Got a spare room or two in your house? I’m just asking because it seems as if there might shortly be quite an influx of soon-to-be former Afghanistan citizens looking for places to stay here in the U.S. The numbers are a little fuzzy at the moment, but if the pictures from the Kabul airport are any indication, bunches, bunches, and more bunches would be a fair assessment.
The White House has said we’re going to help those who helped us in our 20-year occupation of Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and other points of interest. With the Taliban taking control of the government (and everything about everyday life, apparently), those people who had anything to do with American servicemen or civilians are fearful of revenge being rained down on their heads. Given that the U.S. is still thought of as the “Great Satan” by many members of the new regime, that possibility is very real.
Hopefully, everyone who wants to get out of Dodge can do so before minor problems become major ones and major problems become war once again. From what’s been reported, there’s good reason to believe some citizens fleeing the Taliban will be able to relocate in countries close by. Places such as Qatar, Pakistan, UAE, and even Italy and Germany might prove to be safe havens. But there may also be quite a few who arrive on American soil and will need to assimilate into our culture. And that might not be so easy.
Living conditions in Afghanistan are apparently quite harsh. One UNICEF report identified the country as the “worst place to be born in the world.” Not exactly the slogan you want to use on tourism brochures. There’s extreme poverty and violence happening daily, giving rise to a life expectancy of about 44 years.
Travel throughout the country is unsafe because of crimes such as kidnappings, hostage-taking, suicide bombings (as we’ve unfortunately seen up close this week), landmines, combat operations, and terrorist attacks. Given that it’s been occupied by various and sundry would-be-but-never-successful conquerors throughout its history, one nickname for Afghanistan has been the “Graveyard of Empires.” Again, not a sellable advertising slogan.
Refugees who suddenly find themselves in the middle of America might have to adapt to some new normals. Indoor plumbing, for instance. Or clean drinking water right out the faucet. And electricity at the flip of a switch whenever and wherever it’s needed. All are in short supply in their homeland, especially outside large cities.
Women, of course, may notice the biggest difference. Especially given the Taliban rules. Very few American ladies choose to walk around in clothing that reveals only their eyes. But you can if you want to. The workplace is wide open for women as well. And it’s perfectly fine (actually, required) that girls go to school.
As for men, they don’t have to grow beards here unless they want to. And those long, flowing robes that help with the sandstorms? Well, jeans are probably way more practical in most U.S. cities and towns. Also, they may find that some of their favorite sports aren’t played with abandon as much here as in Afghanistan. Cut-throat kite flying (where the objective is to cut the string of an opponent’s flying object while in the air) is not a big draw at public parks and beaches.
Neither is buzkashi, the Afghan national pastime. Basically, it’s a game that pits horsemen (in teams or solo) in a challenge to take possession “of the headless carcass of a goat or calf and carry it to a goal while simultaneously fending off competitors.” Chances are, that won’t soon replace college football. But you never know. There are indeed Americans who are out for blood on Saturday afternoons.
English, of necessity, will have to be learned to replace Dari and Pashto. But I’m thinking, if many or most of the new refugees had been helping Americans in Afghanistan, they most likely picked up at least a smattering of our language. They may not be fluent, but they could probably ask where to find Coca-Cola and Fritos at the grocery store.
Being part of a U.S. family would certainly be the best and fastest way for new arrivals to be welcomed and assimilated quickly into their new country. So, I’ll ask again. How many spare rooms do you have? Chances are you’ll be able to get some taxpayer money to help with expenses. When Congress is talking about spending $3.5 trillion more for everything under the sun, what’s a few billion more for Afghani friends?