CAUTION: I am not going to be nice here.
A while back, Amanda at Wronging Rights wrote something about attitudes toward refugees that I feel is, sadly, very apt:
Refugees who make it to the developed world are treated like pickpockets: uppity schemers who reached out and grabbed relief instead of waiting humbly for someone to offer it to them.
Exhibit A, Ann Corcoran:
More distressing news from the British Isles this morning (see first distressing news here). Ireland is taking 78 Rohingya Muslim refugees. [...] I wrote about the camps at Cox’s Bazaar in my first post on Rohingya here. Note these camps are believed to be home to Islamic radicals. [...] So far the US is not officially resettling Rohingya (Burmese Muslims are here, it’s not clear if they are Rohingya), but Canada has. Note to the Irish authorities, don’t resettle the Rohingya anywhere near the Burmese Karen Christians, they don’t get along. Poor Ireland they thought their Catholic/Protestant “troubles” were bad. Just wait!
Ann, you stone-hearted waste of air, you have no idea what you’re talking about.
The Burmese refugee community is more united than most refugee communities in the US, with Burmese of different religions and ethnic groups living and working together, and helping each other adapt. In my personal experience, Christian, Buddhist and Muslim Burmese not only get along just fine, but are part of the same close-knit community. If there are a few extremists in a squalid, hopeless Rohingya camp in Bangladesh, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. There are, after all, a few extremists (of the ethno-nationalist, religious, or political varieties) anywhere you find large groups of people of any kind.
Furthermore, my mind boggles at how you can make the Rohingya (the Rohingya!) a special target group of your anti-refugee activism.
Here’s a journalist’s description of the largest Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh:
It is an obscenity, this camp, a festering hell of lost hope and inhuman squalor. No water, power, schools or medicine. Occasional stoop-labor jobs carrying bricks or making salt. Huts made of leaves and branches. There is no music.
“The worst conditions you could imagine anywhere on earth,” says a well-traveled international aid worker. “Total despair,” says another.
Oh! Oh! But there might be one or two Islamist extremists among those malnourished, traumatized masses! No sympathy for those dirty MUSLIM Rohingya. Muslim! Muslim! Muslim!
Go back to your pretty horses, Ann. Leave refugee issues to those of us with some humanity left.