We have a problem in America. It isn’t quite on the very real possibility of death scale faced by millions of Syrians. Our problem is how to keep telling the world and ourselves that we are the good guys and the world’s moral compass while we utterly fail to live up to that standard.
We are afraid and bigoted, and we don’t want to admit it. Our Syrian problem is our hypocrisy. Our candidates pounce on that fear for their own gain. Trump wants a national registry of all Muslims and finds no shame in co-opting the playbook of Nazi Germany. Cruz and Rubio, the children of Cuban refugees, want to deny all Syrian refugees.
We don’t want to admit our substantial role in creating these terrorist threats because it damages our narrative of American exceptionalism. Our hands are dirty. Perhaps not any more so than many other countries, but we were at least at the scene of the crime, so to speak. While I think our efforts at regime building and toppling have pretty poor results, there is a rationale to them. One can agree or disagree with the rationale. To argue that we didn’t do it is hypocritical.
Then we arrive at the very real consequences; millions of people faced with death in their homeland and desperate for safe harbor. Here is where our hypocrisy becomes cringe worthy. This argument has been raging in politics, the media, and in social media for days now.
Some take the fiscal responsibility route. We are already operating in a deficit. Why should we borrow more money to help them? Well, we were operating in a deficit when we invaded Iraq and destabilized the entire region. However, I have a solution to suggest. Just a few months ago, our senate finance committee voted to continue tax breaks for large corporations , among others, that tallies $95 billion for this year and over a trillion dollars in the next 10 years. Let’s umm, not do that.
Some cleverly go for the moral high ground and refuse any refugee while we have homeless veterans. In my experience, these people seem to largely support the Republican senators who, with the exception of just two brave GOP souls, voted against the biggest spending bill for veterans in decades last year. Incidentally, that bill would have cost $21 billion over the next 10 years. (see note above about tax breaks totaling a trillion dollars over the same period.) I reject the binary choice of refugees or veterans. Let’s cut off fossil fuel subsidies and take care of veterans, homeless, refugees, pay for college for everyone, hungry children, and then scratch our heads about what to do with the money we still have.
Some admit they’re afraid with, “Great! Put the refugees in your house.” At least this is honest. Is there a possibility that some refugees may be terrorists? Of course. We choose to let children die because some might be “rabid dogs” as the always poignant Ben Carson described them? We have plenty of home grown terrorists, and all the same politicians yelling, “No Syrians!” are perfectly happy to arm them; as long as the NRA keeps writing checks. Personally, I’m much more concerned about the actual and repeated danger of the Dylann Roofs in our country than the potential risk of some percentage of people in dire need of aid. One of my favorite moments of irony in all this is the Texas politician who doesn’t want refugees because it is too easy to get guns in his state.
A large, large percentage of our population proclaim we are a Christian nation. All of our presidential candidates, save one, identify as Christian. Apparently none of the Christians calling to close our borders actually understands a nativity scene….you know, homeless middle eastern family in need of shelter? I also like when someone rants against helping these people in need but posted an “All lives matter,” meme a couple weeks ago.
29 nations are accepting refugees from the wars raging in the middle east. Germany is taking in 800,000. We’re having a hissy fit over 10,000 Syrians even though we accept around 70 to 80 thousand refugees per year. Interestingly, the two nations we most prop up in the middle east, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are not taking any. I guess we taught them well.
We are almost entirely a nation of refugees. Our ancestors came to escape limits and dangers. When did we create this, “I got mine, sucks to be you, stay out,” mentality?
Our Syrian problem is it reveals America is not great any more. This video is a fictional account but offers some eye opening statistics. What we can’t quantify is our hypocrisy and cowardice.