Refugees or displaced persons?

Here is an article today from the Houston Chronicle; another article about Iraqi refugees—this time in Egypt.  The article jumps back and forth between Iraqis who are happy to learn they are going home to Iraq, happy that Saddam is gone, unhappy with the Americans for not keeping them safe and unhappy because they can’t get to America or Australia this minute.  Frankly, it’s a bit hard to follow.   However, this line caught my attention and made me think about something Judy said the other day.

They do not look like typical refugees found in camps throughout the world. They are clean, well groomed and not starving.

That’s right they don’t look like typical refugees,  but those advocates in the refugee industry (and the liberal press) want you to have that image in your mind—the starving camp image.   These are displaced persons as Judy (and Derbyshire) said in this post yesterday.

Derbyshire notes that many of the people called refugees would have been called displaced persons in earlier years. I am struck by this, because the two terms have different connotations and sometimes call for different solutions. Ann and I have always advocated more emphasis on resettling refugees in their countries of origin or neighboring countries that have offered to take them in (and sometimes been refused by the UN agency). In the past, displaced persons were seen as a group that needed to be resettled in an ethnically similar place. For example, the ethnic Germans who lost their homes in other countries as a result of World War II were taken in by Germany. Nobody suggested that we should take in small groups of Germans and scatter them around our small towns. I’d like to bring back the term “displaced persons.”

But you see, the term ‘displaced person’, doesn’t illicit the same emotional response that ‘refugee’ does.  And, besides, the ‘refugee’ label is important because it entitles the immigrant to a grab bag of American welfare goodies when they get here.

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