It’s been a long time. But we’re just gonna jump right into things.

In case you haven’t heard, the Syrian refugee crisis has EXPLODED in the news, mostly because of the Paris attack that happened  one week ago, on November 13, 2015, which ISIS/Daesh took credit for. (I will, however, mention that there have been plenty of other attacks by terrorist groups, but those did not get close to the responses to Paris.)

Syria has been experiencing a civil war since 2011. Because of this war, many civilians are attempting to flee to safety. About 3 million Syrians have fled into the neighboring countries of  Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, but there are still an estimated 6.5 million people who are displaced in Syria. They are trying to find safety in Europe and in America.

Americans, of course, are having a fucking fit. And by Americans, I mean mostly Republicans who don’t seem to realize that the refugees are running away from Daesh, not a part of it.

Many Republicans (and, yes, some Democrats too) frame their xenophobia in a way that makes it seem like they are concerned about safety (as if Democrats aren’t?). That they want the vetting process of immigration to be better (even though immigration has little to do with being a refugee.)

And, yes, of course it’s “not all Republicans”. And it’s “not all Democrats” either. Some Republicans have agreed that we should take more refugees in, because that’s what America is and does. Some Democrats -specifically state governors -have said that they will refuse refugees in their states, even though that’s not actually legal. But at this point, between the governors and presidential candidates, it’s become a pretty partisan issue.

However, if the Republicans truly were primarily concerned about safety, then Chris Christie would have no issues letting a Syrian toddler into the USA, but he does. If Republicans were primarily concerned about safety, maybe they would take actual stances on gun control regulation and want to start profiling white extremists in America, since they have killed more people since 9/11 than “Muslim” extremists have. Home grown terrorists should especially be taken more seriously if we care about safety, because many of the culprits behind the Paris attacks were citizens of the European Union.

But safety isn’t really the point. Islamophobia is. Which sucks, because Islam is probably my favorite religion, and it’s constantly being dragged through the mud by “Christians” who don’t understand how to fact check their statistics on “radical” or “extremists” Muslims, who don’t want to take credit for Christian terrorists and never seem to hear about terrorists of other religions, who don’t know that jihad has two meanings in Islam or what Sharia law is, and who probably couldn’t tell me what the five pillars of Islam are without a google search.

Obviously, terrorists are evil and need to be condemned in any and all forms. But usually when the terrorists turn out to be Muslim, it is seen as an excuse to call all Muslims terrorists. But when the terrorists are white men with easy gun access, they are seen as “mentally ill” even though no evidence supports that theory. But I guess that’s for another blog post.

I’ve also seen a lot of people conflating the Syrian refugees by calling them Muslim refugees, which is just ridiculous. Yes, Syria is a Muslim-majority country, but it is a secular state. Yes, Syrian refugees are mostly Muslim, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Christians or Atheists.

Also, this swapping of terms leads to serious implications when attempting to find sources. Searching for “Syrian Refugees” on Google gets you results that lead to facts about the crisis and the war, while “Muslim Refugees” generally lands you with fear-mongering results and anti-Islamic propaganda. It’s even worse/more biased when you do an image search.

Using the term “Muslim refugees” is meant to instill fear into people, because of very serious misconceptions about Islam in America. Playing on these misconceptions (instead of educating people about them and correcting them) is immoral and has real-life ramifications on people all over the world who are Muslim or who are perceived to be Muslim.

Aside from issues and concerns about safety, which are mostly invalid and/or irrelevant, I’ve also seen arguments that we need to fix things here in America before we help people elsewhere. Of course, it’s never stated that way. It’s more like “Americans before Illegals” or pictures like this:

homelessrefugees

Or this:

homelessrefugees2

I want to draw your attention to the “America First” part that I surrounded in yellow. It’s amazing that this phrase was used, when it was also used to criticize Americans during World War II by none other than Dr. Seuss:

adolf

(source here)

(Going along with WWII comparisons, because I’m sure some people think it’s inappropriate to compare Syrian refugees to victims of the Holocaust (Jews, Roma, Sinti, gay men, communists, etc) -even the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC has mentioned the parallels between the two groups.)

The argument that we need to take care of Americans before we take care of others is meant to silence people who want to welcome and protect refugees. It is meant to shame us -“why aren’t you doing anything for homeless vets? How unAmerican!”even though it was Republicans in 2014 that killed a Senate bill that would’ve expanded benefits for veterans. (And here’s a list of at least seven bills aimed towards veteran benefits that Republicans have voted against.)

If we wanted to help homeless people, which number over 550,00 in America, we could put them up in any one of our MILLIONS of empty houses (many of which have been foreclosed by banks since 2007.) It is literally cheaper to house homeless people (and disabled people, and mentally ill people) than to just leave them on the streets. Studies have shown this over and over again.

So if Americans really cared about homeless veterans at all, we would take advantage of the models that we can use to help these people. And if Americans cared about homeless veterans, then maybe we would talk about helping them all the time, instead of just when America is receiving Syrian refugees, or when it’s Veterans Day.

In case you didn’t click on those last two links:

GoogleTrendsVeterans

But Americans don’t care about homeless people or even homeless veterans. It’s a silencing tactic. It’s a shaming tactic.

All of this to say, generally speaking, in light of the Syrian refugee crisis, America needs to do better. Safety concerns are valid, but the way they are being used currently is racist and xenophobic, and ultimately Islamophobic. Saying that we need to “focus on America/ns” is a silencing tactic to avoid the issue of Syrian refugees, instead of actually trying to help homeless people or American people in general.

To refuse refugees at this time based solely on their religion or ethnicity is despicable. The Statue of Liberty tells other countries to give America their “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and America is supposed to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” At this time, it’s up to Americans to prove that this is still true.

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