The ISIS attack in Paris last Friday has already created a polarization of the American public over an event that just a few days ago had united so many. The media is helping us to divide us further over the issue of Syrian refugees all the while avoiding terms that explain what is truly going on.
On one side, we have the jingoists who do not want any more refugees and are terrified that the US will be the next Western nation to suffer an attacks from ISIS. In opposition to the jingoists, we have the altruists who feel we cannot ignore the plight of Syrian refugees for the sake of a potential threat. The media, with much assist from Facebook and Twitter, are fanning these flames without any analysis of how we got here and where we may actually be heading.
The jingoists and the altruists are both right and wrong. If we go back to Hurricane Katrina, we can see the dilemma of moving people from their home and plopping them into a different area. Those "displaced citizens" (FEMA would not allow the term "refugee" to be used) found it difficult to assimilate into their new locations. The food was different. Even though they were Americans, the displace citizens found themselves separated by a common language. Many had medical conditions or drug decencies but with no records or connections, they became frustrated and angry. Finally most could not find work because they had no proof of their skills, education or work history (which had all been destroyed by the hurricane).
Imagine what Syrian refugees are going to face. They will face all of the challenges as did those displaced by Katrina but with the added burden of being foreigners in a foreign land. They are Muslim which makes it difficult to assimilated into any non-Muslim community. Their diets are different and most American supermarkets don't sell foods familiar to them are that are consistent with Muslim practices. As if all of this is not hard enough, they of course will have to deal with the bigotry, racism and fear of Americans who think all Muslims are terrorists.
Mr. Obama is trying to do the right thing in helping the refugees but the heavy-handed approach and secretive measures being taken show that Washington is once again about the create a bigger problem than it started with. Case in point, when Salvadoran refugees where brought into the United States decided to locate them in one of the largest Hispanic communities in the West Coast…East Lost Angles. What no one in Washington bothered to notice is that East LA is of Mexican descent who did not like the Salvadorans (much like Northerners look down on Southerners). The Mexican gangs of East LA began to terrorize the Salvadoran refugees. The corresponding backlash from the Salvadorans led to the creation of MS-13.
If the US does not learn from this example, we could see the same thing happen again with the Syrian refugees. Even if none of the refugees are sympathetic to ISIS, the bigotry and lack of assimilation into their new communities will foster the same resentment amongst the refugees or their children that led to the creation of MS-13.
While the jingoists and altruists continue to attack one another, an inconvenient truth is going unaddressed. The reason we have Syrian refugees in the first place is because Hillary, as the Secretary of State, convinced Mr. Obama to fan the flames of the Arab Spring and oust al-Asad from Syria. (I truly believe it was all Hillary which is why Mr. Obama is sticking his policy of taking more Syrian refugees in the face of withering opposition. He feels responsible but can't admit that to the public.)
Hillary foolishly thought that Syria would topple as quickly as the rest of Northern Africa. But none of the other nations of North Africa had the backing of Russia and that miscalculation on her part has left the world with a much bigger problem than ISIS or Syrian refugees.
The jingoists have been celebrating the French and Russian airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria in retaliation for the Paris attack. But what few in the West have noticed is Russia has upped their game. Whereas the French and American airstrikes have been using fighters to drop bombs, the Russians have brought their Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers out to drop bombs. This is the first time, according to Sputnik News, the bombers have been used in combat. To the casual observer, the deployment of old Soviet era bombers may not seem significant but their use parallels another time when a country in the midst of a civil like Syria reached out to another country with military might.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Spanish nationalists requested the support of Hitler's Nazi Germany, specifically the Luftwaffe. Not only did Luftwaffe pilots move troops and supplies from Morocco to Spain, they also supported the Spanish Nationalists advance on Madrid and the Siege of Alcazar. It is very likely that Hitler used this as way to distract other countries from the re-miitarization of Germany. In supporting Spain, Hitler may have seen an opportunity to create another country friendly towards Nazi Germany that could be used in helping to disrupt France and Britain. Hitler most likely used the involvement in the Spanish Civil War as a way of keeping Mussolini and Fascist Italy from being aligned with other western powers.
Looking back at the Spanish Civil War, it becomes more concerning how Russia has successfully increased its military might in the region under the pretense of fighting ISIS. Russia is not supporting the US policy as much as it is supporting Syria. Putin has successfully nullified Hillary's attempt to oust Asad and has now strongly allied Iran with Syria. Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry can't figure what to do next without making matters worse. The Turks aren't blind to all of this and may end-up picking a fight with Syria and Russia, regardless of what NATO, the EU and the UN say. It wouldn't take much for this to ignite a major conflict.
So the next time you feel like calling someone out because they don't share you view of how to treat the Syrian refugees, stop and think about what is really going on about you. You might be then more tempted to hug your fellow American rather than call them names.