Vacuums, Guns, Teaser

M2D Newsletter 1 (3.28.17)

First, some relevant news, and second, an update on Monsters to Destroy.

This fiscal year, the U.S. will take in about 21,000 refugees, well below the cap of 45,000 set by the Trump administration, and roughly a quarter of those granted entry in the final year of Obama’s presidency.

Unlike my friend Jesse…

…that policy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. On one hand, fighting continues in Syria. Backed by Russia, Assad regime forces encircle the last rebel-held town near Damascus. At least 70,000 civilians are trapped. A low refugee cap means we take in fewer people forced to flee from ongoing conflicts; conflicts that we often exacerbate or even create.

Obvious examples include Iraq and Afghanistan, where millions of people are still out of their homes. Our wars in those countries are now old enough to drive, jokes Thomas Brennan, a retired marine who runs The War Horse, a nonprofit newsroom focused on covering the military and veterans affairs. His work is featured in an article that highlights the importance of veteran voices in newsrooms given their “highly attuned nose for bullshit.”

Our lax gun laws represent a less obvious example of how U.S. policies affect displaced populations. A huge percentage of illegal guns recovered in Central and Latin America [pay-gate] are sold in the States. From 2009–2014, 70% of guns recovered in Mexico came from the U.S., and American gun manufacturers make more than $100 million in annual revenue from the illegal trade. This business fuels the violence that has led to 150,000 unaccompanied minors from the region seeking asylum here since 2014.


On Monday night I delivered M2D at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. I was impressed by the students’ engagement and activism, and I had a great time until they asked me maddeningly difficult questions.

One young lady from Istanbul asked what I think of the EU-Turkey refugee agreement (the EU pays Turkey to resettle Syrian refugees). Another from Lebanon asked how I think the Lebanese can improve their approach to hosting refugees (after Turkey, Lebanon hosts the most displaced Syrians in the world). A third student, who has spent time with refugees in Clarkston, GA (one of the most diverse cities in the country) asked if I think becoming friends with refugees changes our perceptions of them.

If you’re interested in learning more about the first two questions, I’m happy to rehash my poor attempts at the answers with you directly. I’ll reiterate here my response to the third question, which is if you know how to make friends with anyone, please let me know ASAP.


If you haven’t seen the teaser I posted on Facebook yesterday, check it out and give it a like!

Ben