Syrian immigration, terrorism and Western hypocrisy

     Syrian refugees climb up to a field after arriving from Turkey at the Greek island of Lesbos on an overcrowded dinghy, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Greece’s government says it is preparing a rent-assistance program to cope with a growing number of refugees, who face the oncoming winter and mounting resistance in Europe. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

    Syrian refugees climb up to a field after arriving from Turkey at the Greek island of Lesbos on an overcrowded dinghy, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Greece’s government says it is preparing a rent-assistance program to cope with a growing number of refugees, who face the oncoming winter and mounting resistance in Europe. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

    I have been thinking for months that we are having a world war. That has been confirmed with the shootings and bombing in Paris.

    The refugees from Syria are overwhelming Greece, which is already suffering from draconian lending requirements from European banks. International banking is the new colonialism. Greece and Turkey, historic enemies, take the brunt of the refugees, while European countries are slow to admit and resettle. It seems that Western Europe is perfectly content to allow a trickle of refugees to enter, while the river of refugees is dammed at the Turkish border. It reminds me of a holocaust with concentration camps. If the refugees return to where they’re from, they will be killed. But they have nowhere to go.

    When Europeans want to colonize Africa and the Middle East to exploit their resources, that is perfectly all right. When Africans and Middle Easterners need to emigrate, very often as a result of Western foreign policy, they are scrutinized as to whether they are political or economic refugees — as if wanting a better life is somehow evil. Africa and the Middle East are fine, as long as the West is profiting from them. Not if those parts of the world need the help of the West.

    Remember, colonialism did not happen without terrorism. People did not casually decide to give up their countries without force.

    Terrorism starts at home

    Terrorism is the excuse used to prevent immigration. Yet we live with terrorism right here in the United States. We tolerate mass shootings on a regular basis and have a much higher murder rate than other industrialized countries because of the free availability of guns. Our anti-drug laws encourage murderous gangs, who profit from the drugs. We have had terrorist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan. Prior to 9/11 we had the Oklahoma City bombing.

    Terrorists don’t have to come from immigrant groups. They are right here, and they don’t have to be Muslim. The New America Foundation has reported that twice as many Americans have been murdered in America by white right-wing terrorists than by jihadists.

    The way that many people in the West view events is different from how others view the same events. Europeans and Americans are scared of terrorism — but wasn’t invading Iraq terrorism? There were no weapons of mass destruction. If you lived in Iraq, and your country was suddenly invaded, then your army and police force disarmed, unleashing Al Queda and ISIS, wouldn’t you think the Western forces were terrorists?

    The evil bloody terrorism that Paris has recently experienced, other places such as Beirut, Iraq, Syria and Kenya have suffered without as much global concern.

    A friend in Paris, Paola Bachetta, has been writing about racism against Arabs (among others) and Islamophobia in France. This has been increasing with xenophobic far-right groups. Immigrants have been attacked and their homes burned in France, Germany and other countries. Paola has been in Berkeley, where she is faculty, and was worried she would not be be able to return because France’s borders were closed.

    She posted about a 17-year-old boy who was attacked by a group of white supremacists. He suffered broken vertebrae and ribs, contusions, bleeding and blood clots. The boy was saved because a man unleashed his dog on the attackers (who were screaming that Muslims need to leave Europe) till they ran off.

    “PARIS (NOTES ON THE RACISM-ISLAMOPHOBIA BACKLASH): It is often invisible to those who are not targeted by it. But the intensification is happening. A friend just wrote to say that if a new law to eliminate double nationality — in discussion stages now — is passed she will (like so many others) no longer have French nationality though she has no other real home but France. A new directive seeks to “protect” police, bringing them in line with the military’s protections, which will certainly have an impact on peoples’ lives and deaths in the racialized working class suburbs and elsewhere.”

    I think ISIS is more inspired by the secular $40,000,000 a month in oil revenue than anything religious. Perhaps intelligence agencies should consider who is benefiting from that. There have always been groups that murder, rape and plunder for profit. The stock prices of weapons manufacturers have been going up since the attacks in Paris.

    Which comes at greater cost: helping or not helping?

    On Sept. 11, 2001, I was working for a doctor in the gynecology department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. There was a Turkish female Muslim gynecologist, who wore a hijab, visiting to study medical procedures. I asked if she needed help traveling that day. At first she she said she was all right, her sisters were going to pick her up. Shortly afterward she came to me frightened because her sisters were scared to drive to pick her up. I spent the rest of the day arranging Penn security to drive her home.

    I was astonished when someone said, “I wouldn’t have done that, because she wouldn’t have done that for you.”

    How am I supposed to know what she would or wouldn’t have done for me? The kind of people who would have attacked her for being Muslim and wearing a hijab wouldn’t realize that she, an educated gynecologist, is the type of woman the Taliban wouldn’t tolerate. Are we supposed to calculate every interaction before we offer help?

    Paul Ryan and other politicians are trying to score political points by banning the immigration of political refugees. It is already extremely difficult for refugees to enter the United States in the first place. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man accused of orchestrating the Paris killings, was killed himself in a raid on Wednesday. He was Belgian and not a Syrian refugee.

    Punishing masses of people for the actions of a few based on demographics is neither fair nor constitutional. Are people innocent until proven guilty except when we don’t like them?

    Unless we become much, much smarter, we are going to be the first species to intentionally make ourselves extinct. We can’t remind ourselves of that often enough.

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