Jennifer Ludden's moving story of an Iraqi refugee finding work, support and kindess in Billings, Montana - I had the odd experience of finding myself seething. How dare NPR run this kind of folksy, feel-good story about one Iraqi refugee while it does virtually nothing to report on, investigate and expose the criminally negligent US response to the Iraqi refugee crisis that its invasion and occupation created.
I'm happy that there are people of goodwill who will help out an Iraqi refugee in the US, but good God, where is the attention to the 4.7 million Iraqi refugees displaced by this war of choice? Where is the focus on the heartless and inadequate assistance and resettlement that the US has provided for this humanitarian mess of its own making? It's not as if the problem has gotten better since the UN statistics were released in September of 2007; Amnesty International issued a scathing report on the Iraqi refugee crisis just this past June.
I was angry because I was being had. Like a good pickpocket, NPR is trying to strip us of informed outrage. It wants to distract us with a story that is notable for how little it represents the experience of most Iraqi refugees and how little information it contains about the scale of the problem and who is responsible for creating it. It takes advantage of the humanity and decency of listeners, trying to leave us feeling moved and reassured about a case that is the exception, while - of course - leaving us less informed than ever.