1/4 Community Conversations: Us and Them: Immigrants, Refugees and Fear of “the other”

Jan 4, 2016

Children of the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. Over 81,000 Syrians call the camp home: a refugee camp that's evolving into a permanent settlement
Credit Caroline Gluck/Oxfam

Fear of Muslims.  Fear of refugees.  Fear of immigrants – we’ve heard it all and then some on the news in recent months, with wildly differing ideas of how to cope with that fear.

An article in Psychology Today says fear of foreigners or other strange-seeming people comes out when we are under stress and that fear seems almost hardwired into the human psyche.  But a mere 70 years after the end of the Second World War, are we really talking about banning people from immigrating or keeping them under house arrest or in internment camps? 

We'll talk to three immigrants to this country: Milan Kovacovic is a professor of French here at UMD and came to this country from France when he was 14;  Mike Jaros is a former Minnesota State Representative, representing District 7B from 1972 to 1980 and then again from 1984 to 2009.  He came to America from Bosnia when he was 17.  Abe Al-Qudah left his native Jordan for America 15 years ago.  He has a masters degree from UMD and he is the president of the Islamic Center of the Twin Ports.