Not refugees and not victims — ‘displaced’ or ‘survivors’ or even just ‘Louisianan’

Originally posted 9-3-05

I read an article in the local paper in which it was mentioned that the man being interviewed twice interrupted the reporter to say, “Just call us ‘Louisianans’ — we aren’t refugees.”

Then I had a conversation with a fellow pastor and career military chaplain and he mentioned that he gave a talk today to a group of volunteers advising them that the people they are working with are “survivors” and not “victims.” Names mean something. To call someone a refugee or a victim is to strip them of dignity. To make them “survivors” has a victorious feel to it. If nothing else, they are simply people who were “displaced” by the storm.

I think this is much more than just trying to be politically correct — it is the difference between seeing people as powerless people who must be protected and cared for and seeing them as people who have gone through a lot and simply need a helping hand for awhile.

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