You Are Now Free to Move About the Cabin

(M2D Newsletter 8/10)

Dearest reader, I’m the captain now!

So buckle your seatbelt as I take you on a journey around the world. Before takeoff, I’d like to call your attention to upcoming trips to Martha’s Vineyard and Greensboro, NC, where M2D will be landing soon.

Now to our voyage. The first stop is Washington where, on Tuesday, 270 officials from 42 states sent a letter to President Trump urging him to resettle 75,000 refugees in 2019. The chances of the president granting the officials’ wish is about as high as your purchasing of this slanket…

…or more accurately phrased (I bet you’ll buy the slanket when you learn that the model comes with it), the chances of a higher refugee cap in the U.S. are as high as young people suddenly supporting refugees in South Korea. What?!

That’s right, we’re off to Korea, where what you’d expect to be a progressive coalition has reacted with hysteria to the arrival of 600 Yemeni refugees. Stirred by “a poisonous conservatism,” a group of people typically more supportive of refugees, including millennials and high percentages of women, are reportedly reinforcing narratives that Muslim refugees are dangerous, drawing from a mixture of real and fake news from Europe.

A complicated situation, no doubt, made more complicated by a Korean public “that has become acutely sensitive to race,” but it’s worth pointing out that Yemen is now home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (You bought the discounted ticket so we are contractually obligated to stop here.) The Yemeni population has been decimated by civil war, and in the words of the UN envoy to Yemen, the conflict could soon become “Syria-plus,” which sadly is even worse than Syria-basic-economy.

A protest against a group of asylum-seekers from Yemen, in Seoul on June 30.

Last week, when I was not on this newsletter voyage with you, I attended an event where Dr. Willie Parker, an abortion provider and reproductive justice advocate in the South, said that “on this spaceship called earth, there are no passengers, only crew. We all have work to do.”

To this captain, his statement rings true. If Korea is anything to judge by, it’s not just people on one side of the political spectrum who are susceptible to ideologues’ villainizing of the voiceless; to varying extents, it seems most people are, and we all actively have to battle false narratives before they spread even further.

That battle begins at home, so don’t you dare stow your tray table or return your seat to the upright position. We have a long journey ahead and, yes, you can borrow my slanket.

Best,
Ben