I didn’t even realize the date until I sat down to write this. Now that I think on it, it’s dreadfully appropriate.
I spent the day today dealing with setting up a refugee camp.
Not for the hurricane mess. Other folks have that task well in hand. I had been running around doing extra stuff for that but yesterday morning Avery tapped me on the shoulder and then she discretely walked me into a small room to ask me to handle a delicate situation.
At first I figured one of the guys in the kitchen — a real handsy playboy — had gotten too frisky with one of the college students one too many times. I was dreading the talk because he has fantastic knife skills and takes most of the prep off my shoulders for dinner.
No, this was way worse.
Turns out that the U.S.A. had finally and trully enacted the Muslim Registration Act, which, oh God I’m just figuring it out now, I’m so stupid, went into effect today. Of course it did. Fucking politicians and their god damned symbolism. Anyway….
Since a lot of Muslim communities in the U.S.A. have noticed a very very high “disappeared” rate in the past year or so, the registration act had a lot of them truly and deeply terrified. And so, suddenly, a number of large groups apparently picked up stakes and made for the border — the U.S.N.E. border. They arrived at the Vermont border just after dawn yesterday with plenty of stuff and, they thought, enough money for a decent grubstake.
They were leaving houses, property, buisinesses behind. But they were willing. And I got tapped to try and get a handful settled into Cambridge. Apparently, the fact that I know what “halal” means makes me a multicultural whizz. (Note to self — is that why there are no Muslims in the community kitchens? Can we start a halal kitchen so I don’t get stuck with this job again. ‘Cause it’s going to happen again…)
This seemed like a fairly easy job — find landlords willing to rent to the families, show them around, explain the T, basically give a freshman orientation. There were other places where the job wasn’t so easy — some of the refugees were showing up with no money, not nearly enough stuff, some were sick, some spoke little to no English. Apparently, someone has a sick fuck sense of humor and sent a whole bunch of very angry, very fundamentalist Muslims up to the northern end of New Hampshire to work on a farm up there. Hee. I’d pay to see that. But the smallish group they sent on to Cambridge (who is “they”? Do we even have an immigration office? A policy?) were all very well-educated, had good cash reserves, good job skills, good language skills. No chadors, anyway.
And then, this morning, their bank accounts got frozen. Apparently they didn’t make the transfers fast enough or something, I don’t know. Paul tried to explain it but I’m just too tired to grasp the complexities of interegnum international banking.
Suddenly the whole thing became much more complicated. Made even more complicated by the phone call in the middle of the day saying that I should prepare for a whole lot more over the weekend. Apparently some violence happened in Kansas City, of all places, right around lunchtime, and suddenly more Muslims are streaming east. I should start looking into ways to house and feed and clothe whole bunches more.
The thing is, I am mildly ashamed to admit that I really don’t understand what halal means. I mean, no pork, no booze, no blood, I get that. But I’m sure there’s more than that. And if they really want halal, meaning meat slaughted by a religious guy with the right paraphanalia, they are probably scrod. Can they eat scrod?
I have a lot of wiki-ing to do tonight. And reading books. And logistics.
And I have to talk Avery out of her brilliant idea to put this new group in Brookline. Sigh.