“In this country immigrants are still treated like victims. . . .If you can help them tell their stories, you will have done a lot.” I am reading Swedish novelist Henning Mankell’s The Shadow Girls, recommended by a friend, about the thousands of people – from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere – who wash up daily on Europe’s southern shores. It is a reminder that America isn’t the only country with an immigrant issue, that all those children at our southern border are not just problems but people, and that most of them are not so much coming for America’s freebies as fleeing for their lives. Don’t misunderstand me, this is a huge problem, but it is a human one and it is global in scope. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that the world’s refugee population now exceeds 50 million for the first time since World War II.
Last Friday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ordered every Christian still living in the city of Mosul to leave, convert or be killed. In images chillingly reminiscent of the Holocaust, ISIS appropriated the gold, confiscated the houses and destroyed the icons of the Chaldean Christian community that had lived in Mosul for 1,700 years. Many “expressed a sense of utter abandonment and isolation,” The New York Times reported. They fled with nothing but the clothes they wore, bringing the number of Iraq’s internal refugees to 1.2 million.
Seventeen hundred years of history. Gone forever. “There but for the grace of God go I.”