It’s always interesting to hear from visitors about their perspectives on Twin Falls. They marvel at the beauty of the canyon. They remark about all the new construction. Sometimes they’ll tell you about a favorite restaurant they tried. And almost all of them will say how welcoming, friendly and hospitable our community is.
I agree. Twin Falls is pretty cool.
But go online recently and you’ll hear a much different story. Especially if you’ve been reading the yarns high-profile political activist Pamela Geller has been spinning about Twin Falls, fed to her mostly by local gadfly Julie Ruf and her ilk.
Thanks to Geller, tens of thousands of her readers now think Twin Falls is a hellhole.
Since earlier this summer, when a 5-year-old was allegedly assaulted at the Fawnbrook Apartments, Ruf has been dishing dirt to Geller, a commentator and blogger with a large following, about how refugees are ruining our city. By now we’ve all heard the story: A handful of twisted folks somehow believe the girl’s assault is clear proof that Muslims are destroying Twin Falls because the boys accused of committing the assault are Muslims or refugees or maybe both. And, oh, yeah, the mainstream media, the entire city council, city staff, the police, the county prosecutor’s office, the city’s major employers, the local community college, several state Republican lawmakers and a federal prosecutor are complicit in a conspiracy to either cover up the details of the assault, asperse the girl’s family or mislead you in an effort to promote a liberal agenda that will allow Muslims to take over our community, commit terrorism, molest our children and institute sharia law.
Or something like that. The accusations grow a little each day, and it’s hard to keep up.
It’d be almost comical if this weren’t also true: Geller and others in the anti-Muslim movement have happily typed up these scary fairy tales, which are being read by thousands of people around the world who believe Twin Falls is no longer in Idaho but sandwiched somewhere in one of Dante’s circles of hell.
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” isn’t exactly the phrase our economic development leaders and tourism promoters want associated with Twin Falls.
And neither do I.
So I believe it’s important to offer an alternative perspective on our fine city and look at one of Geller’s most recent columns, published last week on the Breitbart website, and see if we can’t set the record straight about our city.
Geller writes: “Ruf also recounted that one Sunday afternoon, she was with a group of Twin Falls residents that encountered a repellent prostitute soliciting outside of the local public library in broad daylight, three blocks from the police station. She was an older harlot who had already attracted a line of Muslim immigrant males waiting in their cars for their turn.”
Who knows what Ruf and her friends saw outside the library, but I checked with police who said they aren’t aware of any situation even remotely like the one Geller describes. There was one case of woman from California and a man from Mexico in a car near the library recently in the middle of the night, but it certainly wasn’t an old hooker and a parade of Muslim johns. In fact, police have investigated prostitution at four Twin Falls motels in the past 80 days, and none of the stings appeared to involve refugees.
Geller writes of the troubles the Fawnbrook girl’s family is having finding new housing in Twin and says: “It is almost impossible to find a place to rent because of the housing shortage due to the sudden crush of refugees.”
Sure, rentals are getting harder to find in Twin Falls, but it’s not because of a “sudden crush of refugees.” The College of Southern Idaho’s refugee resettlement center has been relocating about 300 people a year like clockwork for three decades — there’s nothing sudden about that. The rental problem has little to do with refugees and everything to do with our booming economy and the fact we’ve added 5,000 new jobs in the food-manufacturing sector alone and thousands of new residents who’ve moved to the area to fill them.
Geller writes: “Ruf told me: ‘In the last four months the demographics of our area have dramatically shifted and we’ve been profoundly affected by what we suspect is secondary migration. We locals intend to survey the population to discover the source of this massive influx.”
This should sound pretty bizarre to anyone who actually lives in Twin Falls. Does the city seem dramatically different than it did in March? And who, exactly, is being “profoundly affected” by this phantom influx?
Something terrible happened to that poor girl at the Fawnbrook Apartments. Scores of children in southern Idaho are molested or abused every year, and that’s heartbreaking. But Geller is using this one case to drive a sickening political agenda.
See, Geller wants the world to think Twin Falls is being overrun by Muslim perverts who are destroying our city. She’s made a career spreading such nonsense on the backs of communities like ours.
But her vision of an American apocalypse isn’t what I see happening in Twin Falls — at all. The Twin Falls I know is a welcoming community, where my wife and I feel perfectly safe raising our two girls.
We’ve never had to push through a line of Muslims waiting for their turn with a hooker when we visit the library. We live in a growing and prosperous city, where new houses and apartments are springing up every day. It’s a place where it’s easy to find a job, where people work hard. It’s a beautiful city, and I’m incredibly proud and lucky to live here.
I think most of us also feel this way. Do we have problems? Yeah, every community does. But they’re nothing close to the horrors Geller paints.
Geller had planned to visit Twin Falls this week and hold a rally on the courthouse steps, but she canceled. I guess it’s just easier to spread second-hand garbage on the internet instead of taking time to come see for herself.
Too bad. I wish she could have seen the Twin Falls I know.