Who in good conscience can abide the cries from the right calling for us, in the words of The Donald, to “bomb the shit out of ISIS,” as if raining terror on far-off suffering civilians will show ISIS who’s boss. This is a stupid knee-jerk overreaction that has no place here, in France, or in any other Western democracy. Aren’t the several hundred thousand Iraqi civilians we collaterally killed evidence enough that shock and awe constitute crimes against humanity and invite blowback? And when that blowback comes in the form of suicide bombs and machine gun attacks, some mistakenly call such acts cowardly, while managing to think that high-altitude bombing and drone attacks aren’t.
Had Obama closed the door to Syrians instead of begrudgingly opening it a crack more, the GOP would say that it took too long and he should have sealed it up with duct tape. But holy moly, look—he’s letting more in. To the barricades! And so, 26 states—all led by Republican governors—have already surrendered to ISIS and may well be preparing to erect fences at their borders. There go your real cowards, along with the chicken hawks who want to declare war and send other people’s kids to fight and die in the desert for Team USA.
Republicans think allowing Syrians sanctuary here puts America at risk of terrorist attacks that we already spend billions to prevent. Where’s that old GOP can-do spirit? I assume they are proud to be part of a nation built by people taking enormous risks to come here and to succeed. They cheerlead entrepreneurs, who they say thrive on risk. They send our servicemen and women to unwinnable wars on flimsy pretenses, not considering the downside risks. But that one in a million chance that a green-carded Syrian will do some of us in is somehow an unacceptable risk. Given that not one Mideast refugee the US has taken in has ever turned to terrorism, exactly what risk does anti-refugee crowd feel would be avoided by turning away displaced Syrians? That risk has to be miniscule compared to the everyday risks Americans face from gun violence and mass shootings, usually perpetrated by Christians. So maybe we should stop resettling Christian refugees too. But don’t restrict our right to bear arms because we will need them to battle ISIS in the streets and in the hills.
The US House, by a veto-proof majority that included some Democrats, just passed a bill to “reform” the resettlement process in a way that will make it impossible for the foreseeable future. On the same day, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana told two Christian relief agencies to send elsewhere Syrian refugees destined for Indiana, aborting their expectations after two or three years in bureaucratic limbo. To his Christian constituents who approve of his actions, I say stop invoking Jesus to cover your heretical asses. You are no more Christian than Osama bin Laden.
Let’s stop all this pitiful, juvenile, opportunistic, and above all cowardly grandstanding and maligning of Muslims. Let’s show the world that we are who we say we are: the land of the free and the home of the brave.
How can we do that? Well, consider the tiny country of Iceland (pop. 330,000). The most peaceful country in the world is stepping up to help people fleeing the least peaceful one. Iceland’s government announced this summer that it would take in 50 Syrian refugees, the minimum it is obligated to accept under a UN treaty. Icelanders didn’t think much of that, and last month a teacher and writer named Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir set up a Facebook page where Icelanders can volunteer to open their homes to refugees so more of them could be sheltered.
The government of Iceland has received many letters asking it to admit more refugees and is considering how to respond to the offers posted on Facebook and elsewhere. It seems that many more than 50 will be settled there.
The number of Icelanders offering to house refugees was by September over 10,000 and is still rising. That’s roughly five percent of all the households in Iceland. People from other countries are also posting to the Facebook group offering to take in refugees, and refugees themselves use the page to ask for help.
Next, President Obama said that the US would step up and set a national goal of accepting 10,000 war refugees. That may sound like a lot to some, but that’s how many refugees arrive in Munich every day. Now consider: If five percent of American families were to volunteer their homes, as in Iceland, even at one refugee per home they could house 10 million people—more than all the war refugees from the Middle East. But of course, as we are now witnessing, nothing like that is going to happen in this great country of ours. The risks are simply unacceptable to our pols, who would feel the heat if one single ISIS sympathizer were to self-destruct in a shopping mall.
How curious it is that such a small country with so few resources can be so generous while the big rich ones—Germany excepted—are so stingy. As an American, Paul Fontaine, editorialized about this shameful hypocrisy in the Reykjavik Grapevine,
Those of us living in Europe and North America cannot simply rain death and destruction on countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and then tell the people living there who survived – people just like you and me, in other circumstances – that they are unwelcome to have a better life in the land that destroyed theirs.
Enough with this Chicken Little shit. We are better than that. Let’s make an AirBnB that welcomes desperate migrants we created. That is, if they want to live in this insane society.