Friday, November 07, 2003

The conservatism of U.S. immigrants 

My Armenian grandmother was probably the most patriotic member of my family, and one of the most patriotic people I knew growing up. She would have had no time for the people protesting the war because she had lived through radical Islamic terror in an earlier time. She also voted a straighter Republican ticket than even my mother (who wouldn't talk to me for a day after she took me to vote for the first time in a primary and I asked for a Democratic ballot.) The Elder at Fraters Libertas finds this is also true of Somali immigrants during his day of diversity training:
I learned a great deal about Somali values and culture including:

- Somalis are very independent and individualistic with a strong work ethic.

- Many Somalis don't trust government institutions or banks.

- Somalis are deeply religious and very committed to their faith.

- Somalis are family orientated and support traditional family structures. .

- Somalis do not believe in or engage in pre-marital sex. (It was mentioned that AIDs is almost non-existent in the Somali community because of this)

- Somalis do not believe in indulging in alcohol or mind altering drugs.

- Somali parents are concerned about passing on their traditional values to their children.

- Somali parents are also concerned about the opportunities for their children to pray at school.
Of course the audience was full of respect, and one woman wondered aloud why the Somalis couldn't pray in school. The Elder wonders whether they would have been as encouraging of school prayer for "white, evangelical Christians"?

To her credit, after the town my grandmother raised her family in lost its Orthodox church, she had her family pray in a Protestant church. She also deeply distrusted banks -- we found money in mattresses after she died. This pattern repeats itself in many other immigrant cultures from Hispanic to Hmong.