Strangers in the Land

Here’s something quite au point. In the current issue of The Nation, Corey Robin reviews two interesting books about immigration: Caroline Moorehead’s Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees and Seyla Benhabib’s The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents, and Citizens.

Despite the efforts of postmodern theorists to convince us that exile is the emblematic condition of modern life, when it comes to immigrants and refugees we still seem incapable of the barest gesture of recognition, much less empathy. We remember Oedipus Rex: lover of one parent, killer of another. We forget Oedipus at Colonus: exiled king who wandered twenty years in search of “a resting place” near Athens, “where I should find home” and “round out there my bitter life.” We feel Medea’s rage over Jason’s betrayal, driving her to kill their two sons. We scarcely notice her equally poignant–and more frequent–lament that she is “deserted, a refugee,” with “no harbor from ruin to reach easily.”

Read it all here.