Friday, November 20, 2015

Why so Syria?

I often say "I don't know where to begin," but every time I say it I feel it so much more genuinely than I did the time before. Perhaps it's because every time I've said it before, I've ultimately started anyway and then gone somewhere, however incoherent it may or may not have been.

Perhaps it's because I'm now prompted to articulate my thoughts on the most fucked clusterfuck of all clusterfucks in a very long time.

I'll let someone else start. Here is a fantastic and concise explanation of the Syrian conflict. If you don't understand why refugees are fleeing Syria (apart from the fact that there is a war going on), you should take the five minutes it requires to understand the basics of the war. If that doesn't make you bawl with frustration or confusion, here is another brilliantly concise video that focuses on the refugees (and the logistical problem of their flight from their homeland). Please watch both of these short videos before continuing.

Are we on the same page now? Do we not see how incredibly complex this crisis is, and how detrimental the implications are for people who are ultimately just like you and me?

The United States of America can and must accept Syrian refugees. We have the resources and the infrastructure to give these people homes and put them to work.

"But what about Paris?"

Yeah, what about it? The Syrian passport found near the body of one of the Daesh terrorists was not genuine. Regardless, the overwhelming majority of refugees (I'm sorry, I mean literally all of them) are fleeing from this brand of extremism and the havoc it very obviously wreaks. What happened in Paris, while utterly tragic and terrifying and awful, is infinitesimal compared to the kind of violence that Syrians are fleeing. Refugees are not the problem.

Speaking of Paris, I recall several prominent Republicans (and myriad conservative social media voices) using Le Bataclan as an example of the supposed horrors of gun control. "If only a few good guys in that audience had guns." Let's ignore how absurd of an idea it is that a bunch of dudes with concealed pistols firing randomly into the dark automatically makes everyone safer. How often, apart from the obviously infrequent terrorist attacks, are Parisians subject to gun violence? Is this anywhere near comparable to what Americans experience on a daily basis? Are you lying to me? Are you lying to me? Are you lying to me?

Sorry, I felt as if this piece deserved a good dose of Franz Kafka. Anyhow, if readily accessible guns are the solution to terrorism, why are Americans so worried about terrorists disguising themselves as refugees? It's been nearly seven years, and Obama hasn't taken anyone's guns. So what are you cowards actually afraid of? I thought we were supposed to be the land of the free AND the home of the brave. Put your money where your purrrrrrty mouth is, bitch.

Unless, of course, guns do more harm to Americans than terrorists. I mean, I'm sorry, guns don't kill people, people kill people. And American people kill an awful lot of people. So what exactly is to be gained from denying asylum to Syrian refugees? If anything, we'll have an influx of intelligent, creative, law abiding citizens. The horror! Besides, the NRA wants everyone to have a gun anyway, even if they already are on the official Terrorist Watchlist.

Governors officially declaring that they will refuse refugees (there are at least thirty of them) are political con artists. They're exploiting the xenophobia of their constituency to score cheap political points at the cost of stoking bigotry and violence. Governors do not have the power to block refugees from settling in their states. Again, the biggest threats to Americans are other Americans. We've resettled millions of refugees already and not one of them has committed an act of terror.

"But they're Muslims, Ben."

Well, yeah, and no. Most of them are Muslims. Some politicians are cool with only accepting Christian refugees. Others think that the vetting process needs to be more extensive than it already is. I'll remind you again that not a single one of the million or so refugees we've already taken in has committed an act of terror. Our vetting process is the best in the world. It already takes upwards of two years.

Also, generalizing all Muslims as terrorists, based on the actions of the most radical and extreme, is textbook bigotry. It was bigotry when the dreaded "Ground Zero Mosque" was considered a "slap in the face" to 9/11 survivors and their families, and it's bigotry when people smear their local mosque's walls with feces.

"But the Quran says..."

Well, the Bible says an awful lot of indecent and downright awful things as well. Plenty of people have been hurt, throughout both American and world history under the name of Christianity. Who are you to generalize all Muslims as taking every single word of the Quran literally? Christians get a pass with the Bible, as they rightfully should, and so too should Muslims. And what, pray tell, would Jesus do? Do you genuinely believe the middle eastern Jew who hung out with lepers and rejects would turn away some peaceful refugees? I really thought this was supposed to be a Christian nation. It's not, and that's okay, but if you want it to be, again, put your fucking money where your mouth is. Turn your other cheek. Love thy neighbor. I'm an atheist, and I share this sentiment. What is your excuse?

Lastly, we're playing into Daesh's hands by denying refugees. Call me a bleeding heart liberal all you want, it makes strategic sense to accept fleeing Syrians. The Islamic State's greatest resource is people. They operate with "convert or die" tactics (hence, again, why Syrians are fleeing. They'd rather not die OR join the Islamic State). If we take their people, we deprive them of a huge resource. By denying Syrians refuge, we also fan the flames of conflict and hatred. Refugee camps are rife with anti-Western sentiment and radical recruitment. Why wouldn't they be? You watched the videos, right? Refugee camps suck, and they suck so much because wealthy western nations will not accept (mostly non-white, mostly non-Christian) refugees. How could that not foster an air of resentment?

Lest we not forget, they're still fleeing conflict in their homeland because they foresee a brighter future for themselves elsewhere. They're willing to cross seas and oceans to make that future a reality. More of them will surely drown if we do not help them. More of them will surely become radicalized if we do not help them. More of them will surely die at the hands of extremists if we do not help them.

If you think ISIS is a death cult (which, yeah, they pretty much are), why would you give them exactly what they want by curtailing human liberty and engaging in perpetual war? It's un-American, inhumane, and illogical to deny Syrian refugees.