The attacks in Paris, Turkey, Lebanon, and the attempted attack at a soccer event in Germany are all horrifying. But what is also horrifying is the politicization of these attacks for partisan gains on both sides of the political aisle. Recently, there were a few comments made about the idea of “selective sympathy,” considering the overwhelming amount of air time that was used up to broadcast these terror attacks. Yes, there are valid reasons why this was the case, namely that an attack in Paris, a nation that is relatively close to us politically and culturally, is symptomatic of a threat to us. Nevertheless, the comparatively massive amount of media coverage spent on these attacks when at nearly the same time, more than 40 people were killed by terrorist bombings in Beirut, is certainly a valid concern. But then, the initial leap of logic in these arguments to the idea that we don’t care about lives in the Middle East who have also been the victims of terror attacks, and the second leap that this lack of caring about lives is the reason many people don’t want to bring in Syrian refugees is not only wrong but simply reckless.
This claiming of the “moral high ground” by the arbiters of these judgments falls apart when one considers the following: one of my friends posted “What about Russia, you forgot to list them as victims of these attacks [one of their planes was bombed and crashed in Egypt]?” One of the people met his comment with animosity, the other deleted it. This indicates that they aren’t actually concerned about the lives of the Middle Eastern men, women and children who died, they just want to advance their agenda of letting in more Syrian refugees. Since the Russian story line doesn’t fit their piece, they don’t want to hear about it.
Furthermore, the reason (logical) people don’t want to let in Syrian refugees isn’t that they don’t care about Muslims, it is that they are concerned about the threat to national security that doing so poses, especially considering that when the FBI director, James Comey, and his assistant among many others, have said that no vetting process would be sufficient to determine that the Syrians who enter are not being infiltrated by ISIS, one is inclined to believe them. After all, ISIS itself has said many times that they will exploit the refugee crisis. (Please note that I am not saying that the refugees are inherently subject to terroristic tendencies, I am saying that ISIS and the Syrian refugees are two mutually exclusive bodies of people, but one is trying to infiltrate the other.) Then, some say, “So, you are just going to do nothing while Syrians die?” And the answer is, of course, no. There are plenty of things we can do. We have only spent 4 billion dollars helping these refugees, which in U.S. terms, is essentially nothing. That clearly needs to change, considering we spent about 250 billion dollars a year on welfare, and the Syrian refugees are in much worse shape than the Americans who receive welfare. Also, we should begin to solve the problem at its heart. We should use overwhelming air superiority in concentrated attacks to slowly annihilate ISIS, and we should arm the militant groups such as the Kurds who are willing to fight against Assad’s tyrannical regime as well as ISIS and let Putin know that he will not go unopposed in supporting Assad’s regime.
Nevertheless, unless the chief intelligence agencies in the U.S. are able to confidently determine that we are capable of vetting the refugees to the point that no ISIS members will be let in, I don’t think we should let refugees into the U.S. in any significant numbers. Some claim that not bringing in refugees causes them to remain in economic insolvency and increases their frustration towards Western nations, which in turn increases the likelihood of radicalization. This is, without a doubt, a valid point, but I have two counterclaims. First, these radicalized Muslims are not in the U.S., so their threat is not one that can directly threaten us. No doubt, a threat anywhere is a threat to the U.S., but if it is abroad it is not as significant. Second, there have been countless cultural analysts who have maintained that many of the Islamic immigrants struggle to assimilate, with this struggle including a difficulty in finding jobs. Thus, some turn to something else towards which to aim their lives, and for many, that something else is ISIS. Therefore, this radicalization not only occurs abroad, but also in the U.S.
In the spirit of artificial bipartisanship, I find it necessary to bring up a politicization on the part of the conservatives, namely of Trump. He has used this tragedy to advance his radical ideas of unwarranted searches of mosques, closing down of mosques, and monitoring of Muslims through a nationwide database. It is clear that these plans violate every principle of freedom of religion. We should not be monitoring people because of their religion, but because they are a threat. If, as a result of this monitoring, one racial or religious group is monitored more than another, that is a completely different story than beginning to monitor solely based on religious or racial lines. For the most part, this second politicization is so ludicrous so as to not even warrant discussion.