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Semantic Nitwits, er... Nitpicks

Amid all the criticism being lobbed at various parties in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Jesse Jackson and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are saying that the use of the term "refugee" is racist. Why? Because most of the--dare I say--refugees are black.


"Refugee" is a color-blind word. These people, many of whom are white, are seeking refuge from a one of the worst storms in history, for crying out loud.

From the Associated Press (via Yahoo! News)
"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."
Hear, hear.

Refugee certainly hasn't been used as a perjorative. And it certainly hasn't kept other Americans from opening their wallets and giving of their time and energy to benefit the victims of this catastrophe.

The problem, in my opinion, is that the word "refugee" connotes the Third World. That's embarrassing to the Rev. Jackson and to President Bush, who, from the same Yahoo article, said:
"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."
Of course they do. And our fellow citizens are showing them love and compassion and offering them help because they are American refugees. It's obvious to anyone who's seen pictures of the devastation and the squalor of those left behind.

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