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{From Cowpens Droppings, November, 2009}


You can see it on the local news in Cowpens, South Carolina, five in the morning til twelve at night. Cops chasing robbers all over the South Carolina Upstate, robbers scheming on any easy pickings, like late night drunks or defenseless old homeowners, thugs shooting thugs over drug deals gone bad, even grannies knocking off banks, and spouses whupping up on their own kind. At another level of infighting, the high schools and their loyalists are getting fanatic all week in preparation for the Friday night showdowns under the floodlights, almost primping for the cameras,  all for the show. Organized university coaching staffs huddle in the stands, plotting the execution, the seduction of the biggest and fastest high school boys under the lights to come over and “play for us, not them” next year. You could call it competition at all levels. Both cops and robbers are ex-footballers. I would call it misdirected hormonal energy at all levels. There is no real “play” in the struggles. What else can young males do these days with all that energy?


There’s a war within a war within a war going on in Columbus, Ohio. I have known Somalis for over 42 years, in schools, on dusty African roads, in tea shops, at weddings, under mortar fire, between jobs, in their kitchens and in their boudoirs. I hunted with them and was hunted by them. Every one I ever met or knew was a Muslim. No exceptions. Some of them were brilliant, some ambitious, generous and kind, some extra clever. Most of them were clan-centric, proud of themselves, and could give out a ribbing  just as well as take one. Some of them are just plain bad news.

Now here in the US, there is an extension of the ideological conflict going on between two groups of Somalis that should be better understood. The Traditional Somali grew up in a sorta “Sufi” form of Islam. They dance, make poetry, sing songs in groups and enjoy social company. Especially when it rains. They have memorized thousands of lines of poetry, for example, just about how wonderful life is when it rains. That’s the way it is in a dry place when you are a nomad with animals to keep. The second group of Somalis, here and in Somalia, have been influenced by the “Wahaabi” form of Islam. This form is imported from Saudi Arabia. It is foreign to the Traditional Somali. “Wahaabis” are the polar opposites of the “Sufis.” They chop off hands for minor offences, hate to see anything Western, they grow funny little goatees, they stone to death girls that break their draconian rules, and they are the most sexually repressed group of boys and men I have ever witnessed, including the hard core Southern Baptists I grew up with in Tulsa and the Pilgrims I read about in the US history books. They don’t want to see a woman’s ankle skin nor see her breasts held up by a bra. Their test is to make the girls and women shake their breasts to prove they have no bras underneath the black costumes. The jiggle will set you free.

Now these two groups are represented in Columbus, Ohio in two of the mosques there. There is a Peace Mosque and a War Mosque. You think the war mosque, the Wahaabis, can leave the Peace Mosque, the Sufis, alone and let’m be? No way. For details, here’s the scoop:


Now, two years ago I suggested to an academic friend who follows the Somali chaos that the Al-Qaeda supported factions in Somalia would eventually step on the toes of the traditional Somali religious folks, and I was right on that prediction. Somalis hate outsiders. Not just Europeans or Americans. They hate Kenyans, they hate Ethiopians, they hate Chinese and Indians, they hate Arabs. My Somali language teacher, a famous retrobate, but a very intelligent reprobate, once explained to our small language class in New York: “Somalis are the most democratic people in the world. We hate everyone equally.”

So all outsiders are treated with disdain. One Somali proverb translates: “There are two kinds of people in the world. The quick and the dumb. Somalis are quick. The rest are dumb.” So what can Somalis do once they have evicted all foreigners (and many of their own women and children) by means of violent, senseless fighting. Rape and plunder, blood and glory. Now the men and boys are left with only themselves to deal with, their Toyota land cruisers, AK-47s, the 50 mm mounted machine guns, the “BOSS” T-shirts, their cell phones, and their bad breath.

There are peaceful areas in Somalia, which is overall the size of Texas. I will attend to those areas of calm on another day. But now we must look at the infighting among the religious sub-groups and wonder why? Why? Why? Lots of shifting loyalties, but always sub-clan based. The basic fighting is between Wahaabi influenced and Sufi influenced gangs. The international press calls them “militias.” At any given time, no international expert really knows which side one militia will fight for tomorrow.

See for a peek into yesterday’s news. The Central Somali Government, fabricated by outsiders, is apologizing to the Sufi clerics, but it is not clear whether they will be “with us or against us” by the time we hear the next report.