The Syrian Refugee Response

I posted this on Facebook, but it’s long enough that it probably deserves to be here too.

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As someone who is actively trying to sponsor Syrian refugees to come to Canada, I have to comment on some of the really discouraging rhetoric I am hearing.

You have your extremes – Republican governors refusing any refugees and those who confuse the persecuted with the persecutors. But you also have your mostly level-headed individuals who are worried about security – that somehow a terrorist will slip through the system posing as a refugee. In both cases I think there is too much fear and not enough compassion.

The security fears are understandable, but I do not think they are grounded in much reality. What reason do we have to believe that any Syrian refugees are faking it? What hell-bent member of ISIS would sit in a refugee camp for years upon years so that they could eventually come to Canada and kill a few people? It’s not realistic. The sad fact of the matter is that the ocean separating Canada and the Middle East does more to protect us than any level of screening ever could. Most of those wishing to do harm to the West are going to do it in Europe (as sad as that is to admit).

And speaking of screening, it’s not as though refugees just get to come to Canada willy nilly. From what I understand, there are three levels of screening: one from the UNHCR, one from the Canadian government, and one from the RCMP. This is a lot of security screening, and it helps to explain why our sponsorship here in Ottawa still doesn’t have a family. The system is overworked with so many refugees to process.

Now, does Trudeau’s plan to speed up the process compromise this level of security screening? I don’t think so. If you add more resources and personnel, then it can all be done quicker.

Really though, my main point I want to express to everyone is this:

ISIS WANTS YOU TO FEAR SYRIAN REFUGEES AND MUSLIMS IN GENERAL.

They want that. They want there to be a divide between Islam and the West. If that divide grows and we reject Muslims and refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, that bolsters ISIS’s worldview that there is a war between Islam and the West. It helps them recruit Muslims because Muslims will increasingly believe that there is indeed a war between Islam and the West and that the Islamic State offers sanctuary. ISIS believes they are setting up an Islamic utopia. The more uncomfortable Muslims feel in the West, the more easily ISIS can recruit.

The biggest middle finger we can give ISIS is to welcome Syrian refugees with open arms.

Yes, do proper screening. Yes, combat ISIS in other ways. But do not become a closed society. Do not stop doing what has made the West great – offering freedom and sanctuary to those that the rest of the world has rejected.

Tracing my family back far enough, we came to Canada because of religious persecution. That is what has helped to make this country great, and there is no good reason to stop now. Canada rejected Jewish refugees in the 1930s, sending them back to Europe to their deaths. How does that look in hindsight?

Let Canada be a beacon to the world. To all those places persecuting minorities and to all those places closing their borders, look at Canada. We can do the right thing.

 

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Today in the News…

Considering the conflicts currently taking place in Mali and Syria as well as important political events in Pakistan and Egypt, I thought that today I would see how these are being covered by major American news outlets.

CNN – “the worldwide leader in news” – decided to run with Lance Armstrong on the front page.

Part doping, part Oprah

Part doping, part Oprah

Now, it’s not that CNN doesn’t have a story on Mali; it’s just that it’s hidden underneath 10 feet of rubbish.

Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord

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If you bother to have a “RidicuList,” please also include the “worldwide leader in news” slogan

And while I found a Mali story on CNN, there was nothing to be found on Syria, Pakistan or Egypt. Too much news on moisturizing jeans I guess.

ABC News does not fare much better. More Lance, less Pat Robertson wife pageantry and a slide-show dedicated to nipple slippage. Luckily, these stories are not the top headlines. These are.

Picture 1

Okay, that’s not much better

Depressed with ABC, I thought that maybe Fox News would be a better source for today’s events (no I didn’t). Being mavericks, Fox decided that its headline should be different, so they led with a plane story.

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Give them credit, it’s refreshingly not racist

Not bad, although I still don’t think that it’s the most important story of the day. But I guess I can take solace in the fact that these headlines were only secondary.

No thanks

Picture 5

Picture 7

By turning down the crazy

NBC and CBS’s headlines are on the hostage crisis in Algeria, which is fair enough. Although I can still make fun of them because of stuff like this.

Tough life

Tough life

Even the Washington Post’s main story is puzzling. Is this really the best you can come up with?

Sigh

Sigh

All of this to say that I’m not surprised. I understand what drives the media (profit) and I understand that more hits are generated by talking about a disgraced bicyclist and his shrunken testicle(s) than something that actually matters (a civil war, perhaps). And I guess we can blame ourselves. Today’s most popular stories on Huffington Post had more to do with male contractions than about international relations or political instability.

Picture 9

I read none of these

At some point, though, shouldn’t we demand more from the media? Shouldn’t they be informing us rather than entertaining us?

I’m enough of a realist to know that this won’t happen under our current system of economic incentives, which is why I support the idea of a publicly funded media outlet. The incentive of a public broadcaster is not simply profit (say goodbye to news stories about moisturizing jeans), but about informing the citizenry.

As more and more news outlets attempt to increase profit by running sensationalist/meaningless/partisan banter, there are fewer reputable options available to find informative news. But the fact that it’s more difficult to find good news is less of a tragedy than the fact that our economic system is turning news into entertainment and, thus, making the public more ignorant about the world today.