Initially, I was going to write about the Paris bombings and how they shook me to the core. Of course, then I heard about the bombings in Beirut and Baghdad, and I became even more despairing. These are horrible tragedies committed by a group driven by an extremist religious ideology that states that anyone who doesn’t bend to their rule will be destroyed. This should frighten anyone who values open and free societies.
But then I heard of the effort of some governors to refuse to accept Syrian refugees, and my fear turned to anger. I could spout statistics and facts about the strenuous vetting process any one seeking asylum to this county undergo. I could tell you that there have been no documented cases of those coming to our country in this manner committing terrorist acts. I could tell you that you have more chance being shot by some White terrorist than any Syrian refugees. And I could tell you that the majority of those refugees are women and children.
But the thing that really angers and disgusts me is the lack of basic human empathy. The fear mongering and xenophobic rantings that have been spewed by mostly right-wing reactionaries are examples of humanity at its absolute worst. Too many people have let these Nationalist demagogues convince them that these refugees are a Trojan Horse for letting terrorists sneak in to our country. What’s even more stomach-churningly despicable is that many of them are doing it for ratings or votes. They are using these fleeing innocents as pawns in their never-ending quest to make the masses paranoid as possible, so they can satiate their appetite for war.
ISIS wants this to happen. They want us to close our doors. They purposely left a fake Syrian passport at the site of one of the Paris attacks to provoke just such a reaction. Apparently, it’s working to some extent, because it’s brought out the worst in many of our fellow citizens. I am no Obama booster; I have vehemently disagreed on many of his policies. But I think the stand he took and the words he spoke, which basically shamed those who would use fear and hatred to stoke the fires of ‘otherism’.
It may be a cliché, but we can’t let these attacks turn us into a people full of fear and hatred. We must open our hearts and doors to those who are suffering, no matter where they come from. Otherwise, we become the thing they want us to be : A propaganda victory.