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A cry for morality

| Friday, December 4, 2015

The world is facing a crisis. A crisis full of many emotions — pity, terror, empathy, anger, sadness, fear. Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, an estimated more than 9 million Syrians have fled their homes in search of refuge. Either relocating domestically or internationally, families have uprooted their lives and their children, leaving their friends, relatives and any sense of normalcy. They leave not out of desire to find a new job. The refugees are not looking to seek a new lifestyle in a wealthier country out of greed. They are not pretending to flee a deadly war in order to inflict more violence abroad on Americans and Europeans. Rather, they leave for one reason — fear for their lives. The same fear that the city of Paris, the country of France and the whole world felt after the attacks a few weeks ago. I am in no way trying to belittle the atrocities that took place in Paris, but rather I am trying to highlight the atrocity that the world has committed by turning a blind eye to Syria and the victims of its civil war.

The Paris terrorist attacks were devastating not only because innocent lives were taken but because it took the murder of these 129 innocent lives to make the world speak up. Why are the 250,000 deaths within Syria in the past four and a half years not enough? Why are the 1,500 civilians that were killed in one day by the oppressive Assad regime through chemical attacks not enough? Why are the 2,800 refugees that have died while trying to flee the violence that Paris saw for one night not enough? The answer is because the biggest emotion of this crisis is not anger or sadness — it is fear. The terrorists have this figured out. It is the very essence of their name — terror. Their strategy works because the more they make us feel threatened and fearful for being who were are, the more we let them win. Paris has sparked a conversation because this fear is actualized in a country that we picture to be not too different from our own. When we picture Syria, we picture a war-torn Middle East where chemical warfare, air strikes, oppressive governments and death is the norm. What we do not picture is the people, just like you and me, the kids and the young adults who have done nothing to deserve this injustice, yet it is still their daily lives from a country controlled by a terrorist group and an oppressive and murderous dictatorship. They have given up everything they love and everything they have simply to live.

If you believe in what more than half of our governors have proposed — that we keep Syrian refugees from seeking asylum in our country — then you are going to be on the wrong side of history. Blaming the victims out of fear is cowardly and inhumane and has to be stopped immediately. We must stop this racist, shameful and un-American response to the crisis. We cannot let the world treat the refugees and innocent Muslims everywhere as scapegoats for our Islamaphobia. The refugees are not the radicalized extremists who are trying to kill us. Since September 11, no refugees have been arrested on domestic terrorism charges. The process to seek refugee status in the United States takes on average more than two years and is so extensive that by the time a refugee reaches our shores, the government knows who their third cousin is and what score they got on their fifth grade history test. Find me a terrorist with such a fabricated life and hidden extremism who is willing to wait two years to potentially be accepted. The Islamic State can much more easily radicalize European nationalists or Americans who are already free to flow between borders without government restriction. Blaming the refugees and fearing the innocent will always be wrong. The attack on Paris has made one thing clear — it is time to act. It is time to stand up to the violence rather than letting fear hold us back. The only weapon that is capable of defeating us is fear. We are strong and can defeat terrorism by not succumbing to the fear within us but rather turning it into conviction and desire for peace. The way to achieve peace through all this war is to not let fear suppress our moral obligation to stop violence and help those who are seeking refuge.

In December of 1938, 68.8 percent of college students did not support accepting Jewish refugees from Central Europe. It is our time to step up and say we are not going to let another genocide happen. We have the power to hold our nation and our world to a higher standard and provide for those in need. A harsh winter is coming and unless you plan to ignore the real problem while hundreds of thousands of people will freeze in refugee camps, forests and dirty streets, cry out for morality and justice. Cry out for peace and humanity. It starts here in our community at Notre Dame for we are the young voice of America and we can cry out for change. Cry out for our nation to follow the likes of Germany and Canada to aid the refugees. Cry out and mourn for the deaths of not only the Parisians but also the Syrians. Cry, cry — but act, for to be human is to love and to love is to provide for those in need.

“We must not let ourselves be moved by fear in this country. We have seen that happen too many times in other countries. Sometimes I worry about the possibility that we will follow their example.” — Eleanor Roosevelt, 1939 on the overwhelming American fear of Jewish refugees


Monica Montgomery


McGlinn Hall

Nov. 19

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Arafat

    If only the world were just. If only the answers were simple. If only practicality didn’t have to enter into idealistic dreams.

    Speaking of practicality…

    * Immigrating to America is not a right it is a privilege to be meted out to the most deserving. I know it’s not PC to write this even if it is true.

    * Muslim immigrants (wherever they go) often have no interest in embracing cultures or values that are not Islamic. We see this in Europe, Russia, NW China, India, Kenya, Israel, Kashmir, Sudan, you name it.

    * Worse still Muslim immigrants often force – either through verbal and active pressure all the way to violence – their values and culture upon the countries they have immigrated to. Throughout Europe there are no-go zones. Sweden is now second to South Africa in rape due to Muslim men running amok, etc..

    * There is no way to know which Muslim immigrant will hate us and act on it. Even in the military where screening is relatively sophisticated and where Muslim live side-by-side with other military personnel there are innumerable instances of Muslims flipping the switch and killing their fellow soldiers.

    * Second generation Muslims are often more radical than first generation Muslims. More than half of the French Muslim terrorists have turned out to be second or third generation Muslim.

    These are just some of the reasons I am for Hindu or Hispanic immigration but am against
    Muslim immigration. Islam is unique in more ways than I care to list and being idealistic only creates guilt for those who have to make the tough decisions.

    • João Pedro Santos


  • Johnny Whichard

    Given ISIS has told the world they are slipping their people in as “refugees”, your entire “feel-good-about-myself” article is void. What would you say if dozens of refugees moved in around your family and friends? How many more acts of terror will it take for you to wake up? San Bernadino not enough for you? Why don’t you send this article to every surviving loved one of a victim of the Parisian/Californian attacks.

    • João Pedro Santos

      “Given ISIS has told the world they are slipping their people in as “refugees”, your entire “feel-good-about-myself” article is void.”
      Because we should take what ISIS say as absolute truths, right?

  • João Pedro Santos

    Very good text. Too bad that there are always trolls spreading hate in the comments session. The Observer admins should delete hate speech.

    • Punta Venyage

      It’s very hateful and intolerant to bully people who have different views than you.

      • João Pedro Santos

        Do you even know the definition of “bullying”? What you said is just insulting to people who actually suffer bullying from racists, xenophobes, homophobes, etc.

  • Punta Venyage

    Winston Churchill, “The River War”:

    How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its
    votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man
    as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.
    The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits,
    slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and
    insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule
    or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and
    refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

    The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some
    man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a
    concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of
    Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual
    Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and
    loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of
    the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No
    stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund,
    Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already
    spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every
    step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms
    of science—the science against which it had vainly struggled—the
    civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of
    ancient Rome.”