Monday, March 31, 2008


Yeah, that's right, I loves me some Wyclef and Pras but I'm talking today about another issue entirely.

It is worth reflecting on the US policy regarding war refugees in light of this weekend's passing of Dith Pran. After the Vietnam conflict ended, Mr. Pran was part of an emigration from SE Asia that saw an approximately 1.4 million people resettled in the US.

Let's contrast this policy with today's climate.

According to this month's Harpers, Iraq represents the largest mass exodus in the Middle East from a war torn country since the Palestinian crisis of 1948. One fifth of Iraqis have fled their homes. 2.5 million are displaced within the country and another estimated 2.5 million have left for Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iran and other Gulf States. Syria has taken on the largest volume of that burden with over 1.5 million people now having fled there.

How many Iraqis have moved to the US?...not many.

385 applications for asylum by last year's count.

So, why is there not more help to the poor folks we invaded? The rationale is varied and large. One party line reason for refusal is that there has been such a broad re-categorization of what a terrorist is defined as being.

Let's say that you have paid a ransom for a relative to one of the dozen militias who may have kidnapped your uncle, which, ahem, happens a lot. If that is true then you've given material support to a terrorist group, ergo, you're a terrorist and you're persona non gratis at the corner 'Murkan Wal-Mart. Seems about right for the Cheney Administration, eh?

In any case, Mr. Pran was a brave soul whose fearlessness and artistry was ultimately rewarded with the promise of another life in America. Not so nowadays. How fitting that once again in the land of fear and privatization that our State Department will allow few to none of this diaspora to relocate to true freedom. NIMBY Nation.

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