What’s your position on how and why we must help the Syrian refugees?
Are you one of the many clamoring for opening the floodgates and resettling in the U.S. tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East? You’ve seen the plight of these families and feel a responsibility to speak up on their behalf because you are compassionate and sympathetic. You want to do something! We can’t just keep sitting on the sidelines, allowing this to go on indefinitely. Men, women, and children are facing death and destruction on a daily basis over there, even as we debate amongst ourselves how we should respond collectively to help the Syrian refugees.
Surely there must be something we can do, but you’re frustrated at those who urge caution because time is precious and every instance of dilly-dallying could mean more pain, suffering, and death for these refugees who are waiting for us to act. And, after all, how can anyone be so heartless as to not jump at the chance to let these refugees come to America? “We are a nation of immigrants,” right?
Hold on a second. Not so fast. The main problem, as I see it, is that there is a much greater risk of more terrorist attacks like those that rocked Paris, France last week or Bamako, Mali this week if we let these refugees in. Shouldn’t that concern us?
Supposing you are among those pressing for bringing the Syrians here…
Are you prepared for weekly headlines from all over the U.S. announcing that hundreds of casualties resulted from one or more gunmen opening fire at a crowded stadium, theater, or luxury hotel?
Are you ready for car bombs and roadside IED’s becoming as normal here as they are in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria? That stuff has always been an ocean away for us. Aside from veterans who’ve served tours of duty overseas in that kind of environment, none of us have ever seen a pothole on an American road and swerved to avoid it because we were afraid of having our minivan blown sky-high.
Have you contemplated what the outcome would be of a protracted insurgency like the ones our military had to deal with in Baghdad and Kabul, only this time setting up shop in your town? I thought President Obama campaigned on pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan because we could no longer afford the cost in blood and treasure of rooting out those deeply entrenched militant jihadists. So why on Earth would he want to bring those jihadists and their insurgent, guerrilla warfare tactics here to our streets and cities?
Perhaps you have considered all these possibilities and ended up deciding they’re all either too far-fetched to be worth worrying about, or that you’re prepared to take these risks. That’s all very well and good, maybe admirable even, if your neck is the only one being put on that hard line you’ve just drawn.
Missionaries and pastors preaching Jesus to Muslims who don’t know him, humanitarians bringing food and medical care to the hungry and sick, former veterans taking weapons in hand to defend the defenseless and oppressed against wholesale slaughter and enslavement – I have the utmost respect and admiration for individuals who know the risk to life and limb involved in traveling to war-torn, terrorist playgrounds like Iraq and Syria but do it anyway because they feel a calling on their life to help the people there. If I didn’t have a duty to care for my wife and children, I might even be persuaded to join them. That’s how much I respect those people.
What isn’t admirable, however, and what I do not respect is someone willfully putting hundreds of millions of their fellow countrymen at greater risk in an effort to prove how morally superior their Christian love is to everyone else’s.
We cannot possibly know all of what may happen when we make decisions and take risks. That is true. Sometimes risks must be taken for the greater good. Yet each of us is responsible for unintended consequences when we refuse to heed or consider warnings, choosing instead to heap scorn on anyone who urges caution or alternative solutions. Yes, I understand the desire and imperative to be compassionate toward those who are suffering. I feel it too. But do we not have a responsibility to our own people as well, and not only the people of Syria? Yes, something must be done, but must we throw all caution to the wind in order to do something effective?
Take a look at how it’s worked out in the nations Syrian refugees have been brought into thus far. Look at France last week. Look at Europe. It’s not working out so well! Many more refugees are entering than were agreed upon or are documented, and destabilization, violence, and strife follow the throng of Syrians wherever they go. Do we want to invite that into our own country also?
Am I a fake Christian saying we shouldn’t help the Syrian refugees?
No. For the record, I am not now nor have I at any point in the past said we shouldn’t help the Syrian refugees. But we are not so limited a people that we can only help in one way, so unimaginative and desperate that we cannot help them except by jeopardizing our own people, culture, and nation by bringing them to our shores en masse.
How many attackers did it take to kill 129 and wound at least 350 more in Paris last week? By my count, there were eight terrorists. On average, that’s 16 deaths and 44 injuries attributable to each terrorist.
How many hijackers were there on 9/11? Just 19. And they killed over 3,000 people!
My point here is that Islamists don’t need a million-man army assaulting our beaches using conventional tactics in order to be a legitimate threat to our personal and national security. If you think a handful of terrorists slipping in among the refugees couldn’t possibly pose a grave threat to American personal or national security, then you haven’t been paying one lick of attention to the events of the past 14 years.
But all of the facts and logicality in the world is supposedly just me fear-mongering, spreading hate and Islamophobia.
Though at every other time and with every other issue they are hostile toward and dismissive of Christian morality, many on the Left have suddenly had a come to Jesus moment. They’re telling us that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, and so we also have a responsibility to take up our cross and invite the Syrians in even though terrorists and jihadists bent on our destruction will certainly be among them. Case closed, right? They’ve clearly got the moral high-ground here, right? No, not quite.
The Scriptures don’t merely give us a responsibility to care for those outside our sphere who are downtrodden; they also charge us to care for ourselves and our families wisely.
“A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”
Yes, we should do good to those who hate us and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). But my not wanting the U.S. government to ship Osama Bin Laden’s ideological brothers into my town and house them in the apartments next door to my wife and children does not make me a shabby, heartless Christian.
The verses that come to mind here are Matthew 10:16 – “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” – and 1 Timothy 5:8 – “…If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The presence and pervasive influence of wisdom literature in the Bible, including but not limited to the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job in the Old Testament, is a reminder writ large that God does not command us to be foolish and reckless, but judicious and reasonable. How then can anyone say that Christians urging caution and prudence are forsaking their faith in the process?
Indeed, even Satan can quote Scripture. We read in the gospels that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights before beginning his public ministry, and there he was tempted by the Devil. Commanding the Son of God to do this or that thing, the Evil One would quote to Jesus the Scriptures. Yet Jesus resisted him. Why? Because Satan twisted God’s Word to say what he needed it to say in order to accomplish his own dark purpose.
“…Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
What I am saying here is not to distrust God’s Word. Not at all. But God does not require us to follow recklessly anyone and everyone who quotes a verse or two out of context apparently in pursuit of their own godless or idolatrous agenda. On the contrary, God tells us in many ways throughout the Scripture to beware of false teachers and those who would lead us astray by manipulating us under the pretext of speaking for Him.
Do you want to start taking and giving advice on godliness, Christian love, and wisdom? Read the entire Bible, not just the verses quoted to you by someone who has shown themselves to be consistently hostile to Christianity, then pray for the wisdom required to understand what you’re reading in its entirety.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
God is the Father who wants us as His children to live wisely, and to consider our actions and the consequences they will bring before we take those actions. That’s why He’s so happy to give us wisdom when we ask Him for it. Should we suppose He will tell us to live by wisdom on the one hand, and yet condemn us for being ungodly when we live wisely on the other hand? Are wisdom and godliness on opposite ends of a spectrum where you can’t be both wise and godly at the same time, or do the two instead go hand in hand? Take a step back from the emotionally charged topic of the moment, the Syrian refugees, and consider a few other scenarios in which we wouldn’t dare dismiss someone’s sincere Christian love for others simply because they were striving to make a wise decision in a difficult situation.
Is quarantining a highly contagious sick person un-Christian?
Even when a well-meaning U.S. citizen travels overseas and comes back exhibiting Ebola symptoms, what reasonable person objects to that suspected Ebola patient being quarantined so as to not spread Ebola to the general population? It’s not out of hatred or apathy toward the one we suspect might be suffering from Ebola that we quarantine them and require that their caretakers exercise the utmost care in wearing protective suits and avoiding direct physical contact. No, not out of callous indifference or un-Christian sentiment are those things done, but rather out of genuine concern for the well-being of everyone who doesn’t have Ebola. We don’t want anyone else to catch it in the first place, and these measures help guard against that possibility.
Is a young woman not picking up a hitchhiking man while driving alone at night un-Christian?
My wife and I will be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary this week, and our daughter just turned two back in September. Here is what I told my wife in no uncertain terms, and what I will tell our daughter when she’s old enough to drive: If you see a man hitchhiking or standing beside a broken-down car on the side of the road and you’re driving by yourself, you should not stop to pick up that man.
Why would I give that kind of direction? Because the risk of something happening to my wife or daughter is too great in that scenario, and there are other, wiser options that don’t require my ladies endangering themselves. Make a note of the mile-marker and road name and call me or Montana Highway Patrol if it looks like an emergency, and I will gladly drive out there or send someone else and we’ll make sure the stranded guy is helped.
Does your mouth hang open in shock at my unloving attitude? Are you aghast at these un-Christian instructions I have given and will continue to give to my wife and daughter? Of course not. Obviously my caution is not borne out of an irrational Hitchhiker-phobia, nor a hatred of all hitchhikers. I sincerely care about what happens to a man stranded on the side of the road or hitchhiking down a Montana highway at night. But I’m not about to risk my wife or daughter being assaulted and having their vehicle stolen because we missed where God calls us to be wise as well as loving.
Here’s how I think we should help the Syrian refugees.
Just like any responsible husband would implore his wife to not pick up a man hitchhiking down the road when she’s driving by herself, we should implore our nation’s leaders to not bring Syrian Muslims to the U.S. Perhaps most hitchhikers are well-meaning people with sincere, innocent motives, but it’s just not wise to take the chance in these circumstances.
Just like any responsible physician would quarantine a patient he suspected was suffering from Ebola, I believe we need to quarantine those Syrian Muslims who are fleeing the onslaught of ISIS. I’m sure they’re not all ISIS sympathizers and fighters in disguise, but we can’t know with 100% certainty which ones are and are not just like we can’t tell with 100% certainty when someone is still in the early stages of Ebola and when they’re just suffering from the flu.
When you can’t be certain in matters of life and death like this, remember the rule of thumb in medicine and bioethics, Primum non nocere – “first, do no harm.”
“…The closest approximation in the Hippocratic Corpus is in Epidemics: “The physician must … have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”
I believe there’s an application for that principle here. We need to quarantine those persons we cannot be certain aren’t ISIS fighters, but care for and sustain and do no harm to persons and families who insist they are fleeing ISIS rather than operatives for that evil, terrorist scourge. Then, once we’ve stabilized our patients, we need to set about to a serious campaign – not just 50 Special Forces operators and some airstrikes – of destroying the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, that deadly virus that threatens them as well as us and the rest of the world.
But first save the Syrian and Iraqi Christians.
One exception I would make for this quarantine is that I would evacuate the Syrian and Iraqi Christians and other minorities if they want to be evacuated. Men, women, and children alike being shot, stoned, beheaded, blown up, set on fire, drowned, and crucified – the Christians and Yazidis are the ones above all others facing threat of extermination, therefore they are the ones to whom we should feel the greatest responsibility to help.
Conveniently, the Syrian and Iraqi Christians in particular are the group from which we have nothing to fear. When has a Christian ever blown himself up in a crowded market or opened fire at a stadium or theater? It simply does not happen, regardless what some loud and persistent voices trying to draw moral equivalence between all religions would imply about Christianity being as bad or worse than Islam.
Now I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to echo the liberal mantra that Christianity has a violent past too, implying that all religions are either equally violent or equally non-violent.
“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”
– President Barack Obama, National Prayer Breakfast (February 5, 2015)
Putting aside for the moment my profound discomfort and numerous objections to most of the history of the Roman Catholic Church after Emperor Constantine, the Crusades really were on the whole a defensive operation designed to push back against hundreds of years of Islamic aggression and conquering of Christian lands and peoples. Even if that were not the case, however, the comparison being drawn today between the Crusades and the Islamic wars of conquest is so outdated as to be effectively meaningless. You’ve lost the argument, Liberal apologists, if you have to look back that many centuries to find anything even close to moral equivalence with modern Islamist terrorism and megalomania.
One admission I will make is that when earlier this year I read The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden, there were instances of undeniably evil actions being committed by soldiers marching under the banner of a cross, assumedly at least claiming to be Christians. Yet I will point out that no one can say that those evil actions were justified or commanded by the Bible or represented the following of Jesus’ personal example. In fact, it is only because I judge those actions by God’s universal standard of good and evil found in the Bible that I don’t look at them with cold, utilitarian moralizing and find ways to justify them.
Sorry, not sorry – Christians don’t kill and murder just as often as everyone else. Even when someone claiming to be a Christian does kill, name one specific instance in which a murder was done in the name of Christ, follows the example of Christ, is core to a commonly held understanding of what Christianity is, or is even tolerated much-less commanded by Christian groups or the Bible.
Again, it is undeniable that the Christians and Yazidis of Iraq and Syria are facing extermination, and those are the refugees of which we can be certain there is no risk of terrorism, except in cases where an Islamist might only be pretending at Christianity in order to sneak in. Let those refugees into America. Please do! But why must we bring the Syrian Muslims in also?
Islamist terrorism really is about Islam.
Islamists are following a tradition that stretches back to Mohammed, and they’re following numerous commands from their faith’s Scriptures and teachings. The killing that Islamists do is not coincidental to their being Muslims, but is a direct result of their dedication to Islam which tells them that infidels are to be butchered and oppressed and lied to until they are eliminated and the whole world submits to Allah.
There’s a copy of the Koran sitting on my shelf, purchased for me by my mother’s second husband, an Egyptian Muslim. Though not all of it, I have read enough that no one can tell me that Islam at its core is a peaceful religion, unless of course they’re very tricky in how they define the term “peaceful.” If that isn’t enough, I’ve also read Islamic histories, books on the Crusades, books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Yom Kippur War, books about the War on Terror, and I’ve spoken with a brother and brothers-in-law who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of these references taken together should certainly have given me at least some insight into what is and is not Islamic, if it weren’t enough that I hear and read at least weekly of Muslims arrested while plotting or attempting to carry out an Islamist attack against hundreds of men, women and children – arrested, that is, except in cases where they are successful in carrying out the attacks, as in Paris, France last week and Bamako, Mali this week.
If these terrorists are not Muslims being Islamic, we need not fear in and of itself bringing many more Muslims into the U.S. and Europe. But if the Islamists are not Muslims being Islamic, what pray-tell is motivating them all to work so feverishly and suicidally to kill or conquer the world? That’s just it – they are Muslims being Islamic. And if you read the Koran and you look at the example of Mohammed, and if you read the history of the spread of Islam, you will realize that these Islamists are really the most faithful, ardent followers of Islam. Islamist terrorism, or “violent extremism” as Islamist apologists have re-branded it, really is about Islam!
That you or I can point to apparently moderate Muslims who seem to be very peace-loving and respectful toward “infidels” is all very well and good. But what is the percentage of Muslims who embrace violence against women, punishing “blasphemy” with death, or who are committed to a never-ending struggle against the infidels until the world is conquered for Islam? Does anyone know that number with any certainty? Even if someone claimed to know it, how would they come by their knowledge? By the claims of a minority of Muslims living in America and the West, a minority which knows it cannot win a contest at this point if the non-Muslim majority suddenly turns on it and attempts to expel it from their lands?
There’s a convenient doctrine in Islam called Taqiyya which allows Muslims to, in short, lie about their faith in order to save their own necks or spread Islam. To what should be no one’s surprise, that’s exactly what is happening in the West. Muslims wanting to save their own necks and spread Islam one way or another, making liberal use of the permission granted them to lie about Islam while they build strength enough to stop worrying what non-Muslims think of them.
Terrorists are liars!
How many shooters, bombers, kidnappers, and hijackers have announced openly and honestly who they were and what they believed before carrying out their attacks?
“Hey guys! Just letting you know, we’re all terrorists. Now try to stop us before we kill a bunch of you!”
That’s not the way it works and you know it.
We’ve grown hyper-cynical about politicians lying to us in America, to the point where supporters of Hillary Clinton for President will tell you up-front that she is dishonest. Yet they’re prepared to vote for her anyway because, after all, aren’t all politicians liars? You can tell when a politician is lying to you because their lips are moving. This has implications not only for President Obama’s assurances that the Syrian refugees pose no real or significant security threat, or that “we have contained ISIS” the morning that the Paris attacks proved that wasn’t true, or that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is not actually Islamic.
Have you ever considered that Islam is not merely a religious system, but a political one as well? It’s not happenstance that church and state are intimately intertwined in all the nations in which Islam is the dominant religion. So why on Earth would we be shocked to find that Muslims frequently play politicians in America and Europe, engaging in double-speak, and generally telling us what we want to hear so we’ll vote for them?
Besides all that, lying and deception are small potatoes for men and women who believe their religion not only grants them permission to kill men, women, and children for the crime of being non-Muslims, but that it commands them to do it in order to prove how sincere their dedication to Allah is.
Consider the words of Sun Tzu, the famed 6th century Chinese general and military strategist:
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
Just this week I read an article titled At Least 15 US ‘Citizen Terrorists’ Are Also Legal Immigrants on The Daily Caller. This would seem to suggest we have a problem with letting people into the U.S. under insincerely stated peaceful intentions.
Then there was an excellent National Review piece by Dennis Prager back in September titled Europe Is Making a Fatal Mistake. In his piece, one of Prager’s most compelling points against bringing in more Syrian refugees is that these Muslims detest rather than respect Western culture and values, and so we can expect them to remain cloistered in their own communities for decades to come once they’ve arrived. In short, they can be counted on to stubbornly refuse to assimilate to their host’s culture. Meanwhile their children and grandchildren will grow up in poverty in Europe and America, and will be all the more vulnerable to jihadist recruiters for all the resentment they feel toward the nations that welcomed them in with open arms, but in which they did not prosper when they refused to assimilate.
This is precisely what happened with the Boston Marathon bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers. They were just children when they came to America with their parents as asylum seekers. As they grew older, however, they came to hate America and so they plotted for ways to strike “the Great Satan,” as we are affectionately known in Dar al-Salam (“the abode of Islam,” a.k.a. the Muslim countries). What resulted was the Boston Marathon bombing where 3 were killed and 280 others injured.
Despite warnings given to the U.S. government by the Russians about the likely “radicalization” of these two, the Tsarnaev brothers’ attack was carried out as planned. In light of these and many other things, why should we take comfort when President Obama insists now that the vetting process currently in place to weed out “radicals” from the midst of the Syrian refugees is as good as it could ever be? Despite President Obama being so flush with confidence to this affect that he promised to veto a bill passed Thursday designed to halt any further entry of refugees until they’ve been vetted to certify they won’t endanger American citizens, why should we trust our lives and those of our families and friends to the processes put in place to identify and neutralize the threat asylum seekers pose to American citizens? Remember, you can tell when a politician is lying to you because his lips are moving.
Back in mid-September I wrote a short post titled WWJD – Syrian Refugee Invasion in which I asked: What would Jesus do about the Syrian refugee invasion currently rocking Europe and the U.S.? To my disappointment, only one person finally commented just four days ago, not to answer my question but to fact-check me. Apparently, it’s not hundreds of thousands of refugees being considered, as I had said in that post, and those who are being brought to America will be put through a comprehensive vetting process by the U.S. government before they come. I think this commenter may have missed that I wrote that short framing of the debate three months ago and was not referring to only those Syrians President Obama wants to bring to the U.S. now, rather all the refugees our European allies have invited into their countries as well. Alas, it seems many Americans have not been paying attention to the question of what to do with these refugees until just this past week. Other than that one reply, the question I posed back in September has been met with deafening silence. Perhaps it was a complete non-issue.
But then the Paris attacks happened. Just a little over a week ago gunmen and suicide bombers struck the capital of France without warning, killing 129 and wounding at least 350 more. In the wake of these attacks I wrote a follow-up piece to the one from mid-September in which I likened the Syrian refugees to an ISIS Trojan horse. Had I known that over the course of the next week I’d be seeing many old friends of mine echoing President Obama and the mainstream media in a vigorous defense of bringing multitudes of Syrian refugees to the United States, I would not have taken for granted and touched so lightly on what seemed obvious the day of the Paris attacks. I would have explained what I just assumed we all would be agreeing on by now.
So here is that explanation I feel apologetic for not having given a week ago. Here is my attempt at saying what I had just assumed we would all realize: In short, we need to help the Syrian refugees, but we also have a responsibility to take a step back and ask ourselves what our options are here, to think through the issues and factors in play carefully rather than making a reckless, emotional, subjective, and naively optimistic decision in the heat of the moment, then stubbornly sticking to it because we can’t admit we were wrong.
The Paris attacks should’ve proven to us that the Syrian refugees being welcomed into Europe and America will most certainly carry a much higher cost than just what it takes to feed, clothe, and house them. Have we counted that cost, though, and are we prepared to pay it? If they’re coming, we need to be able to answer that question with certainty before they get here because it’s going to be much more complicated and difficult to change our minds once they’ve settled in, and it won’t exactly prove compassionate if we end up jerking the chain back and forth after we’ve extended the invitation and brought them here. The time to decide this question is now, not later.