Eat That Frog

A friend has been encouraging me to read this book for a long time, so now I’m finally doing it to help me with my dire procrastination habits. Thanks, Jeremy.EatThatFrog

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The Syrian Refugees

Having posted a lot on political events recently, and throughout the years, I’m sure everybody has an opinion of where I stand on the political spectrum. I’ve said it before that I’m a moderate, although I’ve been labeled a liberal, presumably because my beliefs aren’t at the far right extreme, so by definition, of course I’m a liberal. Regardless, I’m in the middle. For example, I support concealed carry when it comes to guns. That’s not a very liberal position, is it? I’m not even against it in public and private venues, although those venues should have the right to institute a “no guns allowed” policy. So I’m not sure as to where that places me in the eyes of the Right.

Having said that, my defense of muslims in general might lead people to assume that means that I blindly support accepting those 10,000 Syrian refugees into our country. I actually haven’t made a decision of where I stand on that. I understand the legitimate concerns that terrorists can sneak in. But I don’t like the creeping xenophobia that’s taking over a large part of our political discourse. If you’re not familiar with the term, “xenophobia” is very similar to racism, only instead targeting specific races, xenophobia targets pretty much any outsider who’s not “like us”. And it’s something that I think is going to dominate our society in the years ahead, and it’s already getting ugly.

But back to the refugees. It seems to me that a way can be found that can alleviate the concerns of people. First of all, I think it’s vital that we prioritize women, children, and the elderly. There are, indeed, many draft-age men among the refugees, but that’s because they are fleeing being conscripted into Assad’s army. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any women and children at all. Or have you ignored the photo of the three year old boy who drowned offshore near Turkey?

Secondly, I want to know exactly what taking them in entails: I certainly wouldn’t support just docking a boat off shore and letting them all flood into the hinterlands unmonitored. Where, exactly, are they going to be placed? When they talk about vetting, where does this vetting happen? I’ve heard it takes upwards of two years for the refugee screening process to be complete; where will they all be in the mean time? Can we/should we set up some kind of refugee camp somewhere to house them? We’re somewhat fortunate in that 10,000 seems like a number we can cope with, not like the literally millions that Europe is straining under right now. We need to help these people, but that also should ultimately mean defeating Daesh (remember that term: it’s another name for ISIS that seems to finally be taking root in the media, and it’s a preferred term for various reasons) and stabilizing Syria so they can go home. Is that even possible? It’s such a bleak situation that it seems futile, but we need to find a way.

Now, I’m sure there are people there ready to post links in comments to some right-wing websites “proving” this or that, blah blah blah…save it. I simply don’t trust those sites’ honesty. And I don’t believe Obama is purposefully letting in terrorists because he’s out to destroy this country. So don’t bother. I’m just saying that we can at least let the women, children and elderly in.

More about that unfriending; my full length response

Despite suggesting that I was going to cool it with the political posts because of the estrangement it is causing with certain friends, I do have something more to say about it. I was offended at being called out on someone else’s wall; at least that’s how I felt. He tagged me in his post that included a video where somebody on a panel was going on at length about it being irrelevant that the majority of muslims were peace loving, because it only takes a few to do a lot of damage. There was also a handy Nazi Germany analogy thrown in for good measure (as in the majority of Germans were peaceful, but still went along with the Nazi plan). While those kinds of statements are red meat for people of his political persuasion, analogies are always dubious, at best. That includes when I use them.

I responded very tersely and coldly by telling him not to tag me in his posts like that. He responded by indicating that I could dish it out but not take it. I replied back that I already knew his opinion and that that wasn’t the first time somebody tagged me with that video.

A couple hours later, I cooled off and began typing a fuller response. Only when I was about to post it to his thread did I discover that he had unfriended me. And that did bum me out, although I wonder if that’s simply for the best because going on about it simply makes everyone mad. I did send him private message apologizing for my terseness. We’ll have to see how things are the next time I run into him in person.

But below is the full original response I had typed up that I’m going to go ahead and share, because it does reflect my response to the same sentiment I’m currently seeing on social media, which goes beyond being uncomfortable with letting any Syrian refugees into our country and onto the larger issue of how a lot of Americans view muslims in general:

I apologize that my initial response was terse. I’ve had this argument many times before, and wasn’t in any mood revisit, because it almost always immediately goes in circles. Also, calling me out like that on your wall doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve voiced my opinion on my wall many times, but as far as I can remember I’ve rarely if ever called someone out by name like that.

As far as that video, I am compelled to say something, because not responding plays into what I think is your position that I can dish it out but not take it. So…as much as I can make out from the video, that woman’s point is that it doesn’t matter if the majority of muslims are peace loving because it only takes a few to wreak havoc? Something about a comparison to Nazis in there, too?

And that argument justifies…what? That we have to view all muslims as potential fifth columnists? And what does that mean? Where does the next logical step take us from there? I don’t really get it. But you know what? You are, in fact, correct. It doesn’t take a lot of people to wreak havoc. Like how it only took 1 white guy to kill 9 black people at that church in Columbia, South Carolina this summer…or how it took only one white guy to kill 12 people and injure 70 people in the Aurora movie theater…or how it only took one other white guy to shoot up all of those sorority girls in California…or how yet another white guy all by himself murdered 20 children at Sandy Hook…and let’s not forget how it only took three white guys to conspire to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and injured 600. I mean, really! Fucking white guys, right?

And, btw, that Nazi Germany comparison is specious because that was a homogenous country whose people spoke the same language under the control of a single government, while the Muslim world comprises dozens of nations with peoples of various ethnicities speaking several languages, and are not under one single government, but are indeed often oppressed to the point that they’re simply not able to speak out. But what’s the use of going on? I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine.

But you should be content knowing that it seems that public opinion is swinging more towards your side as a result of Paris and that the prospect of a “President-elect Trump” a year from now just increased exponentially. Though, you should also realize that pursuing a policy of suspicion and hostility towards all muslims plays right into ISIS’ hands, because that’s really what they’re after when they attack western cities and civilians; they want the backlash against all muslims to drive them all into their protection and control.

That was the end of my response to him, that I wasn’t able to post because I had been unfriended. But I do have one more thing to say on the issue: For everybody out there who’s suggesting that it doesn’t matter that the majority of muslims are peaceful because of a few assholes who ruin it for all of them…try switching out the word “black” for “muslim”.

Unfriended

I just got unfriended by somebody who evidently took offense to my terse response to being called out, as I saw it, over a political debate tonight. I’m actually bummed out, because he’s a good guy, and we just have different opinions. I admit, I’ve probably tended to make it personal. Maybe it’s time to cool off on the political stuff for a while…