Thursday, September 08, 2005

Refugees or Evacuees?

The Brian Lehrer show on New York City's NPR affiliate has two guests who are debating the merits of using the word "refugee" or "evacuee" for those seeking shelter away from New Orleans. One of the guests is arguing that refugee is a word that carries negative connotations because it is typically used to describe non-white people suffering in third world countries. The other guests thinks both words are perfectly appropriate. I am wondering how much history we have forgotten. The French, Poles and others were described as refugees when they fled fighting in WWII ... it still seems to be a perfectly good (and unbiased word to me).

Watching the news the other day I did see a clip in which a black American said he was no damn refugee, he was an American. So perhaps the problem boils down to our self-image, Americans think of themselves as inherently different from others.