I was not surprised, but nonetheless saddened, by the report in the Jan. 22 edition of the News-Herald, "County opposes refugees." It reminded me of the history of American failure to live up to the inscription on the Statue of Liberty that invites the poor and tired and hungry to our shores.

We took the land of the first people here without compensation. We socially rejected the Irish, Poles and Catholics. And let us not forget the Italians and Jews. We forced Africans to come work for us and have discriminated against them even to the present day.

The South in many ways continues to live with a plantation mentality. We have always been ready and able to attach slurs to those we dislike. Our president continues the list and expands on it by having a derogatory name for anyone who offends him. The thoughts behind it are embedded in our lifestyle and culture. Indeed, most all of us experience slurs, certainly in high school, if we are in any way different from the mainstream. Fortunately, most of us leave that experience of high school behind us as we move on through life.

Commissioner Van Shaver went further. He didn't think it the "proper time to be adding more immigrants or refugees or whatever you want to call them in Loudon County." He leaves us to call them what we wish.

Upon reading that statement, I thought, why not call them what they are: human beings. They are people just like our ancestors who sought a better life, a living wage and security in a place having a rule of law. I marvel how much immigrants who have settled among us have contributed to the benefit of our nation. I have observed many Hispanics who work hard, shop locally and, I presume, pay their taxes like the rest of us.

Give the newcomers time. They will also come to enrich our society, and that needs our recognition and appreciation.

John Marius

Lenoir City