I don’t know how many of you are following the discussion on-going here at another comment worth noting.* Commenter Ellen spoke forcefully about her frustration with an overload of refugees in Ft. Wayne, IN. Then another commenter, whose name is “Reader,” responded critically with the usual flagrant attempt to silence critics by impugning Ellen’s character. After some back and forth, which you should see if you haven’t already, comes another commenter, Rohan Swee, with a brilliant comeback.
But, it’s more than a comeback! What Rohan says sums up much of our thinking at RRW. I only wish I could say it half as well!
First “Reader” says:
“I have noticed that native-born Americans have a VERY short memory.”
Rohan Swee’s response:
No, Reader, you haven’t “noticed” any such thing, because you can’t “notice” a non-existent phenomenon. You aren’t “noticing” anything, but rather giving expression to your belief in the smug, lazy-minded, and convenient fiction that only the ignorant or the “haters” could possibly disagree with your views on this issue.
“Native-born Americans” are not, as a matter of fact, unaware of their own ancestry and the history of immigration in this country. Seriously, would you take one minute to ponder how silly your claim, and every straw-man that follows from it, is? It does not take immense erudition or unusual intelligence to reflect that times and circumstances change, and that refugee or immigration polices that are appropriate at one point in history might not work as well at other times – something I think any sane person ought to be able to recognize – and that decent people can disagree about what those optimum policies for a given time and circumstance are. The history, hardships, and success of your or my immigrant grandparents at a certain juncture in history are not necessarily relevant to setting contemporary policy. I doubt you’d really be on board with the “classical” immigration policy of grandpa’s day that you’re so wistfully invoking, as it was no-aid, “sink or swim”, and upwards of 50% of immigrants had to go back home because they couldn’t hack it. So how about letting go of the childish and self-serving falsehood that people disagree with you about this and related issues because they either don’t know, or are strangely in denial about, nigh-on universally known points of fact, or because their personal qualities of compassion and justice are just so inferior to your exalted self’s.
This endless, vacuous invocation of “but your ancestors were immigrants”, as if that is all one needed to know, and as if it were a fact that rendered all opposition to your viewpoint obviously misguided, is beyond lazy and thoughtless. And it is getting very, very tiresome.
“What offends me at core of my being is the accusations made against resettlement workers who give their heart and soul to their work and refugees who only are seeking a safe place to live that actually presents them with an option for a future.”
The fact that you immediately leap to personalize the issue – my heart, my soul, my personal experiences – exemplifies the sheer emotionalized mindlessness that befogs this debate. Your personal compassion, dedication, or whatever is irrelevant to whether our current refugee programs are prudent and sustainable, or imprudent and damaging. It’s not all about you.
Reader, there are millions of people on this planet in the same situation as the unfortunates you work with. We cannot take them all in, and our first obligation is to our own. The fact of their misfortune does not give you, or any unanswerable agencies, some unimpeachable claim to arrogate policy-making to yourselves, on the basis of self-alleged superior compassion.
Rohan, whoever you are, thank you so much for putting into concise language what we have been trying to say with thousands and thousands of words over the span of more than 2 years.
* Comment worth noting is a category we set up some time ago to highlight comments that we thought needed to be more prominantly posted or they would be lost to new readers.