The Corner

Fix Your Own Goddam Country

(With apologies to WFB.) Two pieces in the Post that aren’t at all about immigration make an important point related to U.S. asylum policy nonetheless. From the first one, about views of the disabled in Mexico:

For weeks now, Peñaloza has shocked and shamed Mexico, performing a one-woman show that challenges perceptions of the disabled in a country where people with disabilities frequently live cloistered lives because of the social stigma associated with their condition here.

And from the second, about a movie that seeks to raise awareness of dyslexia in India:

“Unfortunately, many in India still think learning disability comes under the mental illness category, and that adds to the shame and stigma,” said T.D. Dhariyal, the government’s deputy chief commissioner for persons with disabilities.

These are encouraging stories of social modernization. I point to them because the United States has increasingly been granting asylum to people precisely because their home countries display such backward, pre-modern views. (I wrote in Commentary about this years ago.) In other words, we have recognized as refugees women from places where spousal abuse is considered normal, and women who reject clitoridectomy, and to relate it directly to the above articles, an autistic boy from Pakistan whose relatives thought he was possessed by demons. These are all bad things, but they are manifestations of the often benighted attitudes of traditional societies, rather than the torture chambers and pogroms that refugee policy is intended to save people from. It cannot be the purpose of American immigration policy to change the cultural practices of foreign countries or to admit anyone who dissents from those practices. Erasing the social stigma of disability (or whatever) is something people in these societies have to do for themselves — and the good news is that they’re starting to do just that.

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