There’s plenty that’s been said already about the events in Paris last week. I can’t add anything useful. I wanted to talk instead about the truly ugly aftermath that’s emerging from this. That is the political pandering against Syrian refugees, and the ways that it’s going to make a serious problem even worse.
There’s already the ever-present undercurrent of Islamophobia that’s existed since, well, ever if you really think about it. Then it got super exacerbated when it was found that the main planner behind the attacks in Paris used a fake Syrian passport to get into Europe as a refugee. And like that, we were off to the races, with the goal being for conservatives to see just how far down the rabbit hole they could go. Now there are 31 of 50 state governors who say that they will not allow Syrian refugees to settle in their states. This includes my home state of New Jersey, mostly because we have a Republican governor who still thinks he can be President one day. The menagerie of Republican Presidential nominees are spouting off plenty of nonsense. Politicians of all stripes just seem to be on a race to the bottom. Hell, I’ve seen more posts on Facebook about people having to delete other people or stop going on Facebook in the past week because of their terrible invective than ever (and it’s sad when someone you genuinely like on Facebook turns out to be a xenophobe, isn’t it?).
I wish I could ask how we’ve gotten so close to the bottom, but I think the reality is that we’ve been here for a very long time. This is 14 years of hatred that has just seethed and bubbled and grown, and now it’s exploding. We have exposed the worst of ourselves to the world, and everyone is watching.
And the thing that drives me fucking crazy is that, to some degree, isn’t this what ISIS and their ilk want? They are very successful at recruiting young people who feel disaffected in the Western world. The vast majority are kids who came up in a Western environment. Like the Boston bombers. Everyone remembers them as young kids who liked to lift and look good, until they were about something else. What better way to turn around and show these people how the Western world truly is against them, and bolster their ranks. Trust me, that’s powerful stuff.
In the end, I feel for the Syrians who really just want to get away from a world that’s bad all around. They have Assad on one side, ISIS on the other. No wonder they are fleeing Syria in droves. It’s too bad that they are soon going to feel like they have nowhere else to go in the world at all.