Emily Conrad: Politicization Of Refugees Needs To Stop

DENYING THEM HOMES IS DENYING OUR OWN HISTORY … || By EMILY CONRAD || I’d like to tell you about a country where 5.4 million people are estimated to have died since 1998 – a number of almost “Holocaustic” proportions.  The bloody conflict responsible for so many causalities may surprise…


emily conrad|| By EMILY CONRAD || I’d like to tell you about a country where 5.4 million people are estimated to have died since 1998 – a number of almost “Holocaustic” proportions.  The bloody conflict responsible for so many causalities may surprise some.  It is not Iraq, which has seen 500,000 deaths, nor is it the civil war in Syria, which has thus far produced 210,000 causalities. Likewise, an estimated 300,000 people have died in Darfur – while the well-publicized Boko Haram insurgency has taken the lives of around 11,000 Nigerians.

The nearly inconceivable number of 5.4 million deaths occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire. A vast country in the middle of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Congo has long attracted the attention of westerners: King Leopold of Belgium made the extraction of the country’s resources the source of his personal wealth.  Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was written following his travels in the country.  Cuban-Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara even tried to incite socialist revolution in the Congo – unsuccessfully, I might add.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo also happens to be the country of origin for the first two refugees who have been recently resettled to Spartanburg, S.C. (with the support of faith-based organization World Relief and local churches).  These are the refugees whose entrance has caused so much ruckus and rabble-rousing from elected officials, most notably U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy.

I will admit I have a clear motivation in writing this: I want to communicate my profound disappointment in a political system which is politicizing the unimaginable pain and suffering experienced by these refugees.  The politicians who have decided to question and cast doubts on the individuals entering our community are creating yet another politically insecure and potentially socially hostile environment for some of the weakest members of our global society; individuals who have experienced the most evil manifestations of humanity.

Personally, I find this behavior of our elected officials unacceptable.

While Gowdy’s so-called “scrutiny” of this refugee resettlement community might seem to be a non-issue at first, it comes at a high moral cost – undermining the very foundational pillars of our country.  As we look back on our own personal family trees and our ancestors who immigrated to the United States, we see countless narratives of political and/or religious refugees.

Indeed, the United States has historically taken on the role of a “shining city on a hill,” a role interpreted by such figures as Ronald Reagan as “a beacon… for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”  The United States has provided a stable home, full of limitless opportunities, to generations of refugees and their descendants.  To deny this same home to generations of new refugees and their descendants is to deny our own history.

Returning to the plight of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is no country in the world more deserving of our attention right now.  The same conflicts which have claimed 5.4 million lives have also led to an estimated 39 percent of all women experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives – either by civilians or military personnel.  The conflicts, which have involved no fewer than nine African countries and twenty rebel militia groups, can be divided into three separate, yet equally destabilizing struggles: (1) the First Congo War, which ended the 32-year-reign of the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997; (2) the Second Congo War, which began in 1998 and lasted until 2003; and (3) the ongoing militia fighting in eastern Congo, which has resulted in a widespread humanitarian crisis.

Even those not directly in the firing line in today’s Congo live in unthinkable circumstances compared to most citizens living in the United States.  The nation’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is around $700 – one of the lowest in the world. The average life expectancy is only 50 years of age.

It is time to stop making the refugees entering Spartanburg a political issue and instead start making it an issue based on people. The Upstate has historically been open to international refugees in need, opening up its doors after the conflict in Southeast Asia to Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians. I hope that Spartanburg residents (and Representative Gowdy) will come to recognize these incoming refugees as deserving and worthy of our compassion and generosity. Moreover, I hope that they will come to recognize these refugees as deserving of respect for the horrific hardships they have endured; their courage to leave behind their families and venture into the unknown; and standing strong in the face of continued adversity.

Emily Conrad works in communications for an international textile firm in Spartanburg, S.C. A Phi Beta Kappa Wofford College graduate, she is the founder of book blog, Global Book Challenge.


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tzartzar July 8, 2015 at 8:44 pm

I wonder why we never see Ukrainian refugees brought to America…

willblogformoney July 8, 2015 at 9:42 pm

They’ll vote Republican

SCBlues July 9, 2015 at 7:06 am

I am transgender like Jenner and vote Republican.

Smirks July 9, 2015 at 8:53 am

Morning Flip!

Flip July 9, 2015 at 10:23 am

Morning sir! Got any dogs I can marry?

sparkleicty July 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Ukrainians are already here = a number of Ukrainians run gift shops in Myrtle Beach

Squishy123 July 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

We have enough shit to worry about in this country without spending billions in some 3rd world country which will in time turn their back against us. It’s time for this country to stop building schools overseas when schools here are falling apart. And fuck 90% of this country’s EBT abusers, if they want to see how rough things can be, I say send them over there for a month and tell them we’ll give them an EBT card for a month, after a month and they haven’t found a job we’ll send them back permanently.

Trump Wants Obama N Prison July 9, 2015 at 12:43 am

Amen! Just alone, Obama giving the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt $1,500,000,000.00 of our money is criminal insanity. You can bet a lot of that money has been laundered to supply ISIS.

SCBlues July 9, 2015 at 5:26 am

“And fuck 90% of this country’s EBT abusers . . .”
So you DO like to fuck GT and Pogo I see!

Redneck Orgy July 9, 2015 at 10:26 am

You should see what one of their hootenannies are like.

Brian Hanson July 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm

But just think, if we could get the wealthy to actually pay taxes and get wealthy corporations to stop off-shoring profits, we could afford to fix all of our problems, as well as have more than enough left over to help a few refugees refugees. We only take in about half of 1% of the world’s refugees each year.

Squishy123 July 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Cutting handouts to able bodied people would do just as much.

Bible Thumper July 8, 2015 at 9:16 pm

You will never see me comment against legal immigration, both for needed skills or for hardship cases. But their is nothing wrong with Gowdy and the public asking questions and raising concerns. Some of the settlement efforts in the past were of such size that they have destabilized communities others enrich the community. Some knew of this plan but others have been taken by surprise.

SCBlues July 9, 2015 at 5:24 am

“But their is nothing wrong with Gowdy and the public asking questions and raising concerns.”
“Their” what?

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2015 at 8:48 am

(hero pointing out grammar mistakes in a comment to an article)

Jackie is a Child July 9, 2015 at 10:25 am

(doesn’t get it was a joke)

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2015 at 10:47 am

(bad at jokes)

SCBlues July 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Just plain stupid more than likely.

SCBlues July 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm

LOL – Well, my stalker up-voted you – runs around upvoting anyone who it thinks is insulting me – too funny!

Brian Hanson July 9, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Its fear-mongering disguised as asking questions.

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm

(he lisped)

Bible Thumper July 8, 2015 at 10:11 pm

On ETV World: House debate live.
The House has voted not to table an ammendment to the Senate flag removal bill offered by Rep. Quinn. The ammendment only provides for proper handling of the removed flag by the Confederate Relic Room above the Senate requirement. This could delay passage, causing it to be sent back to the Senate to concur, but more likely a conference committee requiring the Senate and House to vote again. But the ammendment hasn’t been adopted the ammendment yet. Rep.Ott preposed a joint resolution as a substitute.

CorruptionInColumbia July 8, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Ms Conrad may wish to open her home to some of these refugees. She does not appreciate that constant violence and alternating cycles of famine and over-breeding have gone hand-in-hand for centuries. People from these area more often than not, bring the violence and behaviors that made their homeland a living hell with them when they come here. How dare people like Trey Gowdy speak out against bringing these problems to our communites, neighborhoods, and door steps. Perhaps Ms Conrad will be fortunate enough to witness a female circumcision or like quaint custim from that part of the world if she gets her wish and some of these “fugees” wind up as her new neighbors or maybe room mates.

Rinnywv August 23, 2015 at 8:40 pm

That would solve this problem tomorrow if we would put all these people in the neighborhoods and private schools of all the people and organizations bringing these people here. Good posting.

RogueElephant July 9, 2015 at 8:39 am

I wonder if Ms. Conrad would invite the refugees into her own home to live ? It is easy to put these third worlders into someone else’s neighborhood . Let’s see how genuinely generous these do-gooders really are.

Aaron M. Ringel July 9, 2015 at 10:39 am

I think she would.

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2015 at 9:14 am

“While Gowdy’s so-called “scrutiny” of this refugee resettlement community might seem to be a non-issue at first, it comes at a high moral cost – undermining the very foundational pillars of our country. As we look back on our own personal family trees and our ancestors who immigrated to the United States, we see countless narratives of political and/or religious refugees.”

This is an odd conclusion. First, merely questioning a law or policy-even a law or policy enshrined in the constitution- does not undermine it. To say that an elected representative cannot question a law or policy does, however, undermine the fundamental idea upon which the United States was founded- that a people should be free to govern themselves. Governing yourselves includes being able to question and debate policies and laws regarding who you let in to be part of your citizenry.

Secondly, just because the US did things a certain way in 1787 does not mean that it’s a policy that should be followed in 2015. Example, one of the “foundational pillars” of US immigration policy was that only white people of moral character could become citizens. Just because the US had a certain immigration policy when it’s population was below 20 million and there was plenty of land to steal from the native americans doesn’t mean that policy should remain the same 225 years later when the country is 330 million people and the country is completely settled.

Third, changing a policy away from a policy that existed historically does not “deny our history.” That’s nonsensical. We have a perfect right to set policy for ourselves. We owe no obligation to follow immigration laws set by congresses in the past.

In sum, your argument can be boiled down to “WE USED TO DO IT THIS WAY, THEREFORE WE MUST CONTINUE TO DO IT THIS WAY.” This is not a justification for a policy, law, or any decision really. We are not slaves to history.

Brian Hanson July 9, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Again, fear-mongering is thinly disguised as merely “asking questions”. Second, most Americans’ ancestors would probably not have settled here if people had been able to block entry of groups they had prejudices about – Catholics, Irish, southern Europeans, Asians, Jewish people, etc. Third, the present fear-mongering is directed against the Muslim refugee victims of Muslim extremists/terrorists, while the majority of refugees coming here are not even Muslims. Upfront costs of resettling refugees, the world’s most vulnerable people, are constantly harped on by the anti-immigration/anti-refugee crowd, while the long-term economic benefits of these new arrivals – in income taxes, social security taxes, retail sales tax for homes, cars and other purchases, as well as the refugees’ labor for jobs most Americans reject, etc. – is never mentioned.

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2015 at 2:54 pm

First, calling something “fear mongering” isn’t an argument against it. Maybe that sort of tripe argument works in the Huffpo comment section, but not here. Calling something fear mongering is the intellectual equivalent of “that’s stupid.” Refrain from using such labels in the future.

Secondly, your second point is literally the exact same point as I addressed in my first comment. Your argument in favor of this immigration policy is “we used to do it this way.” Again, that’s not a substantive argument in favor of a particular policy. Some people’s ancestors wouldn’t have been here but for slavery, but I don’t think you’re suggesting we bring that back. Just because something was done in the past is not an argument in favor or against a policy, law, or opinion.

Thirdly, you seem worried that Gowdy is asking questions out of concern of Islamic terrorism, then admit that the only reason the refugees need to come here is because of Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorism is either a threat to the US or it isn’t. Given what these refugees have allegedly gone through as a result of Islamic terrorism, I don’t think it’s “fear mongering” for a representative elected to serve the interests of his electorate to ask some questions about the process of ensuring that we aren’t letting in people that could be sympathetic to Islamic terrorism. It’d be a shame if we brought a bunch of refugees fleeing terrorism into the US only to also bring their tormentors in right behind them due to lax screening.

Finally, it’s certainly appropriate to raise concerns regarding the cost of bringing people to the United States. There’s more than upfront costs of refugees coming into the US. Once a refugee is here, they’re entitled to medicaid, SNAP, Medicare, SS, SSID, healthcare, and their children are entitled to attend public schools. You mention that these refugees pay income tax, SS tax, and all the various other taxes. However, you provide no hard real numbers that refugees are, in fact, a net gain, or even budget neutral at the end of the day. Again, an elected representative certainly has a right to ask questions about how his electorate’s money is being spent.

Toyota Kawaski July 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Thank You Chris Hanson

sparklecity July 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Thoughts on human migration:
You can’t stop any multi-cellular biological organism from migration, you can only delay it
The world of Soylent Green is just around the corner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brian Hanson July 9, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Only if we continue to burn hydrocarbons are the Arctic ocean’s ice pack melts, Greenland’s glaciers melt, Antarctic ice shelves collapse, world’s oceans rise, and each year is the new hottest on record.. Helping to lift people out of poverty is proven to reduce population increases.

CorruptionInColumbia July 9, 2015 at 2:03 pm

… and likewise, reproductive responsibility can reduce poverty brought about be breeding yourself into oblivion.

Toyota Kawaski July 9, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Thank You Mr. C Hanson

Todd July 9, 2015 at 12:28 pm

No thanks. Keep African genocide in Africa. There are 2 billion sob stories on that continent, we cant help them all. Send money, send troops, (send condoms!) to try to keep the peace but we have enough victim classes in the US already.

Brian Hanson July 9, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Compassionate conservative – an oxymoron.

Toyota Kawaski July 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for all you do for little boys everywhere Chris Hanson.

CorruptionInColumbia July 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Amen to your post!!!!

west_rhino July 9, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Geez, La Raza will be on them for stealing illegals jobs next, cause these Congolese ARE Legals.

Philip Branton July 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Well….My Dear Emily, obviously you may know some about communications but may be very limited in your understanding of political signals intelligence. When you find time to read some books concerning the castles along the Rhine River and why they were built and fought over…. you may come to some sort of reasoning behind the Congo’s plight. We are certain that some executives at Atkins Machinery understand the tools required for pipelines and easements going from South Sudan thru the Congo over to Nigeria..!! We wonder if you can do some digging and determine if any of Atkins Machinery supports the Oil infrastructure that pimps bribes to all sorts of mischief conducted by Boko Haram or any despot around the world..!? Does it not take textile machinery to produce all those Oil Well worker uniforms..? Boko Haram uniforms…? ISIS turbins..?

Emily, would YOU go to a country and declare “My textiles came, My textiles saw…..and textile machinery bribes will lead to GENOCIDE..?”

Tazmaniac July 9, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Ms Conrad if you would spend a month in Minneapolis in the “Little Mogadishu” section and re-write this same article I would suggest you be mentally committed. Lil Mog is the largest concentration of Somalians in the world including anywhere in Somalia. Check out the third world crime that goes on there.

Toyota Kawaski July 9, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Communicate this: U and your INTERNATIONAL TEXTILES are one of the reasons this country is going down the drain. Feel free to relocated the sweat shop to the DRC

Jackie Chiles July 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Better title for this article: recent college grad bored with job answering phones at textile plant mad that someone responsible for something asked questions.

Mohammad Izzaterd July 9, 2015 at 6:26 pm

You cannot be more wrong. The refugee racket is a multibillion $ industry, and you know nothing about it. You should spend a day at ‘refugee resettlement watch’ at to discover what this disgusting racket is doing to our small communities. Refugee resettlement has been hijacked by liberals and progressives and is used to suck big money out of the govt. and destroy local communities and introduce unassimilable aliens into them. Did you know most CEOs of these non gov organizations (NGOs or volags) pretend to be charities but many draw salaries exceeding $500K annually. Did you know that refugees are immediately put on the dole (wic, tanf, sec8, etc, medicaid, ssi, ssdi, etc)? Did you know that the money spent to bring one refugee to the US could provide much needed services for 1000 displaced persons in their own homeland? No of course you didn’t because you have been drinking the progressive koolaid.

Christina Jeffrey December 19, 2015 at 11:36 am

Do you know that the SC Legislature and Nikki Haley created an opt out provision for counties that prefer not to participate in the Refugee Resettlement program? Six counties have opted out already: Pickens, Berkeley, Aiken, Anderson and Greenville (by a unanimous vote of the country). There’s one more but I am not remembering it now – oh yes, Laurens!

Rinnywv August 23, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Now that I have read all about the plight of these refugees, I would like some honesty on what happens to the neighborhoods where most of these UN CHOSEN refugees your organization is dumping in small towns and communities all over this country. Why is it YOUR organization is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring these people here, 90% of which are Muslim! and then we end up paying for everything in their existence because as refugees they are entitled by our laws for every welfare program under the sun. Also, these people are told not to assimilate, to keep their own culture and then they start bringing all their relatives over here. After all, isn’t that what these communities are, “seed” communities in order to colonize America. Why are most of them Muslims? Where are the Christians being butchered and beheaded on a daily basis? Wouldn’t they fit in more with our society? You are trying to do to America what you have and are still doing to Europe! Stop with the refugees from hostile countries especially since the FBI,states they are unable to vet these groups for terrorists.


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