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ChiTown
09-07-2005, 12:48 PM
so to speak.

Use of Word 'Refugee' Stirs Debate
Some Say Term Implies Evacuees Are Second-Class Citizens
By JOCELYN NOVECK, AP

NEW YORK (Sept. 6) - What do you call people who have been driven from their homes with only the clothes on their backs, unsure if they will ever be able to return, and forced to build a new life in a strange place?

News organizations are struggling for the right word.

Many, including The Associated Press, have used "refugee" to describe those displaced by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.

But the choice has stirred anger among some readers and other critics, particularly in the black community. They have argued that "refugee" somehow implies that the displaced storm victims, many of whom are black, are second-class citizens - or not even Americans.

"It is racist to call American citizens refugees," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, visiting the Houston Astrodome on Monday. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed similar sentiments.

Others have countered that the terms "evacuees" or even "displaced" are too clinical and not sufficiently dramatic to convey the dire situation that confronts many of Katrina's survivors.

President Bush, who has spent days trying to deflect criticism that he responded sluggishly to the disaster, weighed in on Tuesday. "The people we're talking about are not refugees," he said. "They are Americans and they need the help and love and compassion of our fellow citizens."

The 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention describes a refugee as someone who has fled across an international border to escape violence or persecution. But the Webster's New World Dictionary defines it more broadly as "a person who flees from home or country to seek refuge elsewhere, as in a time of war or of political or religious persecution."

The criticism has led several news organizations to ban the word in their Katrina coverage. Among them are The Washington Post, The Miami Herald and The Boston Globe.

"A number of people - from officials speaking publicly to colleagues here - said the term `refugees' appeared to imply that people displaced from New Orleans ... were other than Americans," Leonard Downie Jr., the Post's executive editor, wrote in an e-mail to his staff.

At the Herald, said executive editor Tom Fiedler, "it began to feel odd, describing people huddled in New Orleans' convention center as refugees. It felt inadequate to the situation. ... It wasn't as precise as `evacuees."'

And CNN has advised producers that "evacuee" is a better word, said spokeswoman Christa Robinson.

The AP and The New York Times are among those continuing to use the word where it is deemed appropriate.


"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."

The Times was adhering to a similar policy.

"We have not banned the word `refugee,"' said 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."

Columnist William Safire, who writes the weekly "On Language" column for The New York Times Magazine, said he did not see how the term "refugee" had any racial implications.

"A refugee can be a person of any race at all," he said. "A refugee is a person who seeks refuge."

He first suggested using the term "hurricane refugees." After thinking it over, though, he said he would probably simply use "flood victims," to avoid any political connotations that the word "refugee" may have taken on in the current debate.


09/06/05 22:41 EDT

:banghead:
WE ARE SO FN PC IN THIS WORLD IT MAKES ME SICK :cuss:

Goapics1
09-07-2005, 12:55 PM
The proper term is evacuee. It's as if one of the networks started this by saying "Refugee" and the others took it and ran..............................

NewChief
09-07-2005, 01:01 PM
I agree that evacuee is probably a "better" term, but this is about the stupidest thing people could be arguing about.

This is the kind of crap that academics sit in their ivory towers and debate...the way language frames our reality and shit. I know, I was one of them. Regardless, this is really stupid, imo.

ChiTown
09-07-2005, 01:02 PM
"A refugee can be a person of any race at all," he said. "A refugee is a person who seeks refuge."

I'd say these individuals were seeking refuge from the disasster, no?

Chris Meck
09-07-2005, 01:05 PM
I agree, it's silly. It's also arrogant. What they imply is that somehow because they're AMERICAN they're somehow better than people in other countries who are refugees. It's okay to call Sri Lankans 'refugees' but not Louisianans.
Weak.

go bowe
09-07-2005, 01:06 PM
refugee isn't the precise term because it connotates seeking refuge from violence or persecution...

both of which are man-made disasters which involve politics at some level...

go bowe
09-07-2005, 01:09 PM
"A refugee can be a person of any race at all," he said. "A refugee is a person who seeks refuge."

I'd say these individuals were seeking refuge from the disasster, no?when jesse was young and working in the civil rights movement, i had a lot of respect for him...

but for awhile now, he's seemed like a dumbed-down version of al sharpton...

refugee = racist = ludicrous

ChiTown
09-07-2005, 01:17 PM
refugee isn't the precise term because it connotates seeking refuge from violence or persecution...

both of which are man-made disasters which involve politics at some level...

There are a TON of definitions for what refugee means. However, if anyone thinks that it meant anything other than seeking refuge from their former home, they are warped beyond repair....

I agree that the connotation exists, but only b/c there are a-hole racists like Rev Jesse that exist.

Halfcan
09-07-2005, 03:04 PM
They really got pissed when Ted Koppel called them displaced brothers. And then to not sound racist said roaming white trash. I think the media has done more harm than good in this tragedy. I mean a guy is starving on his roof, the last thing he needs is a news helicopter putting him on national tv-not to mention throwing debris on him from the wind.