Like immigrants today

A New York Times article threw national attention onto anti-Muslim hostility in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Besides sadness and embarrassment here, it generated an ongoing debate in the St. Cloud Times between supporters of immigrants and persons opposed. I wrote in a Your Turn article for the St. Cloud Times:
I am sad that I saw German names signed on letters angry at the Times for encouraging hospitality to Somali immigrants. . . . Stearns County is known for its heavy concentration of German-Catholics—my people. I’d like to be proud of them.
I noted striking parallels in today’s anti-immigrant feeling to facts I found in writing Beyond Parochial Faith: A Catholic Confesses.

German-Catholic families fled poverty and violence in Europe as Somalis flee al-Shabaab in Somalia and Hispanics flee violent gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In the 19th century, my great-great grandparents living in the poorest region of Germany responded to the invitation of Fr. Francis Xavier Pierz to come to Minnesota. No laws barred them, but they faced hostile feelings against immigrants and Catholics.

I wrote that we need to apply our German-Catholic experience to the present day.
Complaints about Somali prayer remind me of a story in my Avon centennial history book where Protestants protested Catholic prayer and instruction in Avon’s public school.
Someday—who knows how long from now—people will look back on the venom spewed today, led by the present occupant of the White House. They will be appalled that their people participated in it.


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