[-empyre-] Welcome to February 2016: Across borders and networks: migrants, asylum seekers, or refugee? The Numbers Now and The Number Then

Cynthia Beth Rubin cbr at cbrubin.net
Tue Feb 9 14:46:30 AEDT 2016

Thanks for this discussion - usually a lurker, I am particularly interested in this discussion as I currently have quite a bit of contact with refugees coming into the USA, and of course 

Babak - I appreciate your comment that Europe was already in turmoil during/after WWII - although it is difficult to understand the impact of that, I would like to think more about this.

I am confused, however, by the comment on cultural difference.  It was not the mainstream (heterosexual, non-Roma, non-Jewish) Polish middle class that was the target of extermination, thereby making the lucky ones refugees. The population that was targeted during WWII was in fact considered culturally different by enough of the population that they were marginalized to the point of being put to death.  That is precisely the point.  

One hopes that we do not confuse the acceptance that gays, Romani, and Jews have found in Western Europe and North America in 2016 with what they faced in Europe (East and West) in 1935 - 45.  One thing that we have learned from history is that hate and mistrust from difference can be overcome, but lets not imagine that the cultural differences were not significant then because they are not considered significant today (at least in certain circles).

Assessing difference is difficult and dangerous.  Many Syrian immigrants are educated, use computers and iPhones, and like some of the same things as your average Dutchman.  They bring with them the potential to rejuvenate cultures with new ideas, and a generation or two later you might just see them as “middle class.”  Oddly, attempts to not be racist sometimes could be construed as racist from a different perspective.


Cynthia Beth Rubin

On Feb 7, 2016, at 9:21 PM, Babak Fakhamzadeh <babak.fakhamzadeh at gmail.com> wrote:

> Yet, there are also significant differences such that just looking at
> the numbers is not fair to either event. During the second world war,
> Europe itself was in turmoil, whereas surrounding the Syrian refugee
> crisis, the turmoil is wholly happening outside of Europe's borders.
> Second, the differences between Syrian refugees and, say, the average
> Dutchman (which of course doesn't really exist), now, is probably
> bigger, and occurring on a wider scope, than the differences between,
> say, the Czech and, say, Polish middle class during or close to the
> second world war. It's simply easier to reconcile oneself with others
> who are more similar than with those who are more different. That's
> not a matter of being racist, it's human nature. To go beyond that, to
> step over that prejudice, if you will, takes effort and has to be done
> consciously.

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