up-and-go will keep getting up and going: to America. I think we all benefit when folks add new ideas and fresh enthusiasm to America’s mix.

More of my take on:

(Image from Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

1 On a poignant note — apparently the name Dahir, or Daahir, comes from a Somali word meaning “pure” or “religiously pure.”

My native culture was more apt to give girls names like Chastity or Katherine — which may or may not be from Αικατερινη. Tohar, טוֹהַר, apparently means “pure,” but I’ve never run into someone with that name.

2 I really do not miss the ‘good old days:’

(From The New York Times, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
((Some) help-wanted ad in The New York Times, 1854.)

(From H. Strickland Constable, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Allegedly-scientific reason for keeping ‘low types’ in our place.)

“The Iberians are believed to have been originally an African race, who thousands of years ago spread themselves through Spain over Western Europe. Their remains are found in the barrows, or burying places, in sundry parts of these countries. The skulls are of low prognathous type. They came to Ireland and mixed with the natives of the South and West, who themselves are supposed to have been of low type and descendants of savages of the Stone Age, who, in consequence of isolation from the rest of the world, had never been out-competed in the healthy struggle of life, and thus made way, according to the laws of nature, for superior races.”
(From “Ireland from One or Two Neglected Points of View,” H. Strickland Constable, 1899)

I used the Constable illustration last month. (August 26, 2016)

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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9 Responses to Shopping Center Attack: Why I Care

  1. Naomi Gill says:

    Some odd indenting in the block quote after this line: “I’d be obliged to cultivate that acceptance:”

    Wrong tense: “America’s government and has show an increased”

    Missing half a sentence or wrong punctuation: “Judging from what I’ve read,”

    The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

    • About the block quote indent – I agree, but that’s the way this WordPress theme handles ‘blockquote within blockquote’ situations. I’m not inclined to fiddle with the code to change it.

      I was going somewhere with that sentence fragment – but can’t recall where.


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