Last week, an Aberdeen resident wrote to the Aberdeen American News audience saying we shouldn’t call her ignorant and racist for opposing the resettlement of refugees in Aberdeen.
This morning, the Aberdeen American News issues a brilliant rebuke, pointing out that a lot of the comments it receives blasting refugees is truly ignorant and racist:
As of this writing, there are 93 comments on an American News Facebook thread about this topic. Many if not most are negative to the resettlement concept. Some comments are grossly wrong, and some are truly offensive.
What is being lost is a sense of decency and respect for people who are suffering around the globe, and for the South Dakotans who genuinely want to help.
Could those opposed ever step back far enough to admit that, yes, helping others is a worthy goal, and this idea comes from a genuinely good place?
With that acknowledgement, some common ground and real sensible solutions might be found.
We know the community groupthink is capable of these nuances. This is the same Facebook commentariat that, just weeks ago, reminded us that those accused in a local high-profile drug case — white South Dakotans — are “innocent until proven guilty.”
Refugees, on the other hand, are assumed to be something else altogether.
The word “refugee” conjures up stereotypical images: vaguely Middle Eastern, possibly Muslim.
The truth is that the vast, vast majority of these people are just people like us, only in desperate need of help and relief [editorial, “Three Things to Know About Refugee Conversation,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.05.01].
The editors refer here to the April 14 arrest of upstanding white funeral home directors James and George Schriver on drug and DUI charges. Police searched the funeral home and found marijuana, meth, seventeen firearms, and no refugees or forged immigration papers.