One can only shake one’s head in shame at the sight of US Governors and Congress passing bills trying to limit the inflow of refugees. The reason? Fear that among them might be a potential terrorist. Paranoia rises in the wake of the Paris shootings, and when that happens people turn away from their best angels and entertain their most pathetic demons.
They have a host of Islamophobic websites designed to desecrate Islam and sow fear, feeding their hate. In so doing, they are the useful idiots of ISIS, aiding that extremist group in trying to achieve what ISIS can’t do on it’s own – a clash of civilizations.
First the danger: Yes, terrorists can strike, They killed over 100 in Paris. They could strike again in the US. They killed 3 in Boston at the marathon a couple years ago. It’s possible that a terrorist could sneak in with the refugees, though it’s easier for them to come in legally in other ways.
But 35,000 a year die in car accidents. In every two days gun violence kills as many as were killed in the Paris attacks. I could list horrid crimes of just the last week, such as the senseless mass killing of a family in Texas, that involve guns. Yet we accept the risk – we drive cars, we don’t do much to limit gun rights. The risk of dying in a terror attack is minuscule by comparison, yet many refuse to honor our ideals and do the right thing by helping people fleeing from a war zone. Governor Christie says he won’t even accept three year old orphans. When fear leads to a rejection of ones’ core values, it is pathological moral cowardice.
This is reminiscent of the bigotry and fear in 1939 when Americans overwhelmingly rejected increasing Jewish immigration – who wants them here?
But it’s worse. ISIS is not popular in the Islamic world. Their brand of extremism is contrary to the core values of the Koran and Islam, which is why most of the people they kill are Muslims. (Another aside – some whiners are complaining that we’re not calling their acts a ‘genocide of Christians.’ Well, given that most deaths are Muslim and only a few are Christian, that would be a rather bizarre claim!)
They use terror, sell Muslim women into slavery, and kidnap young children in order to indoctrinate them into their world. Syrians are generally well educated and secular – they don’t want their children taken and put into that kind of hell, they see life shatter around them, they are trying to get away from almost sure death or worse for their children.
ISIS wants us to hate the refugees. They want us to turn against Islam so they can bill themselves as fighting for Islam vs. the West. The Islamophobes here want the same thing. Either misguided by their own religious extremism or in the grips of a fascist like irrational hatred, they long to close down the mosques and eliminate Muslims from their communities – something fundamentally against American values. If they win the day, ISIS wins.
French President Francois Hollande understands that, and despite the real and present danger of on going terror attacks in France, reaffirmed his commitment to admit 30,000 refugees in the next two years. He is not chicken, the French have more bravery and moral courage than many Americans – they will not let ISIS get them to betray their values.
If our country gives in to the paranoia, Islamophobia, and fear that people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump spew — with rhetoric not that far removed from that of typical neo-fascist parties — then we’re no longer a beacon of moral courage and human rights. We’d be a country unwilling to stand by our values. That kind of moral decline inevitably leads to economic and political decline. We’re at a cross roads – fear or honor, which do we choose?
Luckily many Americans are speaking out, including religious groups (both liberal and conservative) across the country who recognize it’s not just against American values, but against Christian, Jewish and yes Muslim values not to accept refugees. John Kasisch, running for President, bizarrely called for a government agency to try to promote “Judeo-Christian values in the Mideast.” Besides sounding eerily like the crusades, it’s stupid. First, he wants to limit refugees, so he’s contradicting those very values. More importantly the values are not Judeo-Christian only, they are human values. They transcend our own culture, shared by Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and people around the planet.
But who are we to promote them if we don’t live by them? Time for all of us to do what we can to prevent our country from betraying its core values out of fear, hate and paranoia.