Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Debate rages over whether the folks evicted from New Orleans should be called refugees, evacuees, or survivors. I don't know which term is more accurate-- but I do know that scattered across the streets of Philadelphia and other cities of this great country, long before the hurricane, are people who look to me like refugees; refugees from rat-race American society. I guess as the bar is constantly raised, as more credentials and mentors are required, as the pace of the conformist Machine we all live in becomes faster all the time, many are thrown out of the house of America, or never allowed to enter in the first place.

Maybe there are more refugees in this nation than we think. (Some of them in the ULA.) I've known a lot of underground artists and writers, in both Detroit and this city, and most of them could be described as refugees. No health care, for years, for decades, walking around with accummulating contained ailments. One can spot the undergrounder right away-- usually the person has bad teeth, taped-up eyeglasses, walks with a cane from a broken leg or hip which never healed properly. Sometimes the person is also just a little crazy-- or seems to be to bourgeois outsiders. In truth, these are the sane people. The crazy are the mindless hordes caught up in the gears of the machine, unable to question it, to ask if there might be a better way.

Refugees? What else can millions of Americans consider themselves but refugees from a mad society?

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