On CBC radio show The 180, Ryerson journalism prof Kamal Al-Solaylee throws cold water all over Canadians who have been according "Syrian refugees" a rapturous reception. Al-Solaylee doesn't come right out and use the phrase "misplaced moral narcissism"--it happens to be Mark Steyn's--but, in essence, that's the problem as he sees it--the reality that we Canucks have turned these Les Miserables into secondary characters in their own life stories, and it is these stories, in all their wretchedness, that should be told.
While I agree with Al-Solaylee to some extent (the sight of some Canadians, including more than a few Jewish ones, furiously patting themselves on the back for their own virtuousness has been a little hard to take), I think he has gone a bit overboard with this rant.
Yes, Syrian refugees have had a rough time and will probably face many challenges. And, yes, in all likelihood the first generation of these arrivals will have to work awfully hard so that their children can go on to succeed as Canadians in Canada. But, really, is that any different that what others who have come here from godforsaken parts of the world have had to face?
Is it different, for example, from what my own grandparents, who came to Canada early in the 20th Century, confronted?
I think not. I think, in fact, that my grandparents (who were not greeted at their point of arrival by a prime minister bearing a puffy Canucki jacket) had it much, much, tougher.
I am reminded of a friendly and extremely chatty taxi driver, a gentleman from Pakistan, who drove my mom and me home from a doctor's appointment at a downtown hospital a few weeks ago. He told us he had come to Canada almost two decades ago and since then had had a number of different jobs. He had worked hard and had made enough money to put his two daughters through university. One was a pharmacist and the other was now in medical school. He was so grateful to be here, and didn't once gripe about what Canada "owed" him, and how it had failed to deliver on its promises.
Wouldn't it be awesome if the Syrians now arriving--as well as Prof. Al-Solaylee--had that sort of attitude?