Letter to Kojo Nnamdi Show re: Refugees and Nationalistic Bigotry

September 8, 2005
Letter on "Refugees and Nationalistic Bigotry"
The Kojo Nnamdi Show

James Landrith
PO Box 8208
Alexandria, VA 22306-8208

September 8, 2005


I've always loved your show and as they say, longtime listener, first time writer.

Today on your program the topic of use of the word "refugee" came up. I believe the question was answered by Astrid van Genderen Stort of the United Nations. Begging to differ with Ms. van Genderen Stort, but the word "refugee" is not the property of the United Nations. It is based on an Old French word "refugié" of the root Latin refugium. The definition of a refugee is actually "one that flees." The definition given by Ms. van Genderen Stort is the politicized recent (in historical terms) U.N. version, which is not the traditional version of the term. Further, the term "refugee" was used extensively in prior natural disasters in the United States:




This recent objection to the traditional use of this word (not the U.N.'s politicized version) smacks of nationalistic bigotry and a manufactured controversy. It is as if Americans are "too good" to be associated with such a term.

Quite frankly, its demeaning to refugees everywhere when we pretend that we as Americans are superior and incapable of being described as "one who flees." It gives the impression that refugees are inferior and that seeking refuge is shameful and makes one dirty. And as a long-time civil liberties and human rights activist, I am quite disgusted with this development.


James Landrith
Founder, Pious Pagan Publishing

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