As I write this, folks in Burleigh County are enroute to a 6pm commission meeting in which commissioners will vote on whether to continue allowing Lutheran Social Services (LSS) to resettle refugees within their jurisdiction. As I explained over a week ago, due to an Executive Order from President Trump, states and local jurisdictions must now be consulted on the issue. With Governor Doug Burgum signing off, all that’s needed in Burleigh County is the okay from commissioners.
Originally, this issue was to be considered a week ago. But turnout was so large that not everyone could fit in the room. That meant the meeting wasn’t considered open anymore, and it had to be rescheduled for a larger venue.
As I explained yesterday, a lot has happened since last week’s meeting. One of the most unfortunate is how some people continue to categorize anyone who opposes — or even questions — resettlement as somehow being influenced by racism. It’s a ridiculous assertion.
Unfortunately, implying or outright calling someone a racist for opposing resettlement isn’t really a surprise. The reality is that this is a horribly divisive topic and emotions tend to run high while addressing it. Claiming racism is just a lazy attempt at shaming opposition into the shadows in hopes of gaining victory in the end.
If those who throw around such unsavory epithets would simply step back for a moment, and attempt to think rationally, they might just come to realize that this has nothing to do with race or hate at all.
Suppose, for a moment, that an acquaintance from a neighboring community approaches you and suggests — perhaps even demands — that you house a family that’s come upon difficult times in their lives. Their story is indeed a sad one. The family essentially has little to nothing. They’ve been displaced from their home.
The problem is that there’s only so much space in your house. And you don’t exactly have much room in the budget to take on the added burden of another family. Not only are you already dealing with your own challenges, but you also have extended family who need help, and you’re trying to figure out a way to do it. Uncle Joe recently lost his job. He has no place to live. Your oldest is preparing for college. What about them?
To make a long story short, you just can’t see your way through it— and you say no. Family comes first. Does your refusal make you hateful? Not at all. You mean no ill will towards these people. Heck, you don’t even know them. The reality is that you’re simply not in a position to help.
Now, admittedly, there’s a lot more intricacies to the subject of refugee resettlement, but the correlation remains true. Opposition to resettlement doesn’t mean hatred for refugees anymore than wanting to care for your own family first means you hate others who are in need. It just isn’t so.
What’s often lost in this discussion is the fact that we — the taxpayer — are the ones who foot the bill for resettlement. It’s true that many of these folks get jobs, settle in, and become “contributing members of society”. But what about the ones who don’t? Who pays for them? That’s right— us. And in case you haven’t noticed, we have plenty of issues to deal with already.
When we have issues regarding the care of our veterans, struggle to house the homeless, and are constantly dealing with space and funding issues in regards to education already; is it completely unreasonable to at least understand why some folks draw the line in the sand and demand that we take care of our own first? I don’t think that it is.
Yet, for some reason, there’s people who just don’t get it. They’re apparently so focused on being “charitable” with other people’s money that anyone who opposes them is the enemy— and a racist and hateful one at that.
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