Where do Syrian Refugees Belong?

In what is reported to be the largest demonstration in Polish history, 170,000 Poles rallied against the “Islamization of Europe.” (source)  (the source is somewhat suspect though).  I don’t need to provide sources to show that there are similar sentiments in the United States.

I am both in support of this xenophobia and against it.

When it comes to the United States and Canada, I believe there is no room for such xenophobia.  We are immigrant nations, and if we are “overwhelmed” with a flood of these strange people, with strange customs, and strange languages, and strange beliefs, so what?   It was not so long ago that the Anglo-Saxon “Americans” felt this way about Italians.  (source)   The President of the United States felt this way about Italian Americans:

“The Italians. We musn’t forget the Italians. Must do something for them. They’re not like us. Difference is, they smell different, look different, act different. After all, you can’t blame them…trouble is, you can’t find one that’s honest.”

That was Richard Nixon, speaking in 1974. Today, The Daygo is trustworthy enough that he holds a grip on two of the nine supreme court seats.  In 40 years, maybe we’ll have a Syrian on the Supreme Court.

This is what America is — it is a place that should welcome immigrants.  To the extent that those immigrants change the character of the nation, so be it.  We are an evolutionary society, and if one day there are muezzins calling the faithful to prayer, in Spanish, to a black-skinned majority, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It might not be the America I would choose for our future, but this is America.  You sit on the roller coaster, and it brings you were it will.

On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with European nations being xenophobic.  In fact, I think Europe should slam down the fences and tell the refugees to go the other way.  For those who would call for “diversity,” as some kind of sacred mission, this should resonate.  Do we really want a Europe that no longer has a distinctive “France,” “Netherlands,” “Italy,” or “Sweden?”  I don’t.  When you consider that there have been efforts to deny both Italy and Poland their nationhood and self-determination, I can see a dose of right-wing xenophobia as a healthy thing.

Finally, it isn’t as if there is nowhere else for them to go.  As mentioned above, America should open her arms to immigrants.  But, what about other middle eastern countries, like the super-rich Gulf States?   They.  Give.  No.  Shits.  In fact, a Kuwaiti official reportedly said that they didn’t fit in there.

Now I realize that there is a difference between a Syrian and a Kuwaiti.  But, at the same time, none of the Gulf states consists of borders drawn around “a people.”  They are all artificial borders drawn to keep the oil from being in the hands of one ruler.  There is no individual heritage, no individual language, no individual culture at risk if all of a sudden, Qatar becomes “overwhelmed” with refugees from a crisis that is partially its damn fault.  (Kettle, meet Black, since I’m American, writing this).

It seems to me that the only people who have a right to close the door are the Europeans.  Meanwhile, they’re the only ones doing anything.   Europe ought to close the gate, and the US and the Gulf should open theirs.

5 Responses to Where do Syrian Refugees Belong?

  1. blueollie says:

    I agree that we should help out and that the Gulf States should do a whole lot more.

    However, I think that some of the pushback against these immigrants is simple resentment: if one turned on the TV over the past 2-3 decades one would see people in the Middle East (and yes, in Syria) burning our flag and telling us how horrible we are.

    And now they want to come here?

    YES, that is simplistic and overlooks exactly who was demonstrating, what the US was doing at the time, and that the Middle East is horribly complicated, etc.

    That is why I back us taking them and why I am angry with our D Rep. voting against them.

    But I can understand the resentment that some might have.

  2. Paula Estess says:

    When the images of the desperate hordes of refugees began flooding the news every day, it was hard to watch. It actually inspired me to rent out my abandoned, soon to be foreclosed home to a homeless family, for about half of fair market value. I also gave them free utilities and several weeks rent for free. The connection is, we have people right here in our back yard who are also desperate. They may not be running for their lives, like the unfortunate Syrians, but they need help, regardless. My experience working with a needy American family has somewhat changed my perspective, regarding letting in the Syrians. I know that diversity is what this country has represented for over two hundred years. I belive our “laissez faire” approach to business combined with the diversity of knowledge and backgrounds gave us an advantage in leading the industrial revolution. However, we are living in very different circumstances. Now I’m leaning towards investing in taking care of our own. The family I helped was desperate in part because they refused to apply for welfare or foodstamps. The father has a job, but they had fallen on hard times, which can happen to anyone. I probably used to much verbiage to make one small point: charity begins at home.

    • TimH says:

      You might point out to them that welfare or foodstamps, but rather benefits that they had paid for in advance through taxes. Regard them as insurance payoffs, not free handouts. Their misplaced pride is hurting them

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