To Mariam and Asla, America was both beautiful and pockmarked. But they believed in it, because here they became the people they were meant to be.
I enjoyed this article but I do have to take exception to a long standing bug a boo of mine. The author references a leftist named Rory who points out the "sins and ills" of America. Xenophobia, discrimination, economic disparities, loss of community. These are HUMAN traits and ills not American. ALL human societies since man has walked the earth suffer from these sins and ills. You can not eradicate them you can only try to minimize them through laws and custom. Do we have racial discrimination in this country? Yes. But much less than I have witnessed in Asia, Africa and western Europe where I actually encountered signs in restaurants in rural parts of France back in the nineties stating "no Africans allowed."
People who claim that the USA today id a cesspool of racism have no idea of what it's like around the world or understanding of historical realities. Great civilizations like the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Mayan, etc...accepted slavery, infanticide, ritualistic sacrifices.
If you want to analyze and criticize this country please do. But do it honestly and based upon human imperfections and histories. Not on some utopian fairytale.
First generation immigrants appreciate America--they have seen just how bleak the world can be, and that provides the necessary perspective to recognize how lucky they are to be here. Unfortunately, it's the native Americans, the ones who have never known anything else, who have never lived in a warzone or under real oppression, who convince themselves America not being perfect means it must be some kind of racist dystopian nightmare. It's a nation of spoiled children who confuse not getting everything they want with being abused.
I’m glad that they’re here in America. Our country is not perfect, but the opportunities it gives to people is what I love most. To me, we’ll always be the shining light of the world. Welcome and happy 4th.
Love being in a country with the Al-Khafaji family. I also love those tolerant of them; and I hold out hope for those that are intolerant of them so that they can change too.
That's the genius of America. Change and betterment is what this country has been about since before July 4th 1776. You can't have change without the pessimists and haters though. There will always be the persistent haters like the intolerant modern progressives. I hold out hope for them rather than hatred. It's just tough to see them relentlessly bang their heads against the wall, and I wish they would stop already.
It felt like a miracle to actually come to US from under the Iron Curtain in the end of 70’s! My kids were born Free and with endless opportunities and believe me, we never let them forget! And it’s true, people who live here for generations don’t appreciate America as much as we do because they forgot...and they do behave like spoiled children. Hard working Immigrants are the hope of this country!
It's the same story in Canada, where many home grown Canadians are on board with cancelling Canada Day (today) and the newer immigrants are all partying and waving Canadian flags.
"... and they changed the way they review refugee kids’ standardized test scores" So a little affirmative action DID help.
There is a lamentably gushy, Panglossian tone to this essay. The whole thing reads like someone exclaiming: "Look at these nice Muslims I found!" - which accidentally makes them sound like a rarity. Even the phrase "whip smart" is a backhander of a compliment because it amounts to saying "inanimate object smart". (Would anyone feel flattered to be told that they are "brick smart"?)
Such own goals blight not merely the article's style, but its content too. There are curious admissions, in which the author doesn't seem to grasp the implications of what he is saying. At one point he describes what follows when Mariam fails a college admissions test:
"I appealed to the dean of admissions, and they changed the way they review refugee kids’ standardized test scores, and she got in."
Translation: I moved the goalposts so that a failure could be turned into a success, without even having to re-take the test. Would this revelation make Mariam's own patients feel more - or less - confident about how qualified she is to treat their illnesses? After all, when Mariam "got in" to a class with a limited number of places, she would almost certainly have displaced a NON-refugee student who performed better than her. How is this grade-grubbing approach meant to make Americans feel better about the refugees in their workforce? (And, given that this was the very week in which the country's highest court ruled affirmative action in universities unconstitutional, the timing of this university lecturer's admission is awful.)
It gets better. In a peroration executed with a kind of flourish, the author tells us how the family will soon commemorate their long road to becoming US citizens:
"On July Fourth, the Al-Khafajis will celebrate their arrival in this country ... they’ll do what they always do on the Fourth. They’ll pile into the family’s Honda Odyssey and drive up to Buffalo ... There’s a Yemeni restaurant there that they like."
Translation: on the one day of the year when everyone around them is celebrating being American, these Arab refugees will plunge right back into Arab culture.
So much for integration.
Thanks for reminding me that despite all the disputes I'm aware of every day I'm lucky and should share my good fortune.
Jeff...you had me with tears, beautiful story with beautiful people. thanks.
A touching story of two sisters coping in America, which must be a faar different place than their native Iraq. I wish the writer knew more about their family. There is alwys tension between the old and the new in immigrant families, but none of that was touched upon here. As for the author's claim that the sisters sufferred increased hostility from strangers begining in 2016, I believe that was the time of Trump's election, all I can say is, really? Homeless veterans never snarled at women in hijabs before November, 2016? Oddly enough, homeless veterans have never been known to be particularly gracious or polite. In fact, their reputation is quite the opposite. But whatever.
here ya go.. great song and great pictures..coming to America.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ttDUGM-1mU. safe to open
My husband just spent a week in StVincent hospital in ERie and our experience was awesome! The staff, who are warm, friendly and bright, including many immigrants (possibly refugees?) were outstanding. Driving around Erie you can see it has had better days, but there are also signs of renovation and re-building. The region is beautiful and very good farm land, attracting a diverse range of Amish, Mennonites, and PHD grads dedicated to organic farming. Very diverse!
What a great essay!
It just goes to show you that if Americans illegally invade a foreign state and occupy for no reason, that a few lucky people can then come to the US and become part of our great nation. Let's not dwell on the fact that no American soldiers should have EVER been in Iraq in the first place. Obviously, the villain in this story is the unnamed Trump supporter...
I am so glad to be a citizen of a country that shamelessly lies to its own people, and the rest of the world, needlessly invades sovereign states but has the courtesy to let some of them come here and experience our generosity and largesse; all because we took the time to destroy their ancient capital, destabilize their nation and pave the way for a band of fanatics!
Go Liberals! Go America!
I wonder if college professors in the Roman Empire wrote this way about their conquered peoples...?