Americans Are Spoiled and Selfish Brats
Syrian refugees. Russia. Religious persecution. Displaced people. Islamic extremism. Xenophobia. Christians. Jews. Buddhists. Radical jihadists. Terrorism. War. Bombs. Holy war. Europe. Paris. Belgium. Turkey. Islamophobia. North America. Religion. Theocracy. Fascism.
Those words represent the real world problems that we’d rather not think or talk about. They’re ‘topics’ that tug at our emotions and dominate the evening news. War and the threat of violence elicit the best from people, or in some cases the worst.
While we worried about getting the Thanksgiving turkey in the oven and made a mental note about picking up cousin Henry from the train station, as we searched for our Black Friday shopping list, there were human beings on the other side of the world dodging bullets and bombs. Sure — they’re seven thousand three hundred and twenty miles away in Syria and Iraq, and not in our backyards, but we know that violence and terror is inching closer to our shores.
I have a knot of discomfort lodged in my stomach. That feeling is triggered when I think about the human beings being wantonly murdered and slaughtered due to their religious and/or political beliefs.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the conflict in Syria, especially within the context of our lives here in the west. By comparison, we’re spoiled and selfish brats here in the United States. Our nation has the wealthiest people, the strongest economy, and a war machine that is second to none. We go to sleep at night knowing that any attack on our people, on our soil, will result in immediate retribution. We know that our armed forces are ready to protect us. The Syrian people don’t have that security. Some Americans claim that we could import terrorists by admitting refugees, as they ignore the Christian terrorists who live right next door.
It shocks me to hear people say that we have to keep our vast resources to ourselves. It’s pathetic and un-American to say that we need to reject the refugees from a war because of their religion or political beliefs. And yet that’s exactly what many Republicans running for President, and GOP members of Congress (and some idiotic Democrats) are proposing. It’s no wonder that Republicans are the party of angry old white men.
Think about the refugees and the Syrian people. Syria had a population of 17M million when their civil war began. It was ordinary citizens who started protesting against al-Assad and demanding democracy. Most people didn’t join the rebels or the Syrian army. They were civilians living life, just like you and me.
On the ground in Syria are multiple contingents of rebel forces on different sides of the conflict, and Bashar al-Assad has his Syrian army, with the terrorist organization (that I’d rather not name) doing battle against the Syrian and Iraqi people, and the rest of the world.
How can the Syrian people distinguish between who is the good guy or the bad guy? I’d say anyone with a weapon is a bad guy. Is it any wonder that war and violence has created a humanitarian crisis? Where are the refugees supposed to go?
The US, France, Qatar, Russia and Turkey are just a few of the coalition forces dropping bombs, while the Syrian people are collateral damage. When innocent civilians are slaughtered — who is to blame? We’re not perfect, and every time an airstrike goes awry, we’re validating our enemies hatred for the west (and bolstering their recruiting efforts in the process). We could counteract those mistakes by opening our doors to refugees.
Everyone seems to conveniently forget that WE are a nation of immigrants. The first settlers arrived and stole the land from native Americans. The United States was founded by men and women who were refugees escaping religious persecution and oppression, which is why they endured a treacherous ocean crossing in their search for religious freedom.
Does any of that sound familiar? That’s exactly what Syrians are doing today. They are running from war and religious and political oppression, enduring treacherous conditions, as they look for a safe refuge.
Our founding fathers went to extremes to keep all references to religion and God out of our government and political institutions. The separation of church and state sets us apart from most countries around the world, and that’s what makes our country great. We’ve all become acclimated to our diverse society, and there’s no reason to think that Syrian refugees won’t do the same.
I get really angry when I hear ignorant Republican candidates for President musing about taking away Constitutional rights, or discussing registries, databases and internment camps. You’re not an American if you’re a proponent of imprisoning or oppressing people who identify as Muslim and study the Quran, the holy book of Islam.
I have a knot of discomfort lodged in my stomach. That feeling is triggered when I think about Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, and discriminating against people due to their religious beliefs. I think it’s selfish and bratty to bar Syrian refugees from entering the United States.
I reach for my iPhone 6S plus to post a link on Twitter, take a sip from a dirty martini, and wonder if Tums will make that knot of discomfort in my stomach disappear.