Correction: Una Hardester reports that Mr. Serjanej is not a Muslim, so I have made that correction. She reports that he gave workshops to both Congolese and Iraqi refugees on this subject of violence to family and pets and that such behavior was unacceptable in America. Thus some members of those ethnic groups he was trying to reach may be other than Muslims.
Be sure to read Mr. Huston’s comment to this post—a comment which I have posted here as well.
Just now I was going through old e-mails and assorted alerts not planning to write anything else today and looking forward to my summer reading of Ayn Rand when I saw that someone was writing about us—RRW. Well, it wasn’t much about us. It was mostly about young naive refugee workers not wanting to hear the truth when it didn’t suit them— didn’t fit their politically correct notion of how the world should be!
Now Americans tend to be very ethnocentric, idealistic people and therefore the way they deal with people who tell them things they don’t wish to hear, particularly if these things don’t fit their ethnocentric ideals is often interesting. At times, they will go so far as to argue with people about things they know nothing about if these people have experiences that don’t meet their idealistic view of the world.
The lawyer in Peter Huston’s* post is a man I wrote about here last summer. He is an Albanian who I had fun writing about when he told his audience of new immigrants and refugees that it wasn’t acceptable to beat their wives and dogs in America even if that was something one grew up with in one’s own Islamic culture.
Artan Serjanej was a 43 year old former refugee who put himself through law school and then volunteered at the local refugee center to teach refugees about their rights in the USA as well as the importance of not beating one’s wife or dog.
His remarks got my attention as I mentioned, and prompted my “not necessarily nice comments” as Huston says. Of course I was commenting on male dominated (often Islamic) culture that doesn’t sit well with us—conservative women with our world view. Liberal women, on the other hand, seem to be able to chalk it all up as cultural relativism when they aren’t busy trying to hide the reality of Muslim misogyny altogether.
Anyway this is how we get drawn into this post:
He made some comments to the local newspaper to the effect that some refugee men came from places like he came from (the Muslim country of Albania), where it was acceptable to beat one’s wife or children and that therefore he was doing his best to tell them it wasn’t acceptable here and keep them out of trouble.
Sadly, the Daily Gazette in Schenectady now has a paid-only reading policy but if you’d like you can read the comments he was quoted as making here at Refugee Resettlement Watch: HERE! Now, Refugee Resettlement Watch is an interesting blog that contains much useful information but they clearly have an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda. Therefore this article is also mixed in with the bloggist’s interesting but not necessarily very nice comments.
If you are now saying, o.k., get on with the story, this is the part that has me rolling on the floor laughing.
It does look like although Serjanej’s comments are undoubtedly the truth as he sees it, and I’m quite inclined to accept his opinion in this matter as he undoubtedly knows more about Albanian culture than I do, they could have been better chosen.
In response to these comments, Una Hardester, 22 year old idealist activist, and her companions, insisted that since Serjanej’s comments should not have been voiced as they were not consistent with the view of the world or the view of refugees that they wished to promote. Therefore they did not invite him back to participate in any more programs. Their programs were now sanitized and politically correct. The cultural gap between some refugees and the young American activist community was again preserved! Oooooh Rah! Mission accomplished!
Seriously, did it ever occur to you humanitarians that by silencing Serjanej you may now be responsible for violence to some women and children whose husband’s and father’s do not get his message about what behavior is unacceptible in America.
*I see we mentioned Peter Huston’s blog here in June.