Yesterday we received a comment from Jake a refugee resettlement employee from Chicago—a comment which gives me an opportunity to explain why we are here, so for that I thank him. Jake’s comment is posted here at the post I did as an update of the Somali/Swift & Co. controversy in Grand Island, NE.
My name is Jake and I work at a resettlement agency in Chicago. I appreciate the effort you put into your site and the prolonged attention you give to details in the media and to changes in our culture. I can tell that you and other contributors care deeply about these issues. Many people involved in the resettlement process (especially at higher levels) could learn from some of the points that you raise.
I appreciate Jake’s compliment, but wonder Jake, do you think those “people involved in the resttlement process (especially at higher levels)” would ever correct what they are doing wrong if there wasn’t some entity like RRW to push for change (only a few major newspapers are even willing to dance around the politically correct issue of refugee resettlement and expose problems)? We hear often from people within the refugee business who concur that there are problems at the top, but are they (you?) willing to speak out and demand some changes when your livelihood depends on those at “higher levels?”
At the same time, the attitude behind much of your language is upsetting to me because it’s racist and dehumanizing. In your efforts to keep tabs on and inform people policy and the agendas of different groups and political parties, you overlook what sits at the center of all that stuff: people. (Not just American people, either.)
I won’t get steamed about the “racist and dehumanizing” comment at the moment, but lets focus on the “overlook what sits at the center of all that stuff: people.” Well, Jake, my contention is that it is you who overlook the people and “dehumanize” them— the local people who have a culture, who have feelings, who have rights. Why do people in the refugee business not care for the local people, like this woman I just wrote about a few minutes ago here in Ohio?
As for the “racist” comment. It has nothing to do with race, but you guys always have to throw that word in as if you will get us to cower in fear—if you read RRW regularly you would know that it has nothing to do with race. As a matter of fact, if American blacks are upset by say Bosnian refugees being brought by your agency into their communities and competing with them for jobs and apartments, can I then call you a “racist” for supporting the white Bosnians to the detriment of poor African American citizens? It has to do with culture!
Frankly, I don’t care if what we say is “upsetting to you.” It’s time you faced the reality that not everyone agrees with your world view.
I invite you to convince me otherwise, but I believe that 99.9 percent of refugees are people seek nothing more than to live a dignified life while maintaining their cultural identity. This is a common value that all humans share.
“….maintaining their cultural identity. This is a common value that all humans share.” We agree. So, why is the poor American (no matter what color) told that they must sacrifice their cultural identity and bend to the demands, yes sometimes demands, of immigrant groups brought into their communities? Why is the immigrant’s culture placed on some sort of higher level then the local people? Is it just cool to be worldly?
Jake on Muslim accommodation:
In fact, you and your contributors prove this fact by your vigorous attention to immigration/refugee issues. The Somali factory workers who desire to practice prayer during Ramadan are doing the same thing you do when you warn people about refugee policies and issues. You value traditional American ideals and worry that multiculturalism is “changing the way we live.” Muslim refugees value their religion and culture and worry that they will not be able to hand those sacred things down to their children.
We are the first to say that Muslims have every right to practice their religion at home and at places of worship, but to demand that the entire workplace must be re-ordered to accommodate Islam is wrong. It is part of the “stealth jihad.” How about if I insisted an alter and crucifix should be placed at my secular place of employment, wouldn’t you be one of the first to scream bloody murder? It is very simple, either one takes time off work for religious obligations or gets another job. Imagine for a minute, that I should go to a Muslim country, hey how about Saudi Arabia, and ask to read my Bible in public, what do you think my chances are of going to jail for it? People with your worldview would think me an ugly American for even considering such a thing—reading a Bible in public in a Muslim country. Well, why should we tolerate demands for public religious accommodation?
Jake, with your “racist” comment above you have “villainized” and “stereotyped” us:
Just like you, they believe their way of life is in danger. Just like you, they take action to preserve it. You wouldn’t like it if people stereotyped and villainized you and called you a stealth jihadist for caring about your heritage. Please don’t do it to them.
Yes, they want to “preserve” their culture, but the difference is that I am not trying to “preserve” my culture in the midst of another country’s culture and expecting that country to change for me. And, frankly, I happen to think our American culture is superior to most, all!, of the cultures that are coming to the US and if that were not so, they would be staying in their part of the world and trying to improve it instead of beating down the door to get here.
So, I do appreciate Jake’s comment and really don’t mean to sound so nasty in response, but we are here to make people think. I know people in the refugee field believe they are doing good works and that sentiment is not unrecognized here, but we are here to show there are others who believe that refugee resettlement, as presently administered, may in fact be deterimental to America and at times to the very refugee populations themselves, and someone’s gotta say it!