by Alex Symington…….

I cannot begin to register the depth of my disgust with those of our elected officials denying sanctuary to men, women and children that have lost everything, except for their lives, in the Syrian civil war. The post Paris fear mongering has surpassed 9/11 proportions of hysteria and, is as misguided and wrong headed as was the focus of our retaliation for that event. In point of fact, that baseless reaction created the very thing that today is causing us to go off half cocked again, which seems to be the USA’s default modus operandi.

Just as in the 9/11 attacks NONE of the perpetrators were Iraqi, but we went after Iraqis with a vengeance, so it is in the Paris attacks there were no Syrian refugees, as claimed by propagandists and corporate media. They were all French or Belgium nationals, yet once again we are punishing the wrong people.

I spoke of history last week in regard to the Middle East and Western, specifically American, ignorance of the past being the root of our pain. With the short term memory of a gnat, we can’t even remember 2001 and our misplaced myopic focus on the wrong guys. Reading about how many politicians and civilians alike are reacting to the Paris killings it is clear that these folks prefer to emote rather than think. Any fool can be angry, but it takes intelligence and critical thinking to find more effective paths to even a temporary solution.

There is no magic shiny red button to press to kill ISIS or make them vanish. The real world is not a sterile video game, despite the similarities to it with our remote control drone killings; it is still very messy on the receiving end. For every kill we make there will be reciprocation in kind. ISIS does not want the West to take in the refugees in the hope that some of those refugees will join them to express their anger. ISIS propaganda might sound like this, “The infidel speaks of freedom and democracy, but when challenged, will not deliver.” The West is doing everything ISIS wants it to do. Bomb more Muslims and deny sanctuary to those fleeing chaos and death in order to radicalize more Muslims. Plainly stated, we are idiots playing our parts.

Contemporary urban poet, Eminem, has accurately dubbed the US, “The Divided States of Embarrassment” and a “Democracy of Hypocrisy”. All the strutting and posturing and propaganda are reminiscent of every historical scenario of what happens when the people choose false security over basic human rights. It happened in this country in the forties with Japanese American internment camps and the fifties with the McCarthy “Red Scare”. (It also happened in Germany in the late thirties.) I doubt very much if many of our elected in congress could pass a simple high school civics exam. Judging by the un-constitutional xenophobic vitriol being spewed by right wing POTUS contenders they would also get a big “FAIL” on the test. Perhaps our ignorance of how our government is meant to function, i.e. Civics, is due to the fact it isn’t being taught much anymore.

Whatever happened to us?! What happened to the “land of the free and home of the brave”? Clearly freedom and bravery are subjective concepts these days. Comedian, George Carlin, rest his soul, coined the word “pussification” that very succinctly sums up what has happened to us. We have been “pussified” to the point of being paralyzed by fear of “the other” coupled with an unrealistic demand for security. Come on! Get a grip, be pro-active and not knee-jerk. Stop living your life in fear. As Carlin once said, “Take a chance, live a little! What?! Are you going to eat at Wendy’s and read People Magazine until the end of time?! Take a chance!”

News flash, America! These poor souls from Syria cannot go home. Their homes and jobs and businesses and water plants and roads and bridges and schools and hospitals and libraries and parks and movie theaters and shops and car dealerships and restaurants are God damned rubble! Take a chance! Do the right thing. Be a real bad ass American and grow a pair and help these people out. Is it such a stretch of your imagination to put yourself in their place? Think. Realize and work your Christian ethics and beliefs. “There but for the grace of God, go I”. Talk is cheap.

By the way, the vetting process for refugees to enter the US is no picnic. Refugees must undergo an 18- to 24-month screening process, minimum, that the United Nations’ refugee arm oversees. And that’s before individual countries even begin to consider a refugee’s application and conduct their own additional interviews and background checks.

Throughout that process, U.N. officials and local government officials in temporary host countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon look to determine the legitimacy of asylum seekers’ claims and ensure that they meet the criteria of a refugee, including that they are not and have not been involved in any fighting or terrorist activities. Refugees also have their retinas scanned and have their fingerprints lifted. Christopher Boian, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, called the process “stringent” and “long and complex.”

As congress and about twenty-five governors freak out about people trying to enter the country as refugees, there is a much faster, easier method for would be terrorists to get into the US; the visa waiver program. If you’re a citizen of one of thirty-eight mostly European countries, including France and Belgium, the travelers from those countries don’t even need to first apply for a visa to get into the United States. They just buy a ticket, grab their passport, and undergo the usual screening from U.S. customs officials when they land in the U.S. They are still checked against security databases before they get on the plane and upon arrival.

The fact that some of the Paris attack suspects were European citizens who would have had access to the visa waiver program is setting off some alarm bells. U.S. national security officials said at least one of the eight Paris attackers likely would have been able to travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. Bearing that in mind, our lawmakers are strutting around congratulating themselves, but lying to the American people, WMD style, that they have made us safer by denying deserving and harmless people access to immigrate here, yet are ignoring the real threat of the “visa waiver method” of terrorists arriving on our shores. I’ll say it again…idiots.

With thousands of Syrian families suffering through no fault of their own, here we have an opportunity to show terrorists and the world what America and Americans are made of. Do we repeat those fearful dark moments of our past or create a future and a history where we and our descendants can hold our heads high and say, “Yes, we took a chance, but we saved the lives of thousands of people and in turn became better people ourselves”, or was Carlin right about us?

All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death. All love life.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?

~ The Buddha ~

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