SEVERE WX : Winter Storm Warning - Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

What Tucker Carlson and Chris Hayes get wrong about migrants

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson exploded in an anti-immigrant...

Posted: Dec 25, 2018 12:14 PM
Updated: Dec 25, 2018 12:14 PM

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson exploded in an anti-immigrant tirade earlier this month, calling some Central American migrants currently seeking asylum in America "cynical shakedown artists." Last week, Carlson's liberal antithesis, MSNBC's Chris Hayes, reacted to the plight of people at the US-Mexican border, tweeting, "How much do you have to believe in the promise of America to walk 1000 miles with your children, get tear-gassed at the border, and *still* want to come live here?"

Carlson's rant, which sparked an ongoing boycott among advertisers, was typical xenophobia. Hayes, however, is an ally of immigrants and refugees who's covered the issue with compassion. And yet, his statement shows just how little Americans know about asylum seekers.

Continents and regions

Embassies and consulates

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations

International relations and national security

Misc people

North America

Refugees

State departments and diplomatic services

The Americas

Tucker Carlson

United States

"How did you get the courage to come here?" American friends would ask my mother after learning about our journey to the US. Mom always smiled and changed the subject. How do people get the courage to jump out of a burning building?

Every refugee, save for those born in transit camps, once had a life. My family did too, in a city called Kharkov in Soviet Ukraine. My mother was a doctor; my father an engineer. We had cousins, friends, favorite restaurants. We lived in an apartment block with lilac trees in the yard. We lived under an anti-Semitic dictatorship, but it was still a life.

In 1989, when I was 9 years old, communism began to collapse. Anti-Semitism surged to a point where it was no longer safe for me to go to school. There was unrest in the Baltics and the Caucasus. Finally, rumors of nationalists planning pogroms swept through Ukraine, and that was enough.

Three days after setting out from Kharkov, we were being herded by humanitarian workers around a train station in Vienna. We had 10 suitcases, almost no money, no citizenship status, and no contacts in the West. A thousand anchors once tethered me to the world, and suddenly they were gone. Over the next six months, we stayed in various Austrian shelters alongside tens of thousands of other refugees from Yugoslavia and the USSR, while we waited for America to decide our fate.

The feeling of standing in nondescript rooms in the US Embassy, watching my father plead for asylum with bored immigration clerks and being prodded by equally bored quarantine doctors is something I'll never forget. I don't think any refugee can. The American clerks, the doctors, and even the humanitarian workers trying to help us were in Austria because of their jobs. They were still anchored to the world; they could always go back. We had no such luxury. Even the idea of the asylum interview was stacked against us. We had to interview to continue to exist.

"Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?" the great Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote. We prayed they could. Every time I stumbled out of the US Embassy, it was with a renewed appreciation of the concept of Judgment Day -- standing exposed and naked before unmovable powers, imploring every god, man, and saint you're not found wanting.

There were other moments of terror during our time in limbo. There were angry Austrians shouting as we tried hitchhiking along frozen mountain roads, and on one day my mother and older sister were detained by police for peddling matryoshki nesting dolls to locals. During those times, I would feel my parents' eyes on me. The panic in their gaze would upset me and I couldn't understand why they always focused on me.

When I became an adult, it finally hit me that during those six months of being stateless, they, just like other migrants, lost the ability to protect their children. The journey to America exacts many prices, but for a parent, that's perhaps the costliest.

But that's not to say there wasn't laughter and dancing as well. Refugee camps and migrant shelters crackle with gallows humor seen among soldiers and emergency room personnel -- people who live at that strange intersection of the horrific and the absurdly hilarious. I remember dancing on New Year's Eve because someone got their hands on a tape deck and declared there was no reason we couldn't ring in the New Year just like everyone else.

The Austrian hotel owner supervising the camp got into the spirit by giving us an extra meal and handing out chocolates for dessert. The tape deck spat out songs in a language we didn't know. One woman told anyone who'd listen she was going to open a chic hat boutique in Brooklyn. A pair of red-headed brothers huddled together making plans for a plumbing business in case they ever made it to Detroit.

And almost everyone danced. We danced to stay human. We laughed because it beat back despair. And we dreamt of America because America gives people new lives, and we were all in the market for one.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154062

Reported Deaths: 2194
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31723527
Washington21001211
Marion18279284
Clackamas13289175
Lane10127124
Jackson8224110
Umatilla761481
Deschutes592258
Yamhill374564
Linn354956
Malheur333958
Polk301642
Klamath276854
Douglas240252
Benton230316
Josephine230349
Jefferson194127
Coos140119
Union127119
Columbia124121
Wasco121926
Lincoln112520
Hood River106129
Morrow104114
Crook77918
Clatsop7766
Baker6467
Curry4116
Tillamook4092
Lake3746
Harney2716
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00
Eugene
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 36°
Corvallis
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 37°
Roseburg
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 38°
North Bend
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 42°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events