September 2, 2005


When was the last time Americans were called refugees?

There's an old Woody Guthrie song "Dust Bowl Refugees":
Yes, we ramble and we roam
And the highway that's our home,
It's a never-ending highway
For a dust bowl refugee.
Once drought made Americans refugees. Now it's water.


DirtCrashr said...

Tom Petty has a more recent song where you don't have to live like a refugee. ;-)

XWL said...

I'm not sure who was first to complain about the term but more than a few amongst the professionally agrieved are saying that the term refugee is racist. I assume they say that because the majority of refugee crisis around the world have been in undeveloped nations involving people of color.

Of course the example you cite shows that the term refugee has been applied to white Americans in the past and is the word most people first think of when describing displaced persons, and the fact that being displaced and being dark-skinned have a positive correlation in recent years should be irrelevant when applying the term.

Also those Okies and others that Guthrie sang about didn't have it easy and weren't welcomed with open arms in the communities they resettled to (mostly in California).

When the same thing happens to these people it won't be racism but the usual basic xenophobia that inhabits the dark reaches of the human soul.

So long as no single community is expected to absorb too many of these refugees I think we as a nation will welcome the majority of these people with open arms, and they will be encouraged to intergrate themselves into their new communities rather than to return to a N.O. that will be permanently changed (and just like the Okies will eventually become an integral part of the communities they find themselves in and a new group of people will settle into the New New Orleans)