Open Arms In Oklahoma?


The little i'm arnold hamilton editor of the oklahoma observer. And i'm marianne martin and this is observer. Cast your weekly deep dive into oklahoma politics policy powered by the oklahoma observer. Democracy foundation the first of about eighteen hundred afghan refugees who resettled in oklahoma began arriving last week. Welcome by catholic charities of the diocese of oklahoma city the oklahoma chapter of the council on american islamic relations. It's notable heartwarming. Really that of the first group of about thirty seven thousand afghans coming to the us. Oklahoma will be home to the third largest contingent behind only california and texas. Even so you can imagine how. How difficult in really wilder. It's likely to be to start over here. Oklahoma a world away from their homeland. Our guest on this week's server cast adam sol. Tony is on the front lines of helping our new neighbours adjust to live in oklahoma. Adam has been director for nine years. The oklahoma chapter of the council on american is long relations. He's also among other endeavors adjunct professor in religious studies at all state university chair of the uncle conference. Churches religions united committee and a member of the interfaith alliance of oklahoma board. A a former. Kansas adam has now spent most of his life here in oklahoma. He's a graduate of edmond. Santa fe high school who went on to earn a bachelor's degree from ucla and a master's from the university of oklahoma. And i saw today at him on social media that one of your first orders of business is to try to help. Our new neighbours speak and understand oak. Absolutely you know. People don't realize i mean that is an whole separate language category right. I mean seriously. They don't understand y'all you know a fix into right. I mean so. I actually a friend of mine. It's funny what you were referring to arnold. A friend of mine sent me from pakistan of all places but he actually went to school here at university of central oklahoma so he sent me that where you know you go from you. All are not all the way the yankees right and only okays give that. Yeah absolutely they need to know the culture of our state just as much as they need to learn english. So so what's the first in all seriousness. Sort of the first order of business in trying to help people adjust what a chaotic experienced. This undoubtedly has been for folks sure. Yeah i mean. None of us probably earliest. Most of us can't even fathom right. The idea of leaving our homes and leaving everything. We have our possessions life as we know it and going to a completely new land right many of us travel for pleasure but we're not forced to abandon everything and start over so that's one thing in additionally i mean we have to take responsibility as a country that what happened when we pulled out of afghanistan when president biden said. It's time to go and you know people have been mad at him for doing it. But i mean he didn't start the war either riots. so essentially at some point troops needed to leave We had to kind of end the twenty year war quote unquote war on terror. If you will and when that happened unfortunately the infrastructure that was put in place was not strong enough and this group taleban who has extreme thoughts and views and abuses the beautiful religion of islam in order to try to control people which is really the definition of of terrorism. Right as somebody who uses fear in order to gain political points you know our political or socially motivated as so the point is we can't even fathom what they're going through ride the fear. They have the uncertainty. They have not knowing where they're going to. And that's why i think it's it's something special. That governor stick came out you know. This man surprises me all the time i mean. Sometimes he's a textbook republican. And i say that as somebody who represents a nonpartisan nonprofit organization but sometimes he goes against the grain and i was really pleasantly surprised that he said no. We're going to accept them. This to me is not just something that a responsible conscious americans should say. But if you really wanna talk about this oklahoma standard which people say is debatable. Whether or not we truly represented or not. That's how you do that. You know by saying we will. We have the resources. We're seeing that right now. We have The land we have the support of the local and federal government. We're going to bring these people in and we're gonna make oklahoma home for them. I have a question so How how well part of. What kind of compelled this conversation was one. This is very important to our state right. I think it reveals a lot about our character in a lot about our shortcomings as well response. Is it really kind of puts it all on full display but I want delve more into like the background of it not necessarily know rehashing twenty years of of this war but You know over one hundred thousand afghans evacuated very suddenly very quickly you know how. How were they designated those who could evacuate Just since oklahomans can have a sense of these are our neighbors is a who are neighbors will be because it just worries me. It doesn't worry me i. It infuriates me disgusts me. The way they've been cast by certain people we know who i'm talking about. But how did these afghans come to evacuate their homeland. Well you know that's a great question. I mean we have to recognize that. You know twenty years ago or a little bit under twenty years ago when when former president george w bush said you know we have to protect our borders. We have to protect national security and we chose to invade two nations right afghanistan iraq we have to recognize that impart from a very political standpoint. That was done under false pretenses. I mean we went into iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction and twenty years later. We never found him right and we all well we have to. So the next thing was we have to get rid of saddam hussein. Because he's such a terrible person. Well guess what in twenty or thirty years that. Saddam hussein was president of iraq. He never harmed in american. He was terrible to his own people. Right he did not go after. Americans or america and in fact if you go back into the ninety while the eighties and nineties the united states government provided saddam hussein with the firepower to fight iran. Because they didn't want they were upset with you know the ayatollah khomeini and then the hostage crisis and the islamic revolution. So i think we have to look at all these elements and put them. It's you know. We have a very selective amnesia in america. And i think proof is in the pudding right. I mean look at what we've done is a state in oklahoma. It took a hundred years since the tulsa race massacre for us to finally have a semi public conversation about it and finally four to start getting into oklahoma history curriculums and still. We haven't done a great job of really talking about it and highlighting the reality of the circumstances that that impacted us as a state one hundred years ago that are still impacting us now. So same thing right. We don't look at what we did. You know in certain countries and then we we have to go invade them. We have to go tear their country apart. We have to tear their government apart. We have to you know really. What's the word. I'm looking for dislike. Cause trauma on innocent bystanders which is a majority of the people ryan same goes for afghanistan. I mean the central intelligence agency the cia basically funded the tall on in the nineteen nineties nineteen as in nineteen ninety s to fight against the russians. I mean these are facts. I'm not this is not a conspiracy theory right so all that means said you know the people that are coming out of afghanistan now. These are people. Allied was the united states government that helped to fight against extreme groups like al qaeda and the taliban that had nothing and wanted nothing to do with osama bin laden who he wasn't even an afghani he was a saudi national. That ended up in afghanistan. Right so these poor people have been stuck in the middle of basically an extremist group and a western government and and they just are trying to live a life. Just like any of us you know. Raise their families feed their children. And at the end of the nigh be able to put their head on their pillow and and sleep peacefully. But we don't get that because we tend to look at countries in the middle east or africa for that matter and we look at third world countries. We you know. Have this Presumption that they have a backwards way of life or something like that but no. These people are just as human as we are. They have same goals and dreams that we do but we meaning as americans. Most of us have never been put in those circumstances and honestly we should give credit to them. They're coming over here. I actually met one of them who landed in oklahoma city and he came to the mosque ended the friday prayers and this past friday and he was just beaming with with some sense of hope. You know and and positivity that i could not even understand having gone through circumstances so yes marianne. Sorry i i tend to go on and on. It's a professor in me. I guess it's my fifth semester. Oklahoma state so i'm in really in professor mode but yeah no we need to really learn as americans to look at the whole picture and to understand that we played a part in creating part of the chaos and then we want to go in and disrupt people's lives in order to try to clean up the mess we created in the first place so these these things are very complex and we have to look at not just the last twenty years but the last forty or fifty years at least understand them better but i guess what i really want to get at because i really what i really want to make clear. Is that these were not just random. Afghans they pooled onto a plane. You know That these were strategic allies of ours that their relationship with the united states government were now at great risk. Hoyas ortho than they already were. And that's part of the that's one one way in which they you know. And and what i feel is a very complicated Very complicated discourse around this whole whole affair guess is on the one hand you have people decrying. He left people behind and on the other hand you have will. We don't want them here. And then you have you know It's just it's a to me. it's it's such a complex complex story of We we got it. We got ourselves into this mess it was complicated to extricate ourselves from it India the folks that we tried to bring. I mean i don't i don't i haven't done enough reading on. Its no if we were able to get all of the afghans that allied with us. I know that there were some left behind. Vegas are trying to say is is like yes absolutely like say this extraordinarily complicated But for those who will decried the presence of the these folks in our state like. Wait a minute. Hold that You know these were the folk like are you in favor of the war on terror and yet you're upset that we're helping people you i you sooner i'm going it's like it just they. They symbolize so much of what's complicated about this whole day. And i'm not saying this apologized for the american government But just that. It's so complex to either say they're terrorists. They're not you know it's like no. They helped us and we. Oh we need. We're we're doing what we owe them at the berry leased from accurate or my reducing is or is that a reductionist perspective. While i mean no in in in simple terms you're right. I mean the people who have gotten out right and the people who are now landing in states like oklahoma. These are the people who were working with the us forces reid who are assisting them and helping them fight against you. Will you know the more extreme groups like al qaeda and the taliban and let's make no mistake about it. You know when we look at things in very black and white terms like oh. It's you know. The west verse. Terrorists are what whatnot nurses bad. Good versus bad. That's really where we have problems. And that's what lewis call a spate of spayed and and i have when it comes to this particular subject. I have no shame insane. I mean look at the current chair of the oklahoma republican party. right john. Bennett has a history of attacking muslims in the state and he has gone onto the deals. At least on the official oklahoma republican party page attack. Refugees am basically insinuating that they're violent people that they're associated with terrorists and things like that but the truth of the matter is when you look at reports not from me not from some random muslim but when you look at united nations reports you can see that when it comes to groups like the taliban isis al qaeda groups that are textbook extremist groups no different than the kkk right which is a textbook extremist group here in the united states. Muslims are just as much victims if not more victims of these extremist groups than anyone else right isis. Actually you know use that. As an example they gain notoriety by executing the journalists on tv and that was of course you know incredibly tragic sad and and there is no excuse for that you know horrific act that they did but a lot of people overlook the fact that like ninety five percent of their victims are muslims that refused to support their efforts that refuse to help them in their extreme actions. And things like that. So i think that is the issue. People are overlooking this and then on top of that one thing that really bothers me is not just the notion that people are ignoring that. These refugees helped our own government right in fighting against extremism and trying to establish stability. But look even what john bennett said. You know as head of the republican party is that there is no way that you can properly vet these refugees. Well what he what concerns me is what he's saying is not that he can't vet he's basically saying you can't trust our government right and that's a me as a bigger problem. I'm afraid that we're getting into this. You know conversation where we're saying we can't trust the refugees but we also can't trust our governments and that's that to me. Is you know un-american. I think that gets to the heart of. I'm like eventually gonna be able to articulate really bothers me about this one hand it's a failure president biden but on the other these afghans are people. That should not be here. Right you know and it's just You know we are unsafe. Because of the way he pulled out of afghanistan But oh wait a minute. Those people don't make us safe either You know it's just this incredible Well no one is surprised at the hypocrisy anymore. Right in no a surprise via. I mean this is just this is just stock in trade of what they do But i just. I wonder like you know. I don't know i don't ask you to speak for them but do they. do. They really know what i i do. Worry i worry about You know the their safety. And i worry about Their wellbeing while they're here because of the jon benet's in this state. Well that's a reality. I mean and that's that's why the organization you know counseling american islamic relations. That's why we exist to try to number one tip the scale in the right direction. And that's why i'm so committed to interfaith. Work is arnold mentioned in the introduction. You know because. It's not just muslims that need to be allies of of what happens to be muslim refugees coming in but it needs to be oklahoma right all people and yeah i mean. There's no doubt that the rhetoric of people like john bennett echoes throughout the state in the country and gets into people's homes and some people buy into that hateful rhetoric. But there's a few things that do give me hope number one. We have had an outpouring of support to the fact that to the point that it's been overwhelming. I i've been doing this for nine years and arnold knows you know. He's he's seen you know the death threats we've received. I remember arnold Very clearly back in. I think twenty fourteen or fifteen was at a press conference. We had an office with the pakistani limo driver. That was physically assaulted almost killed by one of his clientele that he picked up. And you know so. We've seen a lot of hateful things. We've seen a lot of negativity. I have never seen so much support and and as you said you know with. This rhetoric went on so much support for muslims and on top of that these are refugees from people who are not muslim in the state of oklahoma. I'm it's unprecedented you know. And we've been clicking items that are office and people are just coming through with their children People of all ages and just saying we just wanna help. If you need more will give you more. You know we owe it to these people you know. These are going to be our neighbors and financial donations as well. I mean it's just been unbelievable. So yes i do worry. I absolutely do worry. But there's also something good going on in our state that we can't discount at all and one of the reasons That's one of the reasons we got involved from the get go. You know when catholic charities called on us as we want you to be a part of this we absolutely because we want to refugees number one you know we put these welcome kiss together. So we want them to be greeted with practical items like pda items and hygiene items also to get a copy of the koran and prayer rugs and prayer beads. So they are reassured. And that's why. I told catholic charities. They need that reassurance stepping off the plane that their culture and their faith are safe in oklahoma from the people who are bringing them in ryan. So that's the first thing they get when they step off the plane and go to their their accommodations and then we deliver a allow meal to them. That was actually an ideal catholic. Jared who wasn't even our idea but we get a hallam meal from a local muslim restaurant so the meat is butchered in a way that they're happy with and a cuisine with spices and flavours. They're used to so we're trying to reinforce to them that this is a safe place and then of course they get a letter from imam in chauncey who's the amount of the islamic society great oklahoma city with his contact information and then he gave a booklet from care oklahoma. So we're you know that's really the best that we can do and then continue to engage with them You know throughout the years. Bring him to the mosque. Bring him to the local schools for those that. Want to be a part of the committee. Which i think most of them do. Yes sometimes the odds are stacked against us when it comes to hate rhetoric osama phobia. But i think now after fifteen years of karaoke llamas existence. We had the resources in the capacity to do this and to try to provide them with you know these resources that they'll need right and so that's the best we can do and we hope that they don't face in difficult circumstances and when they will be there for them. That's really unfortunately in america right now. That's the best we can do. So after that first meal and after the welcome package what kind of what you know. What is the safety net for them so that they can always eat and they can always keep the lights on. How does that work for the for these folks. It's a great question so catholic. Charities has funding from the federal government basically to provide for them for the first ninety days. Of course you know we have offered that we will continue to provide for them ninety days and beyond right so we're basically you know allowing catholic. Charities tells what they need and you know provide additional clothing. They need more hygiene items. They need more access to meals. Not just with care. Oklahoma but the moss islamic centers around oklahoma city have been collecting funds prepared to assist After day ninety though that's where the challenge begins because that's where the federal funding runs out so spero project. Actually i i've known of them. They've been around for thirteen years in oklahoma city and we met with them Before the first refugees arrived they're going to work to really provide that support after day nineties so starting day ninety one and then we wanna be a part of that as much as we can And then the big challenge at a lot of people don't realize we're calling refugees but actually they're coming in under a different status that a lot of people don't know about which is a special parolee status. It's still a tps temporary protective status according to the united states government but it doesn't get them the benefits of government support right so they can't get snap benefits they can't get sooner care And things like that so one of the unfortunately less talked about challenges that we're going to face is within probably the first six to nine months if not sooner. We're going to have to give them some legal support to help them. Adjust status And applying for responsible for on their own is pursuing a more permanent status in the united states. As far as we know. That's what we've been told. I mean catholic. Charities does have. I think an attorney or to Spare project has an attorney of course a care oklahoma. We have an attorney. But i don't think anyone was prepared for these numbers and so as far as i know Unless anything changes we are going to have to rely on immigration attorneys to either provide pro bono work. Or we're going to have to raise money to hire some because these individuals cannot come in. You know start building a life and then all of a sudden be considered a legal. And it wasn't their fault right. I mean again. We're talking about putting them in in very challenging circumstances. I don't know whose fault this is. But somebody messed up to be quite honest with you. Bring it in and around thirty seven thousand refugees that are all on a temporary protective status. That won't get them any benefits and on top of that. They're going to have to extend or someone's going to have to spend money to change their status in apply for asylum or apply for refugee status. That's problematic gripe. But i'm not an expert on where that came from or who messed up there but it i see it as being a problem. Well i i mean honestly i think it touches on just how difficult immigration system is in united states. Anyway right so it's like it's I'll just say drunk. The jon benet the gets a free pass right like all you are entitled to the well of social safety. Net of the united states as an immigrant is like well actually Without that social security number. There's not much that you can do. He know and so it just As just the the complexity of this is just seems never ending you know and so. I think what we always to do in these podcast. Episodes is Gave our listeners action steps right. Like what can we do to help with this Very often like oh. This is in talking about the situation specifically pretty often. We have in. This situation sucks. You know this is the worst like what can we do to about it right so i'm already hearing. Okay we need. We need to make sure folks have safe secure places to live into eads and to keep their family safe past ninety days. We have we legal issues that we need that to step up and help with. I mean we all we all know that people that can help with that What what are other things that Where help is needed. A great question asked to not performance help right like actual help. Yeah so what. We've been doing initially collecting clothing law of clothing ri- because they've quit nothing correct right or very few possessions. I mean what maybe a backpack or purse or something right so not a whole lot and i mean clothing is one thing that we all have access right in america. We typically live in access of that and so you know people have just been going through their clauses cleaning out their clothes kids clothes. That's something that everyone can do pretty easily and can just drop into the care oklahoma office. We're collecting them. Initially were giving them a well right now boxes but we actually got some laundry baskets deliver. Today's wanna give them clothing to start him off and then once they get settled. We wanted to come in and pick out what they liked you know and so they can actually feel like. They're a little empowered there. So that's a big one hygiene items again something. We take for granted by deodorant toothbrush toothpaste so any burden. We can take off their shoulders. Which for us as a simple thing right that's what we're trying to do. P p. items We actually collected a lot of though so at the moment. We're we're okay with those. But if the pandemic obviously continues we may need to provide them more and looking towards the future. We're going to be collecting very soon. We're gonna be doing a winter clothing drive because you know if you don't have close you definitely don't have winter clothes So that's something. They'll need a school supplies for once. They you know they get the status adjustments and kids can start school So those are some immediate things and then we have a volunteer list on our website care. Oklahoma dot com or people can sign up enlists. What special skills or resources. I had a pediatrician come. He actually has come twice to my office and his broad close and kids toys and things like that and he said look if they need. A pediatrician will offer my services. Free of charge. And that's wonderful right so we have a sign up form. People can sign up. And say i'm willing to do this. And so it's gonna take a village to help these individuals and one thing sparrow project and catholic charities warned us when we got into this. This is not a three or six month deal. This is years of work. And we said you know what as an organization that our core mission is to empower the muslim community and provide them with resources to where they can have basically the best quality life that they deserve here in our state in our country. Shame on us. If we don't get involved right it's like we don't have a choice and you know i'm happy that we were given the opportunity that we've been able to do this and so we're in it for the long haul. So that's what i tell people right now. Everyone's excited right. They wanna get involved. Donate items posted about on social media. Find a way to need some stamina yet. Find a way to keep that excitement going and keep checking in keep checking in with us in other organizations every three or six months and just asked. What do you need. What support do need Typically are folks who are coming in now are they typically Provided housing in terms of an apartment say or they are they moving in with people it you know if they're sort of on their own how they y- once you get some basics to sort of get your sea legs here in oklahoma. How would you even be get to a grocery store if you needed to buy food. How did you get to a job interview. If you you know had the opportunity either just things that you get a driver's license. We don't a social security number. I mean there are all these things that are bouncing around my head. Absolutely you know. And that's a challenge. I mean so yeah. Catholic charities does provide them with immediate housing. And right now. They're basically putting them where they can temporarily until they can free up in apartments or houses and one of the challenges. What i mentioned just a little bit ago. Is that parolee status right. So if you have the refugee or asylum status you can also qualify for a housing assistance and things of that nature. So you know you ask them questions. I don't have all the answers to but yeah that is going to be a challenge. And that's where you know we're going to have to see what assistance is needed. A you know after they start coming in. And i think people can check you know. Check in with us sparrow project in catholic charities to find out more because i think a lot of us are learning. This is unprecedented. Ride this many people coming into this special status but yet you know as you mentioned. They can't even work under the status. They can't go to school under the status. They can get a driver's license under the status. So i think that's going to be one of the big things is getting them the legal help so they can then do all those things and start contributing to society because quite honestly you know i think people will be very happy once they see how much the afghani people can bring to our state in particular. Look i'm just gonna as okay as we love food right so let's just hit him in the heart right. Afghani food is outstanding. And i have long wished we had an afghani restaurants or couple of them here in the state. And i've had an in washington dc. So i tell you what once you know we can get on their own two feet couple years down the road you know that would be. I think one of the most amazing things to see them open a local restaurant. Some of them become business owners. Some of them send their kids to college here right. They become doctors and lawyers. I mean these people are going to bring benefit to our state because diversity brings benefit to our state and so you know. Yeah but long story short arnold absolutely correct. Marianne said it has well. We got challenges. Cut out for us instead of these people and and we're just gonna have to see where this goes we. We don't know all the answers right now. Unfortunately sort of we do sort of have a template. Let me throw this in. Though in the sense that that you know the vietnamese who came here after the fall of south vietnam saigon and we now have you know very successful businesses. Like you're talking about you're up and down. The asian district belong classing boulevard in different things like that. I mean it's it's a very important vibrant community here in oklahoma city at least so we can see the potential. I think they're in welcoming a group of why the afghans one hundred percent annual marianne mentioned this a minute ago and i was thinking about this when she had mentioned something But you know we are a nation of immigrants. I mean really. We are and you know one of the one of the strangest and most bizarre things that i've heard in the last decade or two of my life is that you know that one line go back home right and i was sell people. I'm not going back to kansas right. And then they they either laugh or they get confused. What does he talk about. I thought he was a muslim. He's not from you jokes on you right. Especially if you're white in america because your ancestors brought muslims to this country four hundred years ago on slave ships right that's a reality But the thing is we are a nation of immigrants and none of us actually belong here right except the indigenous tribes or the native american tribes. So i mean this idea of us being so selective about who is and isn't an american who is a qualified immigrant versus who isn't as just the most bizarre thing to me. And i think you know we should humble ourselves a little bit. I mean like you said you know so many of us we go to these restaurants and we buy from you know the mazing sandwich places especially. I love the vietnamese sandwiches writer. We go to the grocery store super cowan and we all these amazing things but then some of those same people can hold his very anti immigrant attitude and is perplexing to me. I don't think they actually sink through very well And perhaps they try to compartmentalize but as you said the asian district. Oh man i mean that is something we should celebrate right. It is so unique and bring so much to our city and the afghan people can do the same thing. i mean. we've seen it with the different groups of ethnic groups of muslims right. We have restaurants here in oklahoma city. The serve authentic palestinian jordanian cuisine. We have restaurants that serve authentic. Moroccan cuisine We have grocery stores that provide authentic spices from all over the middle east africa if it wasn't for muslims and people from that part of the world that immigrated here twenty thirty forty years ago. None of that would exist so absolutely. We should celebrate our diversity and we should recognize that you know just because people look different than us just because their skin color different languages different or their religion is different does not mean they belong here. So here's what i'm hoping Just kind of You know thinking about the complexities. Because i mean i. I've i've heard stories of individuals who emigrated for whatever reason and they have professional credentials from their home country. And it's they're unable to transferred over here you know. Just the the visa status the immigration status. We've talked about it with the observer in the past. But just the long protracted enormously expensive process that is the immigration process citizenship. All these things but you would think for this specific class of immigrants. These refugees specifically these afghan refugees. These refugees that are coming to the us because of the circumstances with which they left you know as like allies strategic allies. The united states. I would love to see congress. you know. act on this to kind of fuel. Their ability are kind of you. Know like supercharge their ability to get through the process quicker to give those one just so their kids can get in school. Like you're talking about you. Know all those things that are like standing in their way to fully integrating and just kind of incorporating into society they can you know So they can work so they and you know. And i say that and i'm like i don't wanna say that i think the only thing that makes a person is their ability to work because that's also terrible but just all those things that they were used to doing and they're at home you know just. Removing those legal immigration barriers are just pushing them through more quickly for this for this class of immigrants in particular. We do it for professionals. You know we do. We have those visa status for certain professional immigrants And that's so self serving of the united states because it's you know it's that we can't fill with american citizens I just that would be my my like big wishlist for this group of individuals right because And it's not because i think they're on the dole. It's not not none of that. But just that autonomy of being able to do what they can do Because that's social security if you don't have it you can't do anything in this country so i don't know my off. Basir is that john. I think you're actually a one hundred percent correct. You know. I mean somebody has to have the power to say okay. This is a special circumstance. They're four we've been in this situation right so it's not the first time we have evacuated people like this like roy that happens in the united states. It doesn't happen often anymore. I just don't know about the history of this parolee status right so i. This is my first really foray into helping out refugees because we this is why i think there was the iraqi refugees that came in perhaps before that time care. Oklahoma either was. Nonexistent are very young as an organization. But this is you now. I don't know if this is something that happened before or not so. Yeah i mean. I think some something needs to happen somewhere. Whoever has the ability to do that And make those decisions and you know you said something that that makes a whole lot of sense in in afghan culture much like in culture a lot of cultures in the middle east. There is a sense of pride in being able to provide for your own and and being able to stand on your own two feet these individuals. I think that's another thing people. They don't wanna come in and receive government assistance. That is to them. It's it's like really attacking their their pride and it's something that a coach in a culture they would see shameful right is that they don't want to ask for help unless absolutely necessary but by taking away their ability to work what choice do they have by taking away their ability to become more educated. What choice do they have so that they already have. You know just that that freedom and autonomy to operate in society the way at what you you once were and i feel like this is the biggest like way i can poke these xenophobes in there i it's like i mean we are helping them out. We are keeping them safe but at the same time. They still have so many structural barriers as as refugees. I mean i mean even if they were silence or if they were you know Just coming through like eh students like there are so many barriers in parameters the ways in which they can operate in society in. I mean i would just love to see congress i mean just from a political perspective. Just If we're really going to grapple with what our legacy enough ghanistan is you know what it means to bring people here. You know to safe safety so called You know we'll what does it mean when they're actually hear what is their existence when they're actually here and what can we do to make it better because you know again. I don't wanna. I don't wanna cast virgins on folks who need social social supports. That's not my for these folks. I i mean. I know what it's like to have an advanced degree not be able to use it but you know and so You know to to be selling place. I have to imagine that that's as feeling helpless than this. You know so. I don't know so that's my. That's my big ticket. Big-ticket wish right like let's grapple with it this way. Let's let's handle it. Because i think the all too easy for the right the right wing to say well. He shouldn't have ever left afghanistan. Oh and then he left people behind as like gosh just total totally removed from reality. Yeah yeah and you know. I think if i were to say one thing and i've said many times before and i think it's it makes sense now more than ever. I mean as americans. We need to look at these individuals as human beings. You know something happened. I don't know when it happened or when it started happening. But something happened where we basically have lost our sense of humanity because now we use you know labels and generalizations and social media to push wedges in between one another and those. We don't understand and we looked down upon them or we find ways to make memes out of them. People need to understand that at the end of the day. We're all human beings right. Have some sense of humanity enshrined to as you know you so well said marianne tried to understand where these people are coming from the difficult circumstances that they're in and how they even got there in the first place and who can't have a heart ride for fellow human being you know regardless of circumstances so i think that's the thing you know really. This is an opportunity for those of us with conscious and those of us who are perhaps sane and good people deep down inside right to be more in touch with our humanity and to really connect with these individuals. And that's another thing is that you know even throughout this on cast people are probably listening to it and they feel very distant to the concept right because they don't know people from afghanistan. they may never have known a refugee. So my advice that. I give to everyone people say well. What can we do right. And yes actions by congress would be wonderful and yes things like right. Things like collecting donations and giving them are wonderful but at the very least i hope everyone who listens to this would just take a moment to get to know someone from the afghan culture. Get to know a little bit about the islamic faith which is predominantly the faith that these individuals practicing and that is the way that we can grow closer together by getting to know each other and getting to know really who we are beyond the label. So that's my bit of advice and these people need friends. This is an opportunity for us to make new friends. And when you make a new friend from a different culture and a different background different upbringing you have an opportunity to grow as an individual. I don't have any afghani friends. I'm muslim my father's from iran which is right next door. I have no afghani friends. So i'm looking forward to making some afghani friends. So i can learn new things and learn new perspectives right and we all should be looking forward to that so this is an opportunity to connect with our humanity and to cross barriers. That have been put up in our society and get really no one arnold Well i have one of the things. I've just been thinking about through all this and that is Oklahoma has long been considered and with a fair amount of pride by a certain element of our society of being buckle on the bible belt and Obviously you have the junk benefits of the world and people like that. Who who who've you any other faith group with suspicion I'm i'm i'm sort of heartened by what i see in helping. Bring these folks with the way that different faith groups are working together here. But i also have that fear that certain elements in this society. It makes me wonder if our new afghan friends had these concerns to the the sort of proselytizing and so forth. You might end up dealing with here it coming in now as a religious minority while tell you I don't think these afghans are have fears about that because they don't know it's coming. I'll be honest with you right. They're coming from a muslim majority country. and and what. A lot of people don't understand that. I teach you know you mentioned. I'm a professor at osu. It to religions of the middle east and what a lot of people don't realize that christians jews and muslims. Just take those three three face. For example have coexisted in the middle east for more than fourteen hundred years. Right is just that. For some reason when we get to europe or america when we move into these western nations all the sudden we start butting heads with one another so they don't know it's coming because they don't have that experience for the most part in their own country that being said look. I mean that's reality right. I mean you know Christianity is a faith in which they really do try to recruit. Newcomers right converts converts to the religion. But is islam right so we can't we have to be fair. Both religions new seek converts do try to sway people one way or another. So they're going gonna be people who do that right and that's fine but our thing was they shouldn't be stepping off the plane and people rains them and be like you know come to jesus. Here's a bible church on sunday. So set right and i told i told everyone. We're working with catholic charities federal project we are not in the business of trying to control their life or their face decisions but we don't want them stepping off the plane and thinking just because they landed in a place completely new to them that they've never been to before they all of a sudden have to abandon their culture and their religion. So that's where these welcome kits came in. And that's where these interfaith welcome committees came in the first Welcome committee was a christian. Jewish muslim right that welcome the first a family and and so the idea is. We're reinforcing number. One your faith in your culture safe here if you choose to practice it number two. We are a pluralistic society. Okay and you know. At least the organizations that are involved in greeting and helping these refugees settled down. We believe in the tossed salad versus melting pot theory right so we're not a melting pot. Were not all a stimulating into one faith or one culture. But rather we're all distinctly. You know a part of this american experimental right. And so yeah. It's going to happen. i mean you know. I'm not going to be mad at people for doing it. You know it is what it is but at the end of the day we at least have brought them in and said if you choose to practice your religion we got your back right but if they choose to leave the religion you know. Nobody's stopping them. It's a free country. It's a free world and in fact islamic faith very very clearly says in one verse in the koran. there's no compulsion in religion so we're not here to force people to stay. you know. I control your membership right now. That's not an issue You now but if someone choose delete the faith that's decision they make the point is we don't want them thinking that they must do that. Just because they come in and gone support from a certain group or certain organization or something like that. So and i'm really happy with the catholic charities. They have just been so supportive. And i really think they embody you know The real mission of catholicism. You know my mother was a catholic growing up. A lot of my family members are and catholicism for a long time has really promoted this concept of pluralism. My father who's a adamson from iran. His first job was working at a catholic community college. A catholic high school. He taught him both and they supported him in his faith. In fact the catholic priests would remind him that. Ramadan's coming up. It's time to fast right or you know they say hey did you do. Your prayers today is like no and you'd better do them. You know five times a day and so you know catholicism and at least in america has a long history of being very supportive of the islamic faith in you know. I'm very happy and pleased a catholic charities east immigrants for. Yeah now you know. They've done a great job and so credit to them and you know. Hopefully we'll do right by these refugees and whatever decisions they make when they come in. That's their decision to me. Don't have anything else. But this wonderful was fantastic atom. Yeah we can't pick your mouth for joining us and and hope that you will keep us. Abreast of till we can inform our readers in our listeners absolutely of of ways that they can step up and help too. Because you're going to be a long slow guys drinking absolutely so you know care. Oklahoma dot com c. a. r. oklahoma dot com. We are keeping an ongoing list. And sorry my my messenger is going off. I just got word that the third refugee family will actually be arriving this week in oklahoma. So great news. You know that's coming right as we're having this discussion and and it's a i in fact there's a newborn newborn child We'll be we'll be with them. Which is wonderful. Wow what a beautiful thing that we're able to not only provide home to family but even a newborn. That's that that. Wow that that just tugs at my heart there but yeah care. Oklahoma dot com c. a. r. oklahoma dot com. We'll keep an ongoing list of items that people need ways you can support them and also our social media channels were on twitter. Instagram and facebook. Those are good ways to keep up and you know. Just give us a buzz if you have any questions for shoot us an email and we were glad to have those discussions with you. It's gonna take years of work. But i think as you mentioned arnold the one they were going to look at look back at this and say wow we were part of establishing a new community of people that have brought their culture and brought benefit to our state. And we're going to celebrate that one day right now maybe not everyone celebrating but a whole lot of assure our and one day i think everyone will look back and say this was a pivotal moment in our state's history and i'm glad that the governor and many people stepped up to say this is what we're to do. We are so grateful for your time. Thank you for the conversation. And i hope arnold i can do our very best to make sure solid does a smooth. We think we both would want to use our platform inches possible to help these folks out and yeah yeah. Thank you so much We will talk to you again. All right thank. You have a good evening. If you like what you hear on that server cast please tell your friends about us. Also if you're interested in sponsoring ups overcast give arnold hamilton call at four zero five. Four seven eight eight seven zero zero or dropped him an email at a hamilton okay. Observer dot org you also can. Supporters overcast with a tax deductible donation to the oklahoma observer democracy foundation whose mission is to help create better more informed oklahoma to help keep us on the air visit okay observer dot org and click on the donate button on the upper right side of the homepage. We also urge you to subscribe to the oklahoma observer now on our fifty third year of comforting the afflicted afflicting comfortable we have a special digital subscription rate for observer gas listeners. Only a dollar ninety nine a month for the first year. That's fifty percent off the usual rate for monthly digital subscribers. Just use the coupon code observer cast. We're checking out to get the discount route. Finally we want to eight norman's dare deck for the music. You're listening to today. You can download his albums that itunes learn more including dates for jarod's upcoming online performances at jared deck music dot com.

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