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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
WHO IS A "REFUGEE"? Not one of the more important questions at the moment, but I'm very sensitive about a lot of language, and having mentioned this before, I note this set of views and this and this.
From the first:
Those who object to using "refugees" include President Bush, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the Reverend Al Sharpton, major relief agencies, and some major news outlets, such as the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, CNN, and NPR.
Mr. Bush, who has been heavily criticized for the federal government's handling of emergency relief efforts, spoke out yesterday against the word's widespread usage in the press.
"The people we're talking about are not refugees," the president said, according to the Associated Press. "They are Americans, and they need the help and love and compassion of our fellow citizens."
Mr. Bush's statement came after African-American civil rights leaders and politicians, particularly Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton, voiced objections to what they see as a racially offensive term. Rev. Jackson, speaking Monday on CNN, told his interviewer, Lou Dobbs, it was "utterly distasteful" for the press to call the victims refugees. "In fact, they are citizens," Rev. Jackson said.
On MSNBC, Rev. Sharpton rebuked the host Tucker Carlson for using the word, which Mr. Carlson called a "descriptive term." The word, Rev. Sharpton said, "gives the inference that they are not home citizens, taxpaying citizens, that are a victim of a catastrophe."
At the Astrodome in Houston, a temporary shelter for thousands of hurricane victims, volunteers are undergoing a six-minute sensitivity training conducted by the Red Cross, in which they are instructed to call the victims "guests."
One of those guests, Clara Rita Barthelemy, 50, who fled her home in St. Bernard Parish and has been living in the Astrodome, said in a telephone interview that she expressed her anger at being called a "refugee" in newspapers and on television to Senator Clinton when the New York Democrat visited on Monday. "Why are they calling us refugees?" she said. "I'm an American. I'm not running to Russia. I'm not running to China. I'm a victim of a hurricane."
While it may offend some, the word refugee accurately describes the condition of Americans who fled the hurricane and sought refuge in other cities and states, the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, Jesse Sheidlower, told The New York Sun.
"These people are Americans, of course they are. But they are in an extremely difficult situation," Mr. Sheidlower said. "And calling them guests doesn't change that. Calling them Americans doesn't change that, either. They really do need a lot of help."
Common usage of the word refugee, he said, is not necessarily restricted to situations in which people are politically persecuted or have crossed national borders, the way it is defined in international law under the U.N. 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
The second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary defines a refugee as "one who flees to a place of safety." The second definition says it refers "especially" to "one who flees to a foreign power or country for safety."
The executive editor of the Associated Press, Kathleen Carroll, said the wire service was sticking with refugee because it captures "the sweep and scope of the effects of this historic natural disaster on a vast number of our citizens." The New York Times, too, has supported its use.
For some relief groups, the destructive toll of the hurricane has bent preconceived definitions. A spokeswoman for the American Refugee Committee, Therese Gales, said the proper official term to describe the hurricane victims is "internally displaced people." Her agency, she said, has been using the word "evacuees."
Here, among many other excellent quotes, we find this:
The term has been the subject of much discussion on the Internet among members of the American Copy Editors Society, a professional group of media wordsmiths. Brian Throckmorton, copy desk chief at the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky, says his paper has stopped using the word in headlines and display type "to avoid provoking those who object to it, but our policy is that it is not a tarnished word and we're allowing it in body copy."
He added, "I do not agree with those who see it as an insult. In fact, I think they are insulting the world's asylum seekers by implying that it's shameful to be lumped under the word 'refugee' with people whose refuge is from other people instead of from nature...."
Which was very much my thought, too. And:
"The AP is using the term 'refugee' where appropriate to capture the sweep and scope of the effects of this historic natural disaster on a vast number of our citizens," said Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. "Several hundred thousand people have been uprooted from their homes and communities and forced to seek refuge in more than 30 different states across America. Until such time as they are able to take up new lives in their new communities or return to their former homes, they will be refugees."
"We have not banned the word 'refugee,"' said New York Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. "We have used it along with 'evacuee,' 'survivor,' 'displaced' and various other terms that fit what our reporters are seeing on the ground. Webster's defines a refugee as a person fleeing 'home or country' in search of refuge, and it certainly does justice to the suffering legions driven from their homes by Katrina."
My inner curmudgeon tells me that these people -- like me -- never gave a thought in their lives to the distinction between "refugee" and "evacuee," and that they're simply echoing the gripes of high-profile opportunists looking for wedges of division in this crisis.
But whether these unfortunate people are right about the permissible nuances of "refugee" and therefore justified in taking umbrage at its use, the fact is that, now, today, the word offends and angers many of them.
The word "evacuee" does not.
So it's an easy call.
The last thing anyone should want to do at this point is gratuitiously add to the anguish of these victims by shaking the Oxford English Dictionary in their faces and scolding them to accept for their own good terminology that, for whatever reason, rankles them.
Some will blast my retreat as a victory for PC-- political correctness. But the great columnist Roger Simon, formerly of the Tribune and Sun-Times, came up with an alternative term to invoke in such situations, CD -- common decency.
Common decency demands that we stop using "refugee" in this situation; that we recognize the pain our words are causing to others and not worry about winning a subtle argument over usage.
The same easy call applies to referring to ethnic and minority groups by terms that they favor and to refraining from the use of cartoonish American Indian stereotypes by sports teams.
Which is a fair point (and I won't digress into the story of the Indian tribe that is staunchly defending the use of such names; some other time).
I think it's clear that the people objecting to being called "refugees" are being ignorant and foolish in any literal sense. And I think detecting subtle racism in calling refugees "refugees" is pretty thin stuff.
On the other hand, if it's bothering people already in great distress, as is noted above, a discussion of definitions and usage isn't necessarily the best response at such a time.
On the gripping hand, I don't have any reason to think that there's a significant proportion of evacuees amongst the people reading this (though maybe more later than now).
So. If I run into an evacuee offended by "refugee" in the next couple of months, I'm unlikely to describe them as a "refugee" during that time period. On my own blog and online, I'm probably going to be apt to just use whichever word occurs to me, and to not worry about it much until the issue arises again. I'll be completely prepared to withdraw "refugee" and insert "evacuee" (or, if they prefer, "American") in any conversation, online or otherwise, with any evacuee. If some third party, on the other hand, wants to get all offended by calling a refugee a "refugee," I might argue, if I'm in the mood and have the time to waste.
Comments on this welcome; feel free to tell me I'm all wrong.
There's a purely technical/legal sense in which they can't be called "refugees" - according to the UNHCR definition "a refugee is essentially any person who is outside his home country owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons, of race, religion, nationality or political opinion" - this of course has little or no bearing on whether one ought to so describe someone in casual conversation-oh.
It's probably also far too narrow a definition in any case (although it's the one we're stuck with) - is someone who has fled from Iraq because of massive chaos and fear for their own life a refugee? (At the moment UNHCR says "no", of course there is probably a fair amount of political pressure on them not to recognize that there might be forces within Iraq at the moment that someone might need to seek refuge from, seeing as how it has been transformed by the powers of Dialectical Materialism into the new Worker's Paradise or whatever it is that the cool kids call it these days).
Yeah, I was going to go into the UN/international law definition, but plumb forgot. It's irrelevant, really, since the purpose of that definition is to rule on where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has jurisdiction, and for similar other legal purposes as to who is covered under certain "rights." It has no applicability to domestic refugees, who are still refugees, for whatever reason, even if not for the purposes of the UN or seeking asylum.
I think the cool kids are calling Iraq "close to hell" these days, unless they're busily praising all the freshly painted schools.
I suspect that the folks smacked down by Katrina taking umbrage at the word "refugee" are internally hearing other words when the R-word is spoken, words such as foreigner, pathetic and stateless - words which imply that the folks so labelled don't have any inherent rights or dignity that others must respect, but are merely the desperate recipients of the charity of others. Whether or not this interpretation matches any of our definitions of the word "refugee" is shockingly unimportant; something tells me those folks are a little bit too busy right now to consult a dictionary.
The trouble is, other words don't really convey the enormity of what's happened to them: That their old lives have effectively been wiped away by the Hand o'God.
Personally, as the grandchild of German-Jewish refugees, I've never had a perjorative interpretation of that word. But I guess the least the rest of us can do is leave it up to the Katrina-smacked to decide, at least this year.
Well, I guess that all depends: Do you think you can say the words "domestically challenged persons" without sneering?
Whether or not any of us outsiders dispute the word at issue, I think it's pretty clear what the objections of the Gulf Coasters are. They are struggling to preserve their last bit of dignity as human beings, after an experience which in many cases has stripped them of everything they called their own: Their homes, their jobs, their neighborhoods, their pets, their possessions, their churches, their pasts, and often their friends and families. That's a big part of the reason that the people who remain in NO are still there: If they leave, they leave behind everything that gives them any standing, any link to the larger society. They throw themselves on the mercy of the world; as we have seen over the last ten days, the world does not have a huge amount of mercy for people whose only claim on that mercy is a shared humanity.
Notice how many of the evacuees appearing on TV/radio start by saying: "I'm not on welfare; I'm a TAXPAYER", just as if they were Midwestern businessmen with crewcuts. What is this if not a claim of shared values, a claim that this person in muddy, torn clothes sleeping on a cot in a stadium is a person just like you?
So Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, America's most famous social ambulance chasers, have noticed that the overwhelming majority of people stomped by this hurricane happen to be black. Big deal. It happens to be true; the fact that Sharpton/Jackson noticed it just means that they aren't comatose.
"They are struggling to preserve their last bit of dignity as human beings, after an experience which in many cases has stripped them of everything they called their own: Their homes, their jobs, their neighborhoods, their pets, their possessions, their churches, their pasts, and often their friends and families. That's a big part of the reason that the people who remain in NO are still there: If they leave, they leave behind everything that gives them any standing, any link to the larger society. They throw themselves on the mercy of the world; as we have seen over the last ten days, the world does not have a huge amount of mercy for people whose only claim on that mercy is a shared humanity."
I think this, and your earlier remarks, are quite right, for whatever that's worth.