Nashville, Tennessee, it turns out, is home to the largest Kurdish community in the U.S., I learned from this article. Here’s the most interesting part:
The Kurds’ initial arrival in Nashville in the 1970s was a kind of happy accident. Many in that first wave were processed through Fort Campbell, an Army base just over the Kentucky border, about 40 miles north. Proximity and a booming economy led a lot of those Kurds to gravitate to Nashville.
Nashville was viewed as a manageable, relatively affordable place to live, full of entry-level jobs for people who didn’t speak much English. Kurds also felt comfortable in a climate and surrounding hilliness that came close to replicating their homeland.
The city’s Bible Belt character also was appreciated by Kurdish Muslims. They found the traditional family values lifestyle of the city’s Christian congregations compatible with their own conservative, family-centric way of life.
"Being a religious city, it feels safer if you’re in a place that matches your own values," said Tahir Hussain, president of the Nashville Kurdish Forum, which provides immigrant services. "The core values of the three main religions here — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — are the same. The culture values the family."
It turns out that residents of Nashville are proud of their Kurdish residents too. Seems that religious pluralism is possible in "Jesusland," though I should probably check with a couple of my former students (one from Nashville, the other, I think, from Knoxville, both Iranian), Maryam Abolfazli and Bahar Shariati. (I remember Bahar telling me that her favorite thing about Thanksgiving, next to the kabobs, was chess pie.) Bahar, by the way, is a 2L at Villanova, an editor of the law review. Maryam is in the master’s program in international studies at Columbia, having spent a couple of years working with a government ministry in Afghanistan (surely the most exciting job one of my students has ever had).
Here is Bill Hobbss post on Iraqi election day in Nashville (one of five expatriate polling places in the U.S.). No predictions yet from the major networks....