Monday, September 05, 2005

People Too

I just remembered that there was something i wanted to say about the whole Katrina disaster, aside from the obvious expressions of outrage and sympathy and condolence that I'm sure the rest of the blogosphere is covering adeuately.

And I have 8 minutes left at this here cafe so forgive if this ain't too refined-like.

I was watching the press conference given by the Congressional Black Caucus, and one of the Congresswomen indignantly chided the media for referring to the displaced New Orleans residents as refugees. "Stop calling them refugees!" she said. "They are American citizens."

Now this rubbed me the wrong way. I know what she's saying, I think. That there is a connotation with refugees as this unfortunate detritus from far-off problems that we deplore but basically detach ourselves from. But, that's the whole problem. Refugees are citizens of countries too. They're innocents in the crossfire too. I had been thinking that this might be an eye-opener for America in some ways. NOw that we've had our own refugees, we can empathize in some closer way with the spectacle we're all too often faced with elsewhere. So this idea that, no, refugees are other people that are less special than our people seemed like at once a telling sentiment, and a missed opportunity. Of coure her agenda at the moment isn't global awareness for refugees, I understand that, but still. It was telling.


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