Buffalo, NY: “Compulsive Optimism” is too nice a sentiment

I didn’t see the first part in this series on Buffalo, NY refugee resettlement, nor have I seen the film (Nickel City Smiler) that caused the ruckus.  But, I know the story already.*  It seems that the resettlement agencies working in Buffalo were not happy with being portrayed somewhat negatively in the film.   Film co-director, Scott Murchie, calls it their “compulsive optimism” that keeps agencies from really addressing the problems refugees are apparently having in Buffalo.

It’s really compulsive lying at its core.  These government-funded agencies are in deep trouble if the refugees don’t make it—both with the US State Department and with PUBLIC OPINION in the media (and those two things are linked because the State Dept. avoids negative publicity at all costs).    It is imperative that the One-World activists who drive the program portray a multicultural wonderland in American cities and towns and frankly maintaining that image at all costs works to the detriment of their struggling refugee “clients.”

From Buffalo Rising:

The West side of Buffalo has been getting a lot if attention lately, mostly for the beatification efforts targeting its abandoned lots, underdeveloped business sector, and landmarks rampant with graffiti. The documentary Nickel City Smiler, which focuses on Karen refugees, is trying to bring attention to the West Side of Buffalo and the refugees that populate it. After the film was released, it received some negative feedback from Buffalo’s refugee resettlement agencies, since the film didn’t portray them in a very good light, and inferred that “bureaucratic posturing” is yet again preventing business from keeping its promises.

Scott Murchie, co-director of Nickel City Smiler, says to bash or ignore the film is to take part in what he calls “compulsive optimism”, or pretending everything is fine when in reality it is not.

“The whole perception, the way Buffalo is portrayed in the film is sickening,” said Molly Short, director of Journey’s End Refugee Services.

“The refugees who are featured in the film offer constructive criticism that is based in real, every day experience,” Scott says. He believes the agencies are trying to ignore situations in which refugees are not succeeding.

I’m not sure yet if compulsive optimism has helped our struggling city or not. Nice words are not usually used to describe Buffalo, so it is a nice change to hear some compliments about it. Compulsive optimism only gets in the way because it often causes ignorance of problems that need to be fixed, like the ones portrayed in the film.

By the way, this piece says the agencies are audited regularly—-only if that means about every 5 years and those are “program” audits, not financial audits.

* Check out Bowling Green, KY, another city where Burmese Karen refugees were left in the lurch.

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