Seeking Refuge From The Easily Offended

On a discussion list I frequent one poster asked: “Can you believe these people calling citizens refugees?”



Seeking Refuge From The Easily Offended

by James A. Landrith, Jr.
July-October 2005

Yes, I can. Given that “refugee” actually means “one that flees” according to Merriam-Webster (and has meant that for decades) not *just* one seeking refuge across international boundaries. The form of refuge sought is not limited to another nation or simply on the basis of political persecution, although that is the most often used terminology in THIS country. The “international boundaries” definition is the politicized version of the definition spawned via the United Nations.


False claims by Jesse Jackson and others that Americans have never been called "refugees" in past disasters need to be answered. This is an overt lie, being used to enflame people's emotions for the political gain of a few. Screaming "racism" when the facts do not support it is wrong and diminishes the meaning of the word "racism" itself.


Some of this outrage sounds suspiciously like nationalistic bigotry. Its almost as if folks believe that American citizens are so much better than “those people”, meaning political refugees from other nations. I wonder if this controversy over a perfectly acceptable human rights term would even exist if not for the fact that the majority of the population in New Orleans is non-white and that certain individuals need to create controversy in order ensure they get extra media attention? Of course not.


It reeks of making special exceptions and objections to terminology solely on the basis of skin color and nationality. There is nothing racial about seeking refuge. Further, by elevating Americans above all others, a select few American civil rights leaders have created the unfortunate appearance of superiority and arrogance and projected the nasty impression that certain American civil rights leaders view non-American refugees as dirty and shameful.


And maybe that’s the whole point.


Further, the term has been used often in the past with reference to hurricanes (hat tip to Michelle Malkin):

…Refugees seek refuge. It’s a commonplace description by newspapers, which used it to describe the victims of Hurricane Andrew.

Hurricane Charley (via Nexis):

Associated Press, August 27, 2004 Friday, “Charlie Refugees Stay in Temporary Campers”

And Hurricane Frances:

Hurricane Frances menaces Florida; refugees head to NC

And Hurricane Ivan:

South Texas Welcomes Hurricane Refugees As Thousands Flee Ivan

Associated Press, September 16, 2004, Thursday, “Arkansas overflowing with Ivan refugees”

In other words, it has been okay to use the word "refugee" when referring to the majority white and Latino populations impacted by Hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Andrew. It only magically became racist this week (and only because certain celebrity civil rights personalities told people they should be offended) when used in an equal manner to describe a population where the majority is black. Of course, the talking heads and celebrity civil rights personalities appearing on TV and in print enflaming people's already overworked emotions will never admit the above.


That would make them liars.


That very concept in itself is the height of racist condescension. Those promoting it should be ashamed.


Unfortunately, those in the civil rights industry (who must have controversy to fill the coffers) and self-serving pundits claiming that the media is involved in a racist conspiracy to label black individuals in Louisiana as the only Americans ever to be called refugees have been proven to be liars in light of the evidence above. The very fact that white/Latino majority populations have been labeled as such via countless hurricanes should serve to cast considerable doubt on the intentions of those who claim otherwise. It is plain that certain individuals are using this tragedy for political gain and media attention.


And they will continue to tell the lie as long as it benefits them and so long as enough print and broadcast editors continue to suffer from lack-of-spine-itis.  Opportunists never let the truth get in the way of a free, guilt-induced media fundraising campaign.

James Landrith is the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist and The Abolitionist Examiner, two cyber-rags dedicated to freedom from oppressive racial categorization. Landrith can be reached by email at: or at his personal website/blog.


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