It’s been a week since the bombings in Beirut and Paris. Like most people, I’m angry and scared. I’m as angry at our country’s reactionary responses to the tragedy as I am at ISIS. I’m as afraid of the violence the bigotry and racism and xenophobia might produce as I am of terrorist violence. Syrians have been fleeing their country by the hundreds of thousands over the past year to travel to Europe to find refuge. All told, 12 million Syrians have fled violence and war in their country. Half of these are children. Now, because one terrorist has been connected to a Syrian passport, politicians and pundits are calling for a ban on Syrian refugees coming to the United States. Some governors, including Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker, are saying their state will refuse to accept the refugees. I am horrified and ashamed of this response. Governors have no authority to accept or reject immigrants, that is the job of the federal government. More importantly, if your neighbor’s house is on fire, you don’t set up an extraordinarily difficult set of requirements before you help them find shelter. I am bewildered that during this holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, both stories of refugees seeking sanctuary, that people in America are advocating turning our backs on our brothers and sisters fleeing terrorism and war. My gratitude practice has been difficult to keep over the last week, but I realize that I am very grateful for something in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks. I am extremely grateful for the voices of sanity and reason that are rising up against the chorus of bigotry, fear, and hatred.
I am grateful for President Obama’s commitment for the U.S. to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. I am also grateful for his calling out those, especially conservative politicians, who would turn American’s back on the refugees:
“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic. We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks. Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America.”
I am grateful for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate urging sanity and compassion:
“These events test us. It is easy to proclaim that we are tough and brave and good-hearted when threats feel far away, but when those threats loom large and close by, our actions will strip away our tough talk and reveal who we really are. We face a choice. A choice either to lead the world by example or to turn our backs to the threats and the suffering around us.”
I am grateful for World Vision and others publishing facts about the Syrian refugee crisis:
- 12 million Syrians have fled their homes because of conflict; half are children.
- 4 million Syrians are refugees; most are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
- Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school.
- More than 700,000 Syrian refugees and other migrants risked their lives this year to travel to Europe.
I am grateful for the people at Think Progress who made an excellent video that’s circulating on social media. The video uses data from The Economist to point out facts about refugees and terrorism. Since the 9-11 attacks, 750,000 refugees have been resettled in the United States and NOT ONE of them has been linked to terrorism. Also, the current process for vetting refugees to the U.S. is incredibly stringent and takes over two years.
I am grateful for the people at Buzz Feed Yellow for the video “I’m a Muslim, but I’m not a Terrorist,” that reminds us all Muslims are not terrorists. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, just shy of 25% of the world’s population. Only a very tiny fraction are terrorist, the same way only a very tiny fraction of Christians or Atheists are terrorists.
I am grateful for Mark Sundeen at Salon.com for his satire on wanting to ban White Male Protestants from the U.S. because of all the terrorism they commit, such as:
- Columbine Massacre was committed by White Male Protestants
- Aurora Theatre massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- Sandy Hook Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- Tucson Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- Roseburg Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- Charleston Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- Oak Creek Sikh Temple Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- San Ysidro McDonalds Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
- UT Austin Tower Massacre was committed by a White Male Protestant
It’s easy, and very human, to instinctively vent our fear and vulnerability as hatred and aggression and revenge. The better part of our nature calls us to forsake those responses so that we do not become the very monsters we fear.