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Will we be true?

| Friday, November 20, 2015

“We don’t have to just react. We can think.” Yes, Ben Carson, I agree. The presidential candidate stated this as he explained his argument for keeping Syrian refugees out. Despite our admitted potential to think, in the past few days, 31 governors have reacted to the Paris attacks by declaring their state’s refusal to take on any Syrian refugees.

This, despite the fact that all of the confirmed attackers were European nationals. There is one man, found near a fake Syrian passport, who possibly used refugee status to enter Europe. Even if this was the case, a singular case is not rational justification to deny 10,000 people — mostly women and children — refuge in the United States. Our vetting process is different, longer and significantly more thorough, as those seeking to enter the U.S. have to pass the UN vetting process in addition to our own procedures. There are difficulties and complications, but the conclusion that refugees suddenly pose a drastic threat to our safety is a rash overreaction.

Nor is it a thoughtful or wise strategy. The so-called Islamic State intentionally seeks to isolate Muslims from the West. The group constantly speaks of a “clash of civilizations,” constructing a narrative of absolute difference and incompatibility. And many Americans buy that logic and reinforce it with action, as the mass refusal to take Syrian refugees proves. But if we were to take Ben Carson’s wise advice and think, we would realize that Islam is not incompatible with our values. Many majority-Muslim countries like Jordan and Turkey — while with flaws like every country — exemplify a humanitarian and tolerant culture. There are also more than 2.6 million Muslim Americans living as peaceful contributors to society. Seven hundred fifty thousand Iraqi refugees have resettled in the US since 9/11. None have been convicted of violent terrorist actions.

By refusing logic and empathy, we are giving IS exactly what they want. We prove that there is a “clash of civilizations.” We show countless displaced Muslims the West has no love for them, there is no place for them among us. We isolate our Muslim brothers and sisters, our fellow citizens, by demonstrating our hatred and ignorance of their religion. We preach diversity, inclusion, openness and tolerance while refusing to allow “the other” to live with us. We talk of an American dream and our incredible immigrant heritage; yet we qualify both to include only Christians or those who fit our definition of Western. We talk of universal human rights while unabashedly placing the comfort of Christians and Americans over the right of Syrian refugees to live in safety and peace. We talk of our strength and leadership while allowing an unproved exception (the one terrorist who may have been a refugee) to scare our supposedly cherished values into obsolescence.

The propaganda of the so-called Islamic State disparages refugees who venture to infidel lands. The mass exodus of Muslims from Syria threatens the IS claim to be a safe haven for Muslims, invalidating the group’s central claim. But when we close our doors (Europe is not acting much differently from us), those who would otherwise have risked the journey to safety in the West will be left with no good options. Most will have to survive in a war-torn region. They will likely come to see IS’ anti-Western rhetoric as true. Forced to choose between death or submission to the “caliphate,” many will choose submission. Our pitiful cowardice will only justify that choice.

So we must ask: Where are our values now? How can we let ourselves succumb to irrational, sweeping fear? How can we refuse safety to so many when we ourselves are descendants of refugees? Are we so naïve to believe that Islam is incompatible with our way of life? Shall our empathy extend only to those who look like us, who share our religion?

I cannot merely be idealistic. Safety is imperative, and we should ensure our vetting process is thorough. Fear is normal and valid. But it should not control us. We should not give the enemy what it wants. More importantly, we should not abandon out of cowardice who and what we are. I hope we can stand up as a nation, rise beyond our fear, refuse to abandon our fundamental values and open our minds, hearts and arms to people seeking a life free from terror. Will we hold fast to our shared convictions? Will we be true?

Adam Moeller


Nov. 18

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  • Daniel

    We live in an age of islamic expansionism…we don’t get to choose that. This is our place in history as it has been for others in the past. Aside from a 21st century capacity to project destruction and social media’s ability to aid in it’s spread, I find this age of islamic expansionism to be following its historical precedent to the letter.
    If these are facts then here’s one more…when it comes to the islamist aggressor, it’s fight or perish.

    • Tom Z.

      You know it is an insanely small percentage of muslims that are radical and violent (< 0.02%). We need to be smart and safe, but we need to be rational. How would you like it if Canada stopped allowing Christians because of the KKK? You would argue that it is such a small percentage of Christians and not all Christians deserve to be treated like that, and you would be 100% correct.

      • Daniel

        Muslim=a person who believes allah is the one true god and muhammad is his prophet.
        Islamist=a person who asserts that islam be wielded with the force of law.
        Though the percentage of muslims willing to personally behead someone may be small, almost all muslims are islamists. To confirm this, one need only look at the places in the world where muslims constitute a majority and see if islam is actually wielded with the force of law. When one does this, it is confirmed. (direct observation)
        Another direct observation…almost everywhere islam is wielded with the force of law, people like me are either running for their lives, fighting for their lives…or dead. (direct observation)
        Did all the Nazi’s want to put jews in ovens? No…but enough of them did.
        Islam is a conqueror and my enemy and the fact that you can produce muslims who aren’t personally willing to murder me does not change that.

        • João Pedro Santos

          I don’t understand how can the newspaper of a university which claims to accept all faiths allow such hateful comments as this one.

          • Daniel

            I find moralism to be the least compelling (or reliable) basis on which to form ones viewpoints.
            But you can take comfort in this thought….in a free society where anyone can say what they like and do, it doesn’t really matter what people say….it only matter what people listen to.
            If you don’t like my ideas, you are as free to ignore mine, as I am sure to ignore yours.

          • João Pedro Santos

            Is your comment even serious? By your logic, nazism would be eliminated if Jewish people pretended that nazism didn’t exist. Do you know how silly that sounds?

          • Daniel

            Reading comprehension? Go back, try again. (I am beginning to suspect that you may be unintelligent)

          • Daniel

            Reading comprehension? Go back, read again. (hint: start at the “in a free society” part and then ask “do I and this person live in a Naazi society or a free one”). If we do indeed live in a Naazi society then your observation is valid. If not, then this is what’s known as a “strawman”.

  • Punta Venyage

    “Even if this was the case, a singular case is not rational justification
    to deny 10,000 people — mostly women and children — refuge in the
    United States.”

    Really? Even if out of thousands of “refugees” only a handful cause bloodshed on the scale of Paris, don’t you think that’s too much? Have a few hundred of our people killed by a handful “refugees” for the sake of allowing thousands of other foreigners escape? We have an obligation towards the safety (both physical and mental) of our people first and foremost, in my opinion.

    “mostly women and children” – Can you source this? I’ve seen that most of the refugees going into Europe (about 60%) are men (who should be fighting for their nation, no?).

    (“refugees” is in quotes because we can’t properly screen them, according to our FBI director, who I assume knows more about our capabilities than either you or me. Furthermore, we have refugees coming in through the southern border, so we might have issues coming sooner rather than later)

    And ISIS aside, I think you are neglecting other elements of barbarism even in “non-radical” Muslim societies. Just look at the recent story of an artist in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to have 800 lashes, and then given the death sentence. These are not actions by jihadis, but by an Islam ally of the US.

    “Are we so naïve to believe that Islam is incompatible with our way of life?”
    I would challenge you to reconsider which viewpoint is the naive one. The freedoms which I assume you support (free speech, women’s rights, etc.) are directly incompatible with Islam.

    When you speak of standing up as a “nation,” what do you define as a “nation”?

    • João Pedro Santos

      One in every ten men is a potential rapist. So… according to you, should we arrest all men?