MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD., November 19, 2015 – The world is reeling from the terrorist’s acts in Paris last week.
It appears that the wishes of some US politicians to have the French experience the horror of September 11, 2001 have come true. Some politicians made those statements in 2003 after France refused to support the invasion of Iraq.
The United States and France have responded to the attacks differently in at least one key area: refugees. The French president declared that France will still accept 30,000 Syrian refugees and spend over $50 million for this endeavor despite the attacks. The people of France are not afraid to meet their commitment to those in dire straits as the result of the turmoil in the Middle East.
The US, on the other hand, says it will end the program to allow refugees into America. Previously, the US had agreed to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees; close to one quarter of them have already been approved. These refugees are the most heavily vetted in our history. Their conditions are very different to those who have flooded into Europe in the last year.
Ironically, this turmoil was caused by the US invasion of Iraq that destabilized the whole region. This is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.
ISIS definitely has our number. Even before the French were terrorized, there was a significant opposition to accepting these refugees by the Right wing. Recent surveys indicate that after the events in Paris, over 60% of those surveyed oppose accepting any Syrian refugees. Some politicians have even qualified their opposition by stating that only Christian refugees should be accepted. The governor of New Jersey, has declared that the state will not accept even children.
President Obama has stated that he will veto any attempt to limit the number of refugees that we had committed to accept.
Statements by the Republican candidates did not disappoint. They are calling for the increase of American military boots in Iraq. For a modern day Rip Van Winkle, if he woke up today after going to sleep during the days before the invasion of Iraq (and maybe during the Vietnam War), he would think that his slumber only lasted a few days.
Are these patriots willing to send their children and grandchildren to fight against to Caliphate?
The objective of terrorism is to scare the population into doing things that the terrorists think will enhance their position.
When we go against our principle of helping refugees or discriminating according to religion, we play right into the hands of the fanatics. We in fact improve their recruiting and give them material to disseminate lies about our racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance.
In 1940 the USS St. Louis came to our shore with over 900 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and we denied them asylum. Half of them died in concentration camps.
There is no reason to be afraid. Statistics show that the average American civilian has thousands of times more chance of dying from a heart attack or an auto accident than from an act of terrorism, both here and overseas. The number of Americans killed in terrorist acts, not taking into account domestic mass shootings, is less than 50 in the last five years. You are in more danger by your neighbor discharging his gun accidentally or otherwise.
Let us not give into irrational fear and forget our role in the world.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, believes in the words on the Statue of Liberty. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).
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