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Katrina victims not 'refugees'

The language being used to describe the situation in New Orleans is very interesting to me. One word that is especially interesting is "refugee." I've seen it in most of the news reports and didn't feel it fit Americans in crisis, so I looked it up. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary describes a refugee as "one that flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or prosecution." There are no other definitions.

Makes me wonder why that word is being used. Our vocabulary is rich with alternatives. Likewise, I think words are sometimes purposely chosen. I think that to call the people in crisis in New Orleans "refugees" is to softly, gently separate them as Americans from America. I think we're talking about race. This morning, my white, Mormon bus driver said, "It just seems strange to me. I wonder if they were white people, if more wouldn't have been done, faster."

Life is always tougher for "refugees."

Don Merrill

Salt Lake City