Friday, November 27, 2015

Musings: On the Syrian Refugees

As the eight of us sat around a beautifully-decorated table, our plates heaped with homemade food, our lives all on track — employed, healthy, happy — we spontaneously paused to reflect on our good fortune. Some of it, of course, was due to hard work, but much of it was luck, the well-dealt hand of fate that had spared us so much suffering.

“We could be Syrian refugees,” I said, and everyone laughed, and then grew quiet, as we pondered what it would mean to be traveling the Mediterranean in a small, overcrowded, leaky boat; seeing people drown; awaiting processing in a holding center; sleeping in the streets; homeless, afraid, with a very uncertain future. 

Or worse, being turned back at the border, forced to retrace a long, arduous journey to a war zone that none of us would ever wish to inhabit.
“We are humans, we have feelings, so please help us,” said one young girl on a CNN video, brushing the hair from her eyes.

For that reason alone, the United States needs to do much more to assist and accommodate the Syrian refugees. Yes, I know what people are afraid terrorists will slip in, but do you let that fear stop you from doing what is right by millions more? Haven't the terrorists won if we allow them to strip us of our compassion and humanity?

Consider this: 50% of the 7.6 million people displaced within Syria are children. They clearly aren't terrorists. They're innocent kids.
Others say we should “take care of our own first,” though I don't see any measures being set forth to do that in lieu of taking in refugees. Besides, we can do both. We're one of the wealthiest nations in the world, our luxurious standard of living supported in part by our number one export — the weapons that have wreaked so much havoc in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Our policies and practices have contributed to the strife in Syria, the chaos in Iraq, the instability of the entire region. We bear responsibility for cleaning up the mess. Under Bush, we sent some $12 billion in cash to Iraq, with much of it pilfered and unaccounted for. Surely we can now kick down some super serious kala to help the largest migration of people in Europe since WWII.

Some American veterans, in a Facebook post, said the young men fleeing Syria should be ashamed of themselves, and return home to fight for their country. Yeah, that sounds great on principle, but exactly which of the estimated 1,000 opposition groups do you join? Who is the good guy in that fight? Can you blame people for sending their sons away to avoid having them senselessly slaughtered in this conflict? And maybe some of them already have fought, and managed to escape with their lives.
According to the White House website:

Since 2011, almost 12 million people, equivalent to half of the Syrian population, have been displaced by the conflict, including 7.6 million displaced inside Syria. Their homes and schools have been bombed out of existence by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's merciless regime. Their lives have been imperiled by ISIL and terrorism. Many have been forced to flee to other parts of Syria or seek refuge in neighboring countries.

It is as if every student in the 45 largest U.S. school districts -- including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles -- had been uprooted by violence, hunger, or disease all at once.

It's hard to even fathom such a plight.

Though America toots its own horn — the U.S. is currently the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance in the world; in this fiscal year alone, the U.S. expects to admit 70,000 refugees from all over the world; the President has asked his team to make preparations to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year — we can do more as a nation, and as individuals.
This page offers a few ideas and suggestions on how we can help, and I'm sure there are many more opportunities to assist.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday now upon us, it's a great time to think about what we who have so much can do without, so that those who have nothing might get at least a little something.

A Facebook friend dared me to blog my opinion of the Syrian refugees, and then commented, "Strap your helmet on."

OK. Here it is. Call me naive, but there shouldn't be any flak associated with calling upon people to do what is just and right. And humanizing and helping others in great need is both.

Photos by David Maurice Smith from a Mother Jones photo essay.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let them in, double the amount. Nothing we do will meaningfully mitigate the terrorism risk we already face, and faced well before Paris. We owe it to ourselves to not be cowards and to do the right thing.

allan parachini said...

I agree that vthe approach to Syrian refugees should be based on compassion, not groundless fear, and reflection on the contributions ofvVietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees from the Vietnam era--a horrible time in our history. People like Donald Trump have no place in this equation because they seek to emphasize hate. Personally, I would welcome Syrian refugees who settle--permanently or temporarily--on our island. We have little to fear from them. Let's not give them reasons to fear us.

allan parachini said...

I agree that vthe approach to Syrian refugees should be based on compassion, not groundless fear, and reflection on the contributions ofvVietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees from the Vietnam era--a horrible time in our history. People like Donald Trump have no place in this equation because they seek to emphasize hate. Personally, I would welcome Syrian refugees who settle--permanently or temporarily--on our island. We have little to fear from them. Let's not give them reasons to fear us.

Rory Flynn said...

Thanksgiving kindness in Chicago ... http://time.com/4128223/sean-doolittle-syrian-refugee-thanksgiving/

Anonymous said...

A show to watch is TYRANT on fx that depicts similar situations that the Middle East and Syria is facing today.

Anonymous said...

Let the Muslim countries take in these refugees. Not only is their culture primitive, violent, and hateful, but they insist on spreading this evil savagery. Not a single Muslim majority area in the world does not seethe with crime, misogyny and violence.,

Anonymous said...

@9:14a - I suppose you haven't looked at US national news, lately. Lots of crime, misogyny and violence to go around, here.

Anonymous said...

10:04 - Good observation. So let's get better at by learning from the Kings of Misogyny.

Anonymous said...

@9:14- Syria is much more complex than you think, and you are over generalizing the situation.

Take into consideration that half of the refugees are children, and 20 percent of all refugees are Christians. Syria is the backdrop for almost half of the New Testament. Half of the Syrian Christian population has been killed or forced to convert or flee in the last few years leading up to the current nightmare. Christians held government positions and were respected in Syria in previous decades under more tolerant and heterodox leaders.. since, many have already fled to more secular Muslim nations close to Syria.

And believe or not, many people there stuck in the conflict aren't religious.

The challenge is that most of us get our information in 1-3 minute news segments that are ratings driven.

Americans would greatly benefit in learning about the various religions and cultures in the Middle East that aren't involved with radical Islam. Getting an honest and intensive look into the diverse lifestyles, weather climates, and day to day life of Syria, as well as the entire Middle East would help all of us get a true understanding of what is going on, and why our compassion in needed.

Anonymous said...

We could put them in the affordable housing housing project in PV!

Anonymous said...

11:47
Absolute nonsense. The EU reports that fully 73.5% of the refugees are single men between the ages of 15 and 40. Thst Christians are virtually nonexistent because the Turks neither allow Christians nor Kurds transit.
We need to know no more than to look at the Muslim bigotry, hatred and sharia law in general. These soldiers are not fleeing. They are conquering. The EU says fully 20% support ISIS. I suggest you turn off Pacifica and read the Wall Street Journal.

Anonymous said...

http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php:

@12:45 - The UN states that less than 30% are males 18-59. This may help -http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2015/nov/20/carly-fiorina/fiorina-says-vast-majority-syrian-refugees-are-abl/

@9:14 - 4.28M refugees; the US pledges to help 10K over the next few years. The overwhelming majority of these refugees are already being taken in by "Muslim" countries.

And in general:
http://www.vox.com/explainers/2015/11/16/9745318/syrian-refugees-us-isis

Peter Antonson said...

@12:45
You are describing the refugees (55% Syrian) taking boat trips to Europe and walking across the Balkans. These are
European refugees and none of them can apply for our 10k quota.
We are only accepting from the 5 UN
camps in 5 countries where 4 million
Syrians are staying. They are registered with the UN and are 49% male, 51% female, 53% children.
The US receives names of those vetted by the UN. They are then vetted by (while still in the camps) teams from the FBI, Homeland Security, The Defense Dept. , the Pentagon, and Dept. of State.
This currently takes between 18 and 24 months. Actual placement takes longer.
It's the most difficult method to enter the US.
Since 2001, 750,000 refugees have entered the US without a connected incident. I believe the government has demonstrated a job well done!

Anonymous said...

We don't know for sure yet who the gunman was, but it looks like a radical Christian terrorist just terrorized a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, wounding at least nine people, including four police officers. Not the first time that Planned Parenthood clinics have been attacked by Christian zealots. Let's hope that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, et. al. will denounce violence by religious fanatics of all stripes, not just "radical Muslim terrorists."

Anonymous said...

11:47:

Do you have a reference for that EU report?

I see the EU referencing http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

And, yes you should read the WSJ as you suggest: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-many-steps-in-a-syrian-refugees-journey-to-the-u-s-1448413279 http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-case-for-accepting-syrian-refugees-1447803302

Les Drent (because anonymous stands for fear mongering)

Anonymous said...

Yeah bra, they vetted just like the Boston Bombers or the Somali kids. We already get enough tweakers.

Anonymous said...

Syrians? Why not Somalis, Eritreans, Chadians, Malis, Zimbabweans, Congolese, Burundians, Liberians, Northern Nigerians, Southern Pakistanis, Timors, Muslim Burmese?
There is no end to vast populations of countless countries that are being killed or persecuted. Upheaval in Syria gets the news, but the hard killing goes on in many areas.
An then there is disease and malnutrition. Where does the USA's compassion begin or end?
The soon to be calamity will be the Kurds. The Kurds are the largest ethnicity on earth that has no country. Another human catastrophe.
There is no answer. The moral play that Obama is orchestrating regarding the Syrians that tests American compassion is horseshit. Pure politics.

A mere 70 years ago Europe was a bloodbath and parts of Japan were atomized...Leave the Syrians in the Middle East. Sharia law mandates that the the Arab world help them.
Let's have Obama help the thousands of young US citizens that are killing each other in American streets.
Charity starts at home. Or in Hawaii's case, there ain't no charity for the homeless.

But I would support all of the soon to be 26 million dollars that will extorted from Kauai people via the Council and Mayor's soon to be imposed 20 percent tax increase, to be given to the Syrians. At least if we gave our tax money to Syrian charity there would be a benefit to some people, instead of a couple of hundred new feather-bed nepotistic jobs.

Ed Coll said...

Good luck Joan. I suggested Hawaii Aloha Gitmo Uighurs back in 2009 sadly without success. Although declared "non-combatants" by the US Military their was no help from Hi State Gov officials. Six went to Palau but have all "disappeared" from Palau since and no one knows where they all went (except of course the US Government).
http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/kaua-i-group-send-us-gitmo-detainees/article_c40cb2d8-ac0b-5265-89ed-d8b3a6a9aec1.html

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the EU, but it took all of only two minutes on Google to find out that 72% are men.

Anonymous said...

5:57: You don't know, but you Googled for two minutes, so now you think you know. You still don't know, so take some time to at least re-read Peter Antonson's 3:19 PM comment. Take some time to learn, not two minutes on Google.

The last thing we need is more knee-jerk bigotry fueled by misinformation.

Les Drent said...

@5:57 and 12:45

"I don't know" doesn't cut it. I'm with 8:13.

Anonymous said...

In our good Christian nation three people were shot dead in a Planned Parenthood clinic yesterday.

"Since abortion became legal nationally, with the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, many abortion clinics and staff members across the country have been subjected to harassment including death and bomb threats, and hundreds of acts of violence including arson, bombings and assaults and eight murders, according to figures compiled by the Naral Pro-Choice America Foundation."

Muslim refugees didn't do any of this. It was our own fanatical Christians.

Anonymous said...

@3:19

I agree with your post but:

49% male, 51% female, 53% children = 153%

Anonymous said...

N=100% 49% of whom are male 51% of whom are female and of that total 53% are childen-(boys and girls). OK?

Anonymous said...

That 72% figure come from the UN commission on refugees. That is what was googled, the UN. But I quess you know better than the people in charge of resettlement.,

Anonymous said...

the 153% you site, is silly dude, 53% are children, which comprise part male and part female.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:19 AM - I'm sorry to say but that is an ignorant comment. That is far, far different from the organized murders of thousands of non-ISIS Iraqi's and Syrians by the Caliphate ISIS. Regardless, I'm surprised you glossed over the many hundreds of murders in cities like Chicago a nice liberal urban community. Maybe we should send these refugees to Chicago so they can clean it us for us.

Anonymous said...

Obama's Red lines caused this mess..

Send them all to Obama's house on the Big Island...

Anonymous said...


German Officials Warn of New Security Risk: Local Extremists Recruiting Refugees

http://www.wsj.com/articles/german-officials-warn-of-new-security-risk-local-extremists-recruiting-refugees-1448846681

Anonymous said...

Anybody who blames President Obama for anything is just too stupid to speak to.

These racist animals hate that Obama is half black and half white and the fact that he is the President of the United States of America.

Anonymous said...

The elder Bush was smart enough to know that invading Iraq was going to cause more problems than it would solve. He was right. And where was the media when all the b.s. leading up to the war was being spread? Playing theme music for the propaganda it was being fed.

Anonymous said...

8:30 - You mean like you blame Bush for every thing?