Eager Vermonters learning Arabic to better assimilate into Syrian refugee culture


Vermonters are eager to get themselves some Syrian refugees. Really eager. So eager, in fact, that one town, Rutland, Vermont, repeatedly requested to get some Syrians sent their way! And not only that, but locals are learning Arabic (in a church, heh heh) to communicate with their soon to be new neighbors!

They hustled into the church on a biting winter evening, unburdened themselves of scarves and gloves, and settled into pews to sound out words in Arabic.

“Ahlan fii Rutland,” said Fran Knapp, a retiree who lives about 20 minutes away, one of two or three dozen people who have attended a class here on rudimentary Arabic.

Welcome to Rutland.

It was one of many preparations this remote city in central Vermont is making before 100 refugees from Syria and Iraq arrive here over the next year, with the first expected to come later this month.

Do you think the Church also offers classes on how to dress modestly and how to point your prayer rug to Mecca?

...the mayor of Rutland, Christopher Louras... [says] Syrian refugees... are an opportunity.... Syrian refugees, business leaders say, could become an integral part of that effort, both by adding to the population — if only slightly — and bringing cultural diversity that they hope will attract younger residents.

Isn't it great to have cultural diversity to attract younger residents? Imagine young, Syrian men, age 18-30, roaming the streets of Rutland, bringing a new kind of explosive vitality to the downtown!

Peter Shumlin, the departing Democratic governor, said Vermont would welcome Syrian refugees, and Mr. Louras texted the governor to see whether they could bring refugees to Rutland.

Do you think Louras also made a special request that they not be vetted or put through metal detectors?

“I saw that as an opportunity to grow our population, bring in individuals, families, new Americans from Syria who have a strong work ethic, who were fleeing for their lives and looking to rebuild those shattered lives,” Mr. Louras said.

A strong worth ethic? Was Syria the secret Singapore of the Middle East? Has Syria ever produced anything besides war? I think the "work" that Syrians are most known for is killing, with honorable mentions in slavery, rape, and intolerance.

But the Rutlanders are welcoming them with open arms. As Will Rogers might have said, a stranger is just a friend who might or might not detonate near you.

Questions for discussion:

1) Are the people of Rutland dupes, or active Islamophiles?

2) Can we expect Rutland to sign up to be a sister city with Aleppo anytime soon?

3) Do you think any of them will reconsider their position when burkas roam the streets and the call to prayer in Arabic is heard over loudspeakers at 4 AM?

[originally in AT]



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