An open letter to the fearmonger who crashed our DL event
Perhaps you misunderstand us, Mr. Usama Dakdok, so let's get things clear. When you stood up and spewed hate speech at our local "Meet Your Muslim Neighbors" event designed to build bridges and create understanding, you were not a welcomed presence. You came all the way from Florida to do this first in Brainerd and now here, but as it turns out, we were not the audience you probably thought we were.
Yes, we are located in a mostly rural, mostly white, mostly Scandinavian part of the country. We're not a big melting pot — we know that. We're more of a crock pot full of tater tot hot dish. Whether we realize it or not, many of us have fairly thick northern accents that, to some, may be misinterpreted as simple and a bit back-woodsey. To be very, very honest, anybody who shows up here in traditional Islamic clothing and speaking another language will be probably be stared at. We're not used to it. The majority of our community knows very little about Muslims, except what we see on TV, which leaves many people at least a little uneasy about it all.
Here is the thing, though. Just because we may seem like an easy target — a persuadable audience — doesn't mean we are. The same stubborn, slow-to-change attitudes that many of us here have may mean we're not the best at reaching out to newcomers, particularly if they are obviously different from us, but it also means we don't take your word either.
At the meeting, you tried to "educate" guest speaker Fauzia Haider on her own faith, as if you had the right to clarify what her religion should mean to her. We're sure you would have been open to her breaking down the actual meaning of your own religious beliefs for you, but she didn't do that. It's almost like she thought you had the right as an American to believe in your God the way you wanted to. Huh strange. It's weird when people break out their true American values like that.
It's too bad you wasted your time and money coming here, but just so that you don't feel the need to stay, let us explain to you who we are in this "neck of the woods."
We are low maintenance. If somebody moves in next door, we generally only require a few things in order for them to earn our favor. Number one, we feel certain you are a good hearted person with no intent to harm. Number two, you work for your paycheck unless you are legitimately disabled. Number three, you shovel your own driveway. Boom. We're happy. We're not a hateful group here, Mr. Dakdok. We assume that you learned that during your hate speech when you were told to sit down by audience members. Our own police chief, Tim Eggebraaten, even sat down next to you like a teacher sitting down next to a misbehaved child, to ensure you didn't stand back up. Are you grasping this by now, Mr. Daktok? Our community literally did not want you standing up. We're not perfect, but we're not you. We will evolve on our own accord and in a way that we will be proud of — we don't need your help or "education" — thank you very much. Safe travels home.