France and America want to bomb ISIS in Syria. Sixteen U.S. states refuse entry to the subsequent Syrian refugees, because some of them might be terrorists. American Islamophobia is alive and kicking.
(11-16-2015, updated 07-14-2018) So here we are.
I guess they have to attack ISIS in Syria; for one thing, ISIS is killing regular citizens, which is resulting in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe. But the idea that we could eliminate ISIS or extremist Muslims whatever their name of the hour is, seems completely hopeless. There has to be something else that can be done at the same time.
One of those things would be welcoming the Syrian refugees with open arms. People all over Facebook are saying we should show compassion. I’m not capable of having compassion with the most brutal killers of the century, but we can definitely have compassion with the refugees. Look what they’ve been through just to get away from ISIS. Many of these are middle class people–teachers, doctors, engineers, college students. Educated folks, most of whom are either moderate Muslims or Christians.
One of the very few things we can do is welcome them and let them see what living in a democracy is like, what it’s like for women not to live in constant fear. And then we can only hope that their emails and other social media communications with friends and relatives back home give moderate Muslims in the Middle East a greater voice, or at least the awareness of what is possible.
If ISIS can radicalize young people in Europe and America via social media, moderate Muslims in Europe and America might also be able to get to young men in the Middle East and do the opposite. It’s better than nothing, anyway. Also, having a larger population of moderate Muslims from the Middle East in the country could benefit homeland security. These folks can help look out for extremists.
But no, predictably enough, American states are already not making a distinction between the terrorists and the folks fleeing them because they just want to live their lives in peace. Sure, there’s risk involved; ISIS has already proven that they can move around by posing as refugees. So admitting Syrian refugees would have to go along with thorough screening, and anyone who seems even the least bit off–well, just keep an eye on them for a while. I’m not being naive; I just think that you can’t turn away so many innocent people just as winter is getting serious because there might be one or two bad apples among them. This Islamophobia is just going to make matters worse.
(This post was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “Where is Our Compassion?”, 11-16-2015)
- Header image: mine. Slightly altered photo of a mural in Austin, TX (sign shopped out)