The refugee crisis and why shutting the gate is the wrong thing to do

Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

A mother and her 7-year-old daughter had been tweeting from inside Syria during the war between Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. Everyone knows about ISIS; Assad is a monster too. This is the same Syrian dictator who used chemical weapons in Sunni neighborhoods when the civil war began and sent death squads to chop their way into family homes and murder families.

A 7-year-old kid and her mother inside Aleppo share a Twitter account and have been tweeting from inside the warzone as Assad re-took half of the city. At the top of the page there is a picture of this kid with a children’s book. It includes a tweet saying she is reading to try and forget about the war.

Last month, the mother posted another picture of the kid after an airstrike nearby. No smile this time, the kid was surrounded by dust and it looked like there was blood on her mouth, although it was hard to tell. The tweet said there was nothing left of their home but rubble.

There was a scare over the weekend as the army came. They said, “We are sure the army is capturing us now. We will see each other another day, dear world. Bye.”

The account was deleted, but came back on Monday. The most recent Tweet gives an update that Assad now controls the area and the bombs continued all night.

There are about 200,000 civilians trapped between Assad and ISIS right now. Assad has been known to torture protesters (which would include people live-tweeting from inside an area he’d been shelling for a year) and he’s been killing Sunni Muslims. ISIS tortures and kills everyone who is not a Sunni Muslim loyal to ISIS.

Whoever wins, the Syrians lose.

The West is now suffering from a pandemic of xenophobia and Islamophobia. The narrative right now is that the refugees are forming roaming bands of rapists in Europe. I’ve only been able to find one real rape and murder committed by a migrant and an incident of sexual assaults at a music festival with a tightly packed crowd, low security and a lot of alcohol. These rare incidents have fueled fake news stories about armies of refugee rapists. And since it’s standard practice in the EU for law enforcement not to release the race of suspects, refugees have been getting the blame for just about any crime that an un-named juvenile committed.

Here in America, the fear is about terror attacks, which makes very little sense to me. The odds or less than one in a million that an individual person will be killed by a Muslim refugee. The odds are getting killed by a white drunk with a pistol are significantly higher.

There were a couple of efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people some months back. All of the headlines read something like “Congress considers gun control bills.” This was a mistake because people don’t read the articles and they thought it was an attempt to ban AR-15s. Actually, the bills were to make people on the FBI terror watchlist unable to pass a background check and to expand background checks to include histories of mental illness.

Those bills failed and conservative leaders are stoking Islamophobic mass hysteria in an effort to make it look like they’re keeping the country safe by keeping refugees out.

Others complain about the money. One particularly disgusting comment I keep hearing is, “Exactly what percentage of my tax dollars are the refugees entitled to?”

I’ve written about this in the paper, but CNN published an account by a young Iraqi woman who escaped ISIS after being sold as a sex slave. She was held in a cell before being sold. There was blood on the walls from girls who tried to claw through the stone walls with their bare fingers. She and several other girls were taken to a market and auctioned off like cattle.

The apathy is astounding to me.

Americans always get defensive on this point, but we created ISIS. They grew up in war-torn Iraq and sprung up to fill the power vacuum left when we toppled Saddam. ISIS is a group so brutal and merciless that most factions of al-Quaeda won’t even work with them and now they’ve made Syria into Hell on Earth.

The refugees are our responsibility. Unfortunately, it seems pretty definitive that America is going to shirk that responsibility.

The only thing we can do now is try and help the refugees who are here already. Because if Trump carries through on his threat to deport them back to Syria, and he very well might, then they are going to need places to hide.


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