Patrick Stewart and other celebs point out 2 words people keep confusing about the refugee crisis.

'Words matter.'

The rush of people streaming out of the Middle East and into Europe is often referred to as a "migrant crisis"...

Syrian refugees near the Croatian boarder. Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.


...which can be very misleading as many of the so-called "migrants" are actually "refugees."


An asylum-seeker on a train in Macedonia. Photo by Armend Nimani/Getty Images.

Both migrants and refugees are coming to Europe, but there's actually a pretty big difference between the two.

Craig Ferguson. All GIFs via United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees/YouTube.

Perhaps most importantly, migrants can return home if they want to. A refugee on the other hand?

It's critical to recognize that the millions of refugees crossing Europe's borders are fleeing for their very survival.

According to some estimates, over 300,000 men and women have already lost their lives in Syria's brutal civil war. Those who have left are fleeing torture, imprisonment, bombed out homes, and army service where they've been forced to kill their own countrymen.

Those of us lucky enough to reside in rich, secure countries have the luxury of debating how many asylum-seekers we feel like letting in the door. But those asylum-seekers don't have the luxury of deciding whether or not to knock.

They can't go back, and they have nowhere else to go — which is why we need to welcome them into our communities and help them start new lives.

And we need to help them now.

And the migrants coming to Europe might not need help as urgently, but that doesn't mean we should send them back either.


A raft of refugees and migrants drifting near the Greek island of Lesbos. Photo by Aris Messinis/Getty Images.

Many are running from countries were poverty is rampant and employment is scarce. If you were born somewhere, through no fault of your own, with few good jobs and fewer prospects, it makes sense to want to a move to a country, like the United States or many in Europe, where those things are abundant.

Others are seeking to reunite with family who have already made the move. If you've been living apart from your husband, or son, or wife, or daughter for years, even decades, it makes even more sense that you would move heaven and earth to try to join them.

It's a different situation, which is going to require different policy solutions. But there's nothing wrong with wanting a better life in a country where living that life is more possible.

Bottom line: It's important that when we're talking about refugees, we say "refugees" and when we're talking about migrants, we say "migrants."

Their needs are different and helping them requires different approaches.

But though their circumstances aren't the same, it's critical to treat all people who seek a safe, secure future for themselves and their families with respect and dignity.

You can watch the full video, where Patrick Stewart joins Craig Ferguson, Kristin Davis, Neil Gaiman, and others in calling on countries around the world to help seek justice for both groups:

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

Culture

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wikipedia

Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

Keep Reading Show less
popular