Saturday, November 21, 2015

Immigration and Terrorism

Syrian Refugee camp
Photo source:  Center for Immigration Studies
Paris, Nov. 14, 2015:  coordinated terrorists at-tacks result in 129 dead. The western world is now focused on these attacks, ISIS, and Syrian refugees.  It strikes fear in many.

And, not far behind, are the fear-mongers, scapegoating immigrants and Muslims.  The forces against freedom are ramping up.  Republican Senator Lindsay Graham summed it up as ISIS is Going to Kill Us All!  Not to be outdone, former Gov. Sarah Palin says ISIS will plant the flag of Allah atop the White House.  (Side note:  Isn't Allah the same as Christian's God the Father?  If the religious right says we are a Christian nation, why don't they embrace the idea of planting the flag of God the Father atop the White House?)

Yes, this is a serious threat and ISIS is certainly bent on a path of repression and gruesome murder of those who disagree with their distorted vision of Islam.  But, how do we respond to the threat?  They want their enemies to fear them and hate them.

I think that we in free democracies need to propose a two-pronged response.  First is that our governments need to strike back and remain vigilant on the intelligence front.  Second, and equally important, is we cannot surrender our freedoms in the face of murderous terror.

No to Fear!
We cannot cower in the fear of the possibility of a random act of terrorist violence.  On the rational side, we are more likely to be killed in an automobile accident than be killed by ISIS.  We are more likely to be killed by a crazed gunman, and event that happens all too often in our nation.  (Unlike Europe, we are pretty well armed nation, and many gun owners would relish the opportunity to take out a few terrorists.)

We should pray for the victims, morn the victims.  But we need to carry on and live in freedom.

No to the Merchants of Fear!
The politicians are having a hayday with fear.  Particularly, conservative politicians seem to thrive when we have enemies to fear.  Fear is a strong emotion, and it gets out the vote!

But fear is crippling.   It clouds our judgment.  It leads to hatred and repression.   We must say no to the Merchants of Fear and their distorted vision.

No to Repression of Muslims and Immigrants!
The Merchants of Fear are calling for more repression of Muslims and immigrants.  
  • We hear Donald Trump, taking an idea right out of the Nazi playbook, calling for Muslims to be tagged in a data base, not unlike sex offenders.  Is the next proposal forcing them to wear a crescent and star of Islam?
  • We hear politicians like Jebb Bush calling for a religious test for refugees:  Christian is good, Muslim is no good.  (But this is from the party that keeps saying the US is a Christian nation and interpreting Freedom of Religion as only the freedom to choose which brand of Christianity you wish to follow.)
  • We also hear politicians saying no to Syrian refugees.  Among the thousands of refugees, there is a chance there may be one or more agents of ISES.  Is this a reason to say no to all refugees?  Or maybe just tighter screening?
The Merchants of Fear know that fear leads to hate and hate leads to popular support for repression.  

What is most dangerous of repressive policies is that they often focus the fear and hate on the wrong population.  While conservatives supported the fear of Iraq, we were attacked by radical Saudis on 9/11.  While the attacks in Paris are being blamed on Syrian refugees, it appears they were planned by a Belgium national.  While we are lead to fear foreigners, most mass killings in the US are committed by US citizens.  

Fear distorts our view of where the real risk is.

We must be prudent.  Our government must fight back against ISES.  Our government must keep vigilant for intelligence about the plans of terrorists.

But having done what is prudent, we must carry on and not be be crippled or blinded by fear and hatred.  We must live and relish the freedom we have!

Day of Remembrance for Transgender People

This Sunday (Nov. 22, 2015) in Boston is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember the many people in Boston, around the US and around the world killed only because they happen to be transgender, and someone deeply hated them for that fact.

I live a rather protected, straight, middle class life and no body harasses me or shows overt hatred (that I know of).  I simply can't image what it would be like to be so hated that someone would want to go as far as kill me.

Still, I think it's good - it's necessary - to take time to rem
ember those who have been the victims of such hatred, that their lives cut short continue to value, and that each of them was a person of great and unique dignity.

That everyone, including LGBTQ folks have dignity is not a liberal value, it's an American value!  All "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Today, we see much of the western world focused on terrorism, and that hatred that kills so randomly.  This is indeed a great evil in the world.  But not the only evil.  The evil that implants hatred in the hearts of those who would kill (or even bully) people because they happen to be transgender, or gay, or black, or Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim, or any category of persons - this is also a great evil.

Our world is filled with the evil of hatred.  But we must not be defeated.  We must remember those who have died, uphold their dignity, and live in the belief that the light we can share can overcome the darkness of this evil manifest in hatred that would go as far as the murder of innocents.