— Tulsa World (@tulsaworld) November 17, 2015
“The Obama administration needs to assure the public that the background checks they are doing are rigorous, and that American lives will not be endangered in the process. Until then, I call on the Obama administration to suspend any Syrian refugees into the United States. During these uncertain times, the Obama administration needs to make sure those entering the United States are not terrorists.”—Gov. Mary Fallin, Nov. 16, 2015
Gov. Mary Fallin and more than 20 other governors now balking at accepting Syrian refugees into their states in the aftermath of the Paris attacks are simply repeating the same Western-world error that has helped to create the religious extremism within Islam in the first place.
It’s a long-term issue. The Western world, led by the United States since world War II, has propped up ruthless Middle East dictators for their countries own vested interests and easy access to fossil fuels. It’s been a form of neo-colonialism, framed especially by this country’s murky—let’s just say immoral—relationships with past and former leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and, of course, Syria. Our policies have allowed the subjugation and oppression of millions upon millions of people. It’s quite amazing from that mass of oppression only a tiny, almost minute, fraction of radicals have emerged to attack and threaten Western-world targets and people.
Anyone calling for a massive military attack that would kill innocent people or stopping the flow of escaping immigrants into Western countries is recycling the philosophical thinking of “the other” that led to Western European colonization of the world since the so-called Age of Exploration that began in the late 15th century and led to the Atlantic slave trade, the historical albatross of both Western Europe and the U.S. That’s what got us here in the first place.
Our task now is to welcome these refugees with open arms while limiting but also accepting the risk of terrorism. Violence begets violence. We need to reach out MORE to these refugees right now just as most of us would reach out to save someone who had been shot by a fanatic, and let’s don’t forget the U.S. produces its own extremists and fanatics—people like Timothy McVeigh— that kill out of extremist ideology and mental illness, which are often the same thing.
Most of the anti-refugee sentiment before and after the attacks has come from Republicans here in the U.S., such as Fallin, other GOP governors, some Republican presidential candidates and the comparable right-wing in other Western countries.
It’s in times of turmoil that right-wing, nationalistic philosophy has the ability to pervade the masses and displace their anger. Just like the attacks against the World Trade Center in 2001, the Paris attacks have become symbolic in this regard. The West and its media ignores similar attacks in places such as Beirut or Kenya, but New York and Paris become emblematic, yet we are all humans, and some of us are dying because of organized fanatics created and molded over centuries by Western barbarity and short-term foreign policy.
After the Paris attacks, President Barack Obama reminded us that these criminals/terrorists, who, again, represent a tiny fraction of Muslims, are willing to die for their beliefs, and that’s what makes it difficult to stop them. We’re not “at war” with a nation or a religion. We certainly want to stop the terrorists, kill them even before they kill us, but the war rhetoric only encourages the type of hyper-nationalism that always threatens democracy and freedom.
Fallin is wrong on this issue. The morbid joke here is whether any Syrian refugees, in the first place, would even want to come to Oklahoma, which isn’t a very enlightened place and is a place of Christian extremism and anti-Islam fervor. One media account reported that only three such refugees have relocated here since 2012. This makes Fallin’s “bold” call seem ludicrous and robotic.
By all means, vet the refugees, but let’s incorporate them into our communities, check on their progress, help them, love them. Love. That’s how you end terrorism.