Altered Reality

Muslim Meme

In light of the frightening events of the past week, I am once more compelled to write about what’s going on in the world around me.
We are living in a scary, confusing time. So much is happening so quickly it’s hard to keep this post current. As of today, November 20, 2015:

11/12 – A pair of suicide bombings in Beirut killed over 40 people; Islamic extremists take responsibility
11/13 – There were seven coordinated terror attacks in Paris carried out by militants, killing at least 129 people, injuring hundreds more; Islamic extremists take responsibility
11/14 – The social media site “Anonymous,” declares a digital war on ISIS. Within 24 hours, they claim to have disrupted the Twitter accounts of more than 4,000 alleged Islamic State members.
11/17 – A blast at a truck stop in Nigeria kills 32 people and wounds 80; Islamic extremists take responsibility
11/19 – 26 United States governors refuse to accept Syrian refugees; A rising number of conservatives are asking for religious tests to be required for refugees with preference being given to Christians.
11/20 – Attackers storm a luxury hotel in Mali, taking at least 160 hostages. The attackers were screaming “God is great!” in Arabic as they attacked.

In order to make sure I had all of my facts straight, I double-checked all the dates and numbers online. Re-reading the details of these horrific incidents made me feel physically ill. The fact that humans can do this to other humans is horrifying; to realize that it’s being done in the name of a God I don’t recognize is incomprehensible. How we, as Americans, are responding to these events makes me sad to the core of my being.
While everyone is in agreement that the attacks are heinous and need to be stopped, the primary issue that has divided this country is the question of allowing refuge in America to the Syrians who are fleeing the political horrors of their native land. This is an ugly situation with no clear answer. On November 17th, my friend, Lisa K., posted the following on Facebook :

“As I scroll thru Facebook posts the massive divide in our country is overwhelming! It appears to me that no matter what the topic there is seldom common sense in many of the posts.
To those who want the refugees to enter the USA….. I have this question. Would you let anyone into your personal home without knowing anything about them? Would it be a responsible action to potentially allow someone with bad intentions into your home that could hurt your children, partners or parents? What is your most important duty? To protect a stranger, or the ones you love? I am pretty sure none of my liberal friends would subject their family to such a danger.
Now to the people who believe that only Christians should be allowed in…. We are a country of many religions and beliefs…. Their religion should not be a criteria. If they hate America and are coming to do damage then of course they should be out! My Christian friends are not this narrow minded one on one…so why spring to this stance for the masses.
We have so many already here that need our help! My thoughts are similar to the oxygen masks on an airplane. We are told to place our mask on, then help others.
Perhaps we need to get our #*€¥ together before we take on more. Especially when we know nothing about the stranger at the door!”

The intensity of the responses to this post was eye opening. While many could see both sides of the issue, there were others who responded with an intensity that, for me at least, was shocking. There was finger pointing, name calling, and arguing back and forth. I could not, and still cannot, believe the venom that spewed from people I thought were good, reasonable adults. Sadly, I see more and more posts on social media that are reflecting equal or greater levels of intolerance.
For myself, I keep thinking of the Jewish refugees during the reign of the Nazi’s in Germany.
The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner most notable for a single voyage in 1939, in which her captain, Gustav Schröder, tried to find homes for 908 Jewish refugees from Germany, after they were denied entry to Cuba, the United States and Canada, until finally accepted in various European countries, which were later engulfed in World War II. Historians have estimated that, after their return to Europe, approximately a quarter of the ship’s passengers died in death camps. – Wikipedia

I grew up in a community that was roughly half Jewish. Whenever the holocaust came up in class, there were always classmates who had relatives who were either killed in the concentration camps or survived and bore the tattoos that reduced them to a sub-human number. I have family members whose grandparents were German Jews.
When my children were young, I used to ask myself what I would do if the United States were to decide to eliminate all of the Jewish people in the country. It was truly a moral dilemma, because many people I love would be among the persecuted, but I also had children who I would give my life to protect. After a long time of playing this mental game, I came up with the solution that I would remove my children to a safe place and then take in all the loved ones I felt I could keep safe. But is there any way to apply that same reasoning to the situation facing us now? How can we offer refuge to those in need while keeping the American people safe?
The other vision that keeps going through my mind is a vision of the Japanese internment camps during World War II. So many modern day Americans are horrified by the memory of that decision, but for some reason, we don’t seem to be as horrified by the way our society is treating American Muslims. Donald Trump’s solution of a “Safe Zone,” in Syria sounds eerily similar.
I asked a good friend, whose opinion I respect, what he thought of the refugee situation. He hesitated, and then replied, “I’m not sure. I have to think about that before I can answer.” Unfortunately, that concept of thinking and researching before responding seems to be a rare one.
Right now, I’m scared. I’m scared for the safety of my loved ones; I’m scared of the extremists who are calling for us to ride the slippery slope of discrimination in the name of safety; I’m scared we, as a country, are going to make decisions that will leave our children and grandchildren wondering what we were thinking.
I know we can’t all join hands and sing “Kum Ba Yah,” while our society as we know it goes down in flames. I just hope we take time to look at all the solutions that are being suggested and choose the most humane, fair course of action possible while still maintaining the highest level of safety for all.

What are your thoughts?