So I guess the Syrian refugee crisis is the latest complex issue we're supposed to pretend to have all figured out.
Well, perhaps against my better judgment, I'm going to admit that I don't have it figured out, exactly. To be honest, I hadn't even thought much about refugee policy until very recently. I haven't spent very much time studying the legal and moral arguments for and against the various different sides. I haven't investigated the theological justifications for all of the possible positions on the subject. I'm not an expert by any means. What I know about the relevant history I learned just in the last couple of days by reading a few articles, and all of the articles I've read have been extraordinarily biased. I have read zero books relating to this issue.
I don't think I'm alone in this. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that just about 99.999999 percent of the people who've been yammering authoritatively about the refugee crisis never even considered the problem of refugees until it became a trending topic. Now, they're quite sure that whoever disagrees with the half-baked opinion they hastily assembled 12 seconds ago is a fool and a bigot. That's just how the internet works, I know, but it's still annoying.
Since we're on the topic of half-baked opinions, I'll tell you mine.
I don't have the answers, and I know that no matter how you feel, America taking in a comparative handful of refugees won't solve anything. The real problem is that the Muslim Middle East is a horrible, awful place, and it has been for a long time, and it will continue to be as long as Islam breeds violence and savagery. Even if we provide shelter to some limited number of lucky people, Islamic State will still exist, and even if Islamic State stops existing, some other fanatical group of Islamic marauders and killers will take its place. I don't think anything will "solve" that until Jesus returns, but in the mean time, we do what we can to cope and fight back.
On that note, considering all of the intricacies of the situation, there are a few points I think I can make with relative confidence:
1) The refugees probably aren't terrorists.
There have been over 850,000 refugees admitted into the United State in the last 15 years or so. None of them have ever perpetrated terrorist attacks against this country. Only three were convicted of planning attacks that would have carried out in another nation, which means there's about one would-be terrorist for every quarter of a million refugees.
Some have claimed that the Boston Bombers were refugees. That's not quite true, but if it were, it wouldn't be relevant to the matter at hand. The killers in Boston entered as children on tourist visas and their father sought asylum once he was already here. This is different from a refugee because refugees are selected by the government, vetted (supposedly), and brought here under that designation.
This combination of file photos shows brothers Tamerlan, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. AP Photos/Lowell Sun and FBI, File
Anyway, the Tsarnaevs weren't terrorists when they came. They were radicalized sometime after arriving, which is really the biggest threat we face. The terrorists who attacked the Draw Muhammad event in Texas were citizens who became bloodthirsty animals through militant Islamic anti-American propaganda. Likewise, the Paris attackers who've been identified were Europeans, not refugees or asylum-seekers. The police found a Syrian passport amid the carnage, but we don't know if it's legitimate, and even if it is, the terrorist wasn't a refugee invited into France under that guise.
More to the point, it seems logical that if Islamic State wants to come to America, they'll either attempt to recruit American citizens (like they did with the Garland attackers), or they'll just board a plane and head over. I'd imagine it's much easier and more efficient to obtain a real or fake passport than to go undercover as a refugee for years, potentially.
Besides, our borders are porous. If a terrorist doesn't want to risk flying into Baltimore International Airport like a normal traveler, he can sneak in the same way 20 million other illegals have entered. It appears that, out of all the available options, infiltrating as a refugee would be the riskiest and least effective. And totally unnecessary. The 9/11 hijackers came over on visas. It seems Islamic State terrorists could likely just do the same.
2) That said, it's reasonable and not at all un-Christian to question the wisdom of taking in large numbers of these refugees, in this circumstance, at this moment, right now.
Very few people are against the United States resettling refugees in principle. If that opinion exists, I think it's wrong and cruel. In principle, America ought to help the suffering when it can, but always while keeping its own safety and security and sovereignty as the first priority. Our leaders are called by God and required by their oaths of office to serve their own people first. This doesn't mean we ignore the plight of foreigners, but it does mean the plight of foreigners should never be prioritized over the plight of our countrymen.
Once all of this is considered in proper proportion and perspective, and if our government is ensuring that no undue burdens are being placed on its citizens, we should reach out to the persecuted and oppressed, just as we have many times in the past. However, that doesn't mean we should immediately open the floodgates to a vast swarm of Muslim migrants from a land where a dangerous jihadist ideology festers and spreads like leukemia. I believe it's very reasonable to take a pause here, reassess, and figure out very precise and careful parameters for admitting these people.
The FBI director testified last month that they don't currently have the ability to conduct background checks on all 10,000 of the refugees President Barack Obama wants to let in. That is a serious problem. It is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable that a single migrant from a Muslim country would be settled here without a thorough background investigation performed beforehand.
See, this is why the anti-refugee crowd gets defensive. There appears to exist a mindset -- a mindset shared by our president -- that we should fling open the doors and welcome these people based on their own assurances, and then perhaps double back and check them out once they've already moved in to some neighborhood in Minnesota or wherever. That is reckless. That is insane. That is entirely indefensible. If the FBI itself says it can't, at this point, verify all of the refugees we're about to resettle, then we need to stop until we can.
As I said, I don't think these refugees are terrorist double agents, but I don't want them admitted under that mere assumption. At any rate, it's not just terrorists we're worried about. Even if they are not Islamic State operatives, we still cannot afford to import radical Islamic ideology into this country. I don't know how you check for ideology -- which is another argument against introducing large numbers of these refugees into our communities -- but my greatest worry is that we'll be inviting thousands of people who harbor Middle East-style Islamic beliefs. That might not make them terrorists, but it makes them susceptible to radicalization, and, perhaps most importantly, it means they will never be assimilated into our culture.
People pass railway tracks as they approach the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija,Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. Hundred of thousands migrants and refugees trying to reach the heart of Europe via Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Hungary have faced dangers, difficulties and delays on every link of the journey. (AP Photo/Borce Popovski)
Pro-refugee folks, particularly liberals, have attempted to draw parallels between this refugee crisis and the Jewish refugee crisis during World War II. The only problem with that comparison is that America is a different place now, financially and culturally -- and Jews are not Muslims. Jews weren't blowing themselves up in crowded marketplaces or gunning down random civilians in Paris. Jews weren't waging a war against all of humanity. Jews weren't likely to subscribe to an ideology that believes all non-Jews should be burned alive or stoned to death. There is a difference between Jewish refugees and Muslim ones, and to deny that fact is unhelpful and ridiculous.
Here's the thing: Americans -- including Christians -- are allowed to care about their culture. They're allowed to demand that migrants assimilate. They're allowed to feel concerned about the safety and security of their families. They're allowed to think about the financial implications, and wonder how and why taxpayers should be made to accommodate thousands of (additional) foreigners on the welfare rolls.
Yes, Jesus calls us to help the less fortunate, but He doesn't dictate government policy, and He doesn't prescribe exactly how we ought to care for these particular less fortunate, in this particular situation, at this particular moment in history. Christians can have differing views on this. I understand Christians who say "let them come," but I cannot tolerate Christians who tell other Christians they're bad or evil or less Christian-y for cautiously considering all of the things I just outlined.
3) There are other ways to help.
One way or another, eventually, in some capacity, we are going to bring in some refugees, and I believe we should (provided the above conditions are met). But no matter what, it's not going to be enough. We can't allow them all to come, although I'm sure Obama would be fine with it because he figures they'll all be Democrat voters down the line. But among the sane and the honest, we realize the refugee crisis must be addressed primarily through other means.
What are the other means? Well, safe zones in the Middle East protected by NATO forces would be a start. Also, the onus has to fall on other Muslim countries to take in the lion's share. That would be the best for everyone involved, anyway. Muslim refugees should, for their own sake and ours, predominately go to Muslim countries, because Muslim countries have a Muslim culture. It's very simple.
4) We absolutely should discriminate.
To discriminate simply means to distinguish between two things. We should distinguish when it comes to refugees. Obama, being a deeply dishonest and all around contemptible man, has mocked American citizens who are wary of the refugees. Obama is an architect who specializes in strawman construction, and in this case he strawmans by pretending all of the refugees are "3-year-old orphans." That, of course, is untrue. A great many of them are young single men of fighting age.
Still, some are orphans. Some are widows. Some are families. I believe we ought to prioritize young orphans first, then widows, then families. Children and women can be terrorists, sure, but it's less likely. And even if young boys and girls are turned into suicide bombers in Syria, I think it's safe to surmise that most toddler refugees aren't brainwashed suicidal killers on a mission to destroy.
To whatever extent it's possible to determine who is legitimately Christian, I also think they should be given preferential treatment. For one thing, Christians aren't going to be terrorists. For another, there's a greater likelihood that Christians will incorporate themselves into our culture. For still another, Christians will not necessarily be welcomed in other Middle Eastern countries like Muslim refugees might.
[sharequote align="center"]Children, women, families, Christians. These are the groups we ought to prioritize.[/sharequote]
Children, women, families, Christians. These are the groups we ought to prioritize. We can only resettle a limited number in our towns, and it makes sense, in my view, to concentrate those efforts on the safest and most helpless groups. Not every passenger on the Titanic could fit on a lifeboat, so they put the women and children on first. I propose an approximate strategy here.
Young single Muslim men will be better able to fend for themselves. And you could make the argument that some of these men ought to be fighting for the homeland rather than abandoning it to Islamic State. I understand the inclination to leave, but the situation will only get worse if no men are willing to stay, and fight, and, yes, possibly die.
5) Liberal hypocrisy has reached critical mass.
There are many rational, intellectually consistent arguments for taking in some refugees. Unfortunately for the people making those arguments, the loudest voices on the pro-refugee side are pathologically duplicitous and incoherent leftists. This is not a minor point. The refugee backlash is partly fueled by the fact that many Americans are, frankly, just fed up with listening to liberal bull crap. I don't blame them.
It strikes me that progressives have now started insisting that America has always had a tradition of valiantly defending and helping the weak and suffering. Usually, they tell us the United States has been nothing but a parasitic bastion of bigotry and oppression. So which is it?
Similarly, progressives have long contended that the government is not a moral authority and should be driven not by "Christian values," but by practicality. Today, suddenly, they argue that our government ought to embrace the world's poor, huddling masses because it's the compassionate, moral, "Christian" thing to do. So which is it?
If the government ought to be a moral agent, then I suppose progressives will finally admit that the State should protect unborn children in the womb? Let's call them "fetal refugees," if that makes them more sympathetic. But if the government ought to ignore its moral obligations when it comes to the millions of human children who've been butchered in abortion clinics, why should it become a benevolent, empathetic force for the Third World masses?
Personally, I adopt a more cogent philosophy. I believe the government should always act both legally and morally, and that it should always protect human life to any extent that it reasonably can. That means it should grant human status to every human being, and to every unborn citizen it should provide justice and constitutional protections. For refugees, it should do what it is able to do without reneging on its duties to its own people.
I think this is a rational and moral position. I cannot, on the other side of it, even begin to comprehend how a person could be moved to overwhelming sympathy for 19-year-old Muslim men but not for helpless babies in the womb, no matter their ethnicity or race or circumstance. It makes no sense. It's deranged. It's demented. It's liberal.
6) Nobody will be talking about this next week.
I have to admit, I was impressed with our culture when the Charlie Sheen HIV revelation hit this week and didn't manage to overshadow the refugee story. I thought for sure a celebrity's STD would dethrone complicated foreign affairs as the Hot Topic of the Moment. It didn't. Good job, society.
But, even so, the Syrian refugee problem has been going on for years, and only in the last couple of days has it been The Thing Everyone's Talking About. Just last week, the whole country was in a tizzy because a couple of black kids at Mizzou were called mean names. The refugee thing was happening then just as it is now, but a lot of people were far more concerned about the mean words. And before that, they were far more concerned about something else. And before that, something else. Etc. This week I've heard many people declaring that this is the humanitarian crisis of our time and WE MUST DO SOMETHING. Well, the "humanitarian crisis of our time" was going on before this past Friday, yet most of these people weren't making those proclamations then.
The news cycle will move on. Social media will find other things to talk about. Virtually nothing stays "trending" for more than a week, no matter how important. The Planned Parenthood scandal stayed at the forefront of the public conscience for 18 minutes, and after that, only a devoted few continued to pay attention to it or talk about it. Even the Republicans in Congress have all but dropped the "Defund Planned Parenthood" fight. It was important to them for a moment, but not anymore.
The Syrian refugees will suffer the same fate. Soon -- probably next week -- the news media will be putting something else at the front of their broadcasts, news sites will be trumpeting different stories in their headlines, and the "activists" on social media will have reverted back to their normal profile pictures and will be SUPER ANGRY AND OUTRAGED AND CONCERNED about something else entirely. That's the way it goes. That's the way it always goes.
So my final thought is this: if this issue is important to you, no matter your opinion, it should remain important next week, and the week after, and next month, and next year. Even when everyone else has moved on, you should still be invested in it and worried about it, and crucially, doing something about it.
I've been saying this about Planned Parenthood for months. A lot of people moved on. I didn't. I won't. If you feel called to make the refugee epidemic a priority in your life, you shouldn't move on, either.
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