Our Refugee Future
By Linh Dinh
16 September, 2015
16 September, 2015
During the current refugee crisis in Europe, it is said that there are many imposters among genuine refugees from
When the Vietnamese boat people fled Communism after the Vietnam War, the percentage of men was also extremely high. Many families could only afford the smuggler's fee for a single member, and so often the oldest son would be dispatched on the arduous and perilous journey. It was hoped that this individual might become a stepping stone to get the rest out, or he can send desperately needed money back home. There is always an economic reason behind a refugee crisis. People flee because they can no longer make a living due to a tyrannical government, foreign intervention or evil ideology, not just bombs falling.
During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese only became internal refugees, but after Communism had triumphed, they fled overseas because many could not tolerate living under a twisted ideal concocted in
There are Pakistanis in
Already wearing a T-shirt flaunting some retarded English, sporting a Cowboys or Yankees cap, listening to Hotel California or Lady Gaga and mispronouncing phrases of the lingua franca, your average car mechanic or street peddler in Ranchi or Accra will see the West, all of it, as a locus of power, opportunity and wealth, as an ideal, so of course many wouldn't mind moving there if given a chance. Still, it is quite an exertion to do so, and the ties to one's homeland is not something to sever so casually. It often takes extreme violence to eject a person from all that he's known and loved, and here is where the
The West violates borders, then cringes when its own are ignored. Of course, no one wants to see his society turned upside down. This upheaval could be arrested if only the West would stop wrecking other peoples' homelands, but this won't happen. On a planet of exploding populations, dwindling resources and contracting economies, war will only become more pervasive. Many players, Western or otherwise, will instigate it in all corners of this exhausted earth. Massive refugee flows will be the wave of our near future. The mess in
I'm a refugee, and so are my entire family. My parents became refugees twice. They fled
Days later, my grandfather placed my 11-year-old ass on his lap and rather testily said, “Who cares if other people are leaving, you're staying here with grandpa, right?”
Of course, it wasn't my decision to make. My father, a lawyer and ex congressman, had already arranged for his secretary, me and my five-year-old brother to evacuate with a Chinese family. One of their daughters had been employed by the Americans, so they had a way out, but since they didn't want to lose their considerable properties to lunge into the unknown, the parents and younger kids stayed behind, and that's why they could sell three spots to my dad. It was the gravest of mistakes. Within weeks, they would lose everything anyway.
Giving me money, my father said, “Two thousand bucks should last you a year.” American bills, I noticed, were less colorful than Vietnamese ones, though longer and crisper. After sewing this cash into the hem of my blue shorts, made of rayon and extremely hot, my grandmother advised, “Whatever you do, don't take these off,” and I didn't for nearly a month. I didn't trust the secretary. Later, this cantankerous woman would become my stepmother. Sickly birthed by history, it was a disastrous marriage.
Three of us, then, left with false papers, but no refugee ever gives a shyster about legal niceties. Before being bused to the airport, we stayed at an American compound for four days. Already,
The war had come to me only through the media. Open a newspaper and you would see VC corpses lying in disarray. Turn on the radio and you could hear how our side was winning. In the middle of the war,
I had been on a plane just once before. A huge military transporter, the C-130 only had a handful of tiny windows and no seats. People were sprawled all over the floor. I saw a kid eat raw instant noodles. When we landed, it was pitch dark and I heard “Guam” for the first time, but this meant nothing beyond the fact that we were no longer in Vienam. Where to go from there, then do what, no one knew.
A huge tent city was going up, and that's where I stayed for a week before being moved to
On April 30th, my father fought his way onto one of the last two ships to leave
Forty-three-years-old when he arrived in the
In 1975, a huge number of ordinary American families sponsored Vietnamese into their homes to assist them with assimilation. This extraordinary fact is totally forgotten, but just think about that for a minute. A black family in
If mere immigrants can sometimes pose as refugees, many refugees are also mislabeled as just opportunistic fence jumpers. Near my
Recently, I met in Wings and More a 36-year-old Mexican. Humberto is a beefy dude with moustache, whisker and slicked back hair. On his arms are tattoos of the Virgin of Guadalupe, “Hecho en
Leaving behind a wife and two children in
In 2003, Humberto returned to
“My wife, she was an angel. She still is. She was my everything. I came to the
Humberto has spent 17 years in the
“I said to my mother, ‘Don't die before I can see you again.'”
Besides me and Humberto, there were six other men, all Mexicans, in Wings and More that day. “Humberto, there are never any women in this bar.”
“I know. They cannot come in because they get attacked.”
He didn't mean that literally, of course. He just meant these lonely drunk guys would pay her way too much attention.
Fights do break out there regularly. Cops have been called.
When Vicente Fernández' “Por tu maldito armor” came on the juke box, Humberto sang along with tremendous feeling, “Por tu maldito amor / No puedo terminar con tantas penas...”
You must be pretty desperate to leave your wife, kids and mother behind to work a series of low paying jobs in a foreign country for years on end, maybe for ever, but there are millions of people like Humberto all over the US and, of course, all over the world. With NAFTA,
Just as “free trade” and Globalism have wrecked the American working class, they have also ruined the most vulnerable of
Count yourself lucky if you're allowed to thrive in your native environment, a place you've been groomed for since birth. Too many of us, though, have been forced to reinvent ourselves to somewhat fit into one or even several alien environments. There are those, though, who welcome being uprooted, and since this destiny is becoming increasingly the norm, it won't hurt to consider some of their survival techniques. Two blocks from my door is The Dive, where Pascal bartends.
In his own words, “Pascal was born in 1965 in
Pascal has been working as: a sex worker, photographer, musician, cameraman, plumber, waiter, bartender, set designer, prop designer, costume designer, bondage master, actor, art restoration, social worker, heating technician, driver, radio and club DJ, music producer, master craftsman, guilder, painter, etc…
Dirty Frenchman his a bohemian, he traveled at early age and lived in many European cities doing things most people would not do to survive. He always had an appetite for new and out the ordinary experiences.
Today Dirty Frenchman is considered has a pervert from most of the people he talks to. He dislikes fake boobs, American porn, meat heads and women without natural smell. He love to eat and sodomize a nice hairy butt hole.”
So there you have it, to survive in the years ahead, you must be flexible, resilient and, when absolutely necessary, even illegal, but preferably without hurting anybody. You must also evolve a technique for dealing with assholes. They're multiplying.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.
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