The good news is most of the comments on the article are, well, good, even if there are only three comments. But as Meatloaf said, two out of three ain't bad. But naturally, it's the third one that got my attention.
It speaks to the cesspool that is the Internet that initially, my reaction was, "Oh, that's not that bad," because honestly, yeah, it could be a lot worse. That said, "it could be a lot worse" doesn't mean this person should get a free pass for being ignorant.
This article is ridiculous. I've lived in Scottdale for 32 years, and I had no idea these women were here. I have never once seen them out and about in town, let alone heard anyone speak ill of them. I guess when you refuse to be a member of the society you live in and things don't go your way, you can just accuse the entire town of being racist.This is infuriatingly stupid. Let's break it down.
First, the commenter is implying that because he's never seen or heard about this women, this whole story must be bullshit, but that's not how the world works. There are plenty of people out and about all around us we never interact with, even in the same small towns, and not knowing who someone is after an article like this is published doesn't make the article "ridiculous" or somehow untrue or misleading. Just because you didn't personally witness something doesn't mean it didn't happen, and in any other scenario, most of us would recognize that such an assertion is absurd.
But I think the most frustrating thing for me is the second half of the comment, and it's partly because this is such a common yet unfair criticism of refugees--that they're being troublesome, can't assimilate, and are crying discrimination because...I don't know, honestly, because these statements make no sense to me.
I think often, when people here complain about things like refugees who refuse "to be a member of the society you live in," they forget that refugees are coming from an entirely different country with an entirely different culture. We cannot and should not expect refugees to completely forget their cultures, traditions, and way of life in favor of our own, and at that, none of us have done that anyway. Take a look at your own family and their customs. Chances are, you hold on to certain things that are relics of your ancestors' culture. For example, my wedding is fast approaching, and we're incorporating plenty of my family's Polish heritage--we're doing a bridal dance with a polka and an apron to receive money from guests and we're playing the Polish version of "Happy Birthday," called "Sto Lat," for an uncle whose birthday falls on the wedding day. My grandfather used to use Polish/Hungarian words and phrases around the house. My aunts and uncles all polka. And yet, by some of these absurd standards, all of that might be considered "refusing to be a member of society." Refugees shouldn't be expected to shed every speck of their life before they came here. Instead, we should accept their differences, especially when they're not doing anyone any harm.
But even more troubling is the fact that this commenter either missed the entire point of the article or thinks this family is only speaking out for pity, which is unlikely. First, the issue was not that the family couldn't assimilate--and again, we need to rethink the expectations we put on refugee families--but rather that they were targeted for their background, in some cases based on misconceptions rather than fact. Being turned down for jobs and explicitly told it's because of where you're from isn't a result of your behavior, it's xenophobia, plain and simple.
This brings up another point that happened to come up on a Twitter account I follow recently, but it's a very strong belief I've had for a while now that I was glad to see repeated--it is not up to us to decide what is or is not racist, xenophobic, or discriminatory. I as a white woman brought up in a middle-class Catholic household did not have the same experience as, say, a woman of my same age who is black or Jewish or Muslim. It wouldn't be fair for me to look at someone experiences that I cannot relate to and never will and decide that their complaints are invalid. This commenter is being dismissive and callous, frankly, by suggesting this is all a reaction to "things not going their way." This family is speaking out about downright unacceptable treatment that drove them from a town in our community, and rather than take a step back and think about how they feel, what they must be going through, or how our own words and actions affect people, this person, and I'm sure others, are instead choosing to turn it back on the family and find a way to blame them. I suppose that's easier than owning up to one's own prejudices and acknowledging that there are some very mean, ugly people living in your town making life more difficult for someone else.
I'll end this post the same way I ended my previous post on this subject--by asking you all to be less judgmental of people of different religions and races than yours, especially when dealing with refugees, who are looking for safety and stability. Be good to each other. Be compassionate and kind. Give people a chance. We all have the opportunity every single day to make the world a little brighter and life a little easier for someone else, and there's not a single good reason why we shouldn't try. So do it.