National shame

This is a disgrace.

After the Vietnam War, the United States resettled 1.4 million Southeast Asian refugees within its broders, the largest such resettlement in the nation's history, but the US has hesitated even to acknowledge the current crisis in the Middle East. This reluctance to respond rests on a narrative of impending triumph. A 2006 State Department report found that "changed conditions" in Iraq "have expanded the possibiities for refugee repatriation," and added it is hoped that significant numbers of Iraqi refugees located throughout the Middle East and Europe will soon be able to return home." In 2007 the State Department acknowledge that an "explosion of sectarian violence" had led to widescale displacement within and from Iraq," but maintained nonetheless that "the primary goal continues to be to support efforts to create conditions that will allow Iraqis to return home." Later that year, the administration even campaigned against a bipartisan initiative to create a special immigrant visa for Iraqis who now worked for US organizations and found their lives endangered. That initiative eventually passed Congress, but the plight of former US employees, particularly translators, remains the sum total of the discussion of the crisis within American media and political circles.

The result is that, although more than 30,000 Iraqis were resettled in the United States after the 1991 Gulf War, only 3,775 Iraqis were granted entry between the beginning of the 2003 invasion and the end of January 2008.

. . .

For many Iraqis, it is Sweden that is the promised land. When Leif Eriksson assumed responsibility for migration at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus in 2005, he was assured that it would not be a demanding posting. Since then, however, his country has emerged as the only Western nation to accept large numbers of Iraqi refugees . . . In all, more than 115,000 Iraqis have made their way to Sweden since 2003, and the great majority have been granted asylum.


Sweden? Sweden? A country full of a few million excessively blond people is taking in more Iraqis than the country whose beloved national icon is inscribed "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?" We're being beaten by Sweden? I don't even know where to begin. Let me reverse Michelle Obama: for the first time in my life, I'm utterly ashamed of my country.

I'm in favor of more open borders generally, of course, but at least that's a valid debate. Refusing to take even a trickle of the people displaced by our invasion is a deep stain on our national honor that anyone, left or right, should be eager to erase.