Syrian Refugee Crisis in a nutshell
A common fallacy concerning is the Syrian refugee crisis is the reasoning behind its conception. These refugees did not voluntarily put themselves in a situation to be in a constant state of fear for themselves as well as for their families. They have become refugees because of a corrupt government that turned peaceful protests into a war. It officially began during the peaceful spring protests; Arabs were advocating for democracy. Instead of keeping the peaceful nature of the movement, President Assad and his loyalists turned to violence. The violence of these protests was the leading factor in the civil war that has broken out in Syria. This civil war has now spiraled even further down the barrel of violence, since various terrorist organizations (the most famous in the media is ISIS) have exploited this war by using it as a battleground to gain recruits for their “cause.”
Over 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives and over 11 million have either been forced to abandon their homes and communities or their homes have been destroyed all together. Many policy makers and international leaders have concluded that the only way to stop this war is to intervene with a political solution. However, no major power or institution with great enough resources has stepped up to the plate. “The continuation of the international community’s failure at a time Syrians need help most is a scar on this generation.” (Mehari Fisseha, Journalist) The United States has intervened in many crises, as well as allowed refugees into their borders to aide in humanitarian crisis. Many refugees and ancestors of refugees in the U.S. forget this; primarily, because they are white, therefore have no visual aide in memory. The U.S. is a country made up of immigrants and refugees; with research proving the non-violent tendencies of these refugees, why are many U.S citizens against the entrance of this particular group? While answering this question, it is good to keep in mind the Syrians are refugees not migrants. They are not uprooting from their homes simply to seek a better life; rather they are fleeing their homes out of “fear of persecution, natural calamity, or military operations is out of his usual place of abode and unable to return thereto, who has not been firmly resettled, and who is in urgent need of assistance for the essentials of life.” (46, Refugees, Smith) To summarize, refugees are not coming to our country to mooch off our jobs, steal our stuff or kill us. They are here voluntarily, but this would not be their first choice. Their first choice was to have a new government, within their homes, not in a foreign home.
Comparing Jewish and Syrian refugees: A history of refugees in the United States
Three examples of refugees coming into the United States were the Irish, the Jews, and the
Vietnamese. Refugees are typically feared for three main reasons: religion, job completion, and physical harm. The Vietnamese were primarily feared out of job completion, for many Americans believed the Vietnamese would take their jobs. Both the Irish and the Jews were feared out of religion. Many U.S. citizens were concerned with how the Irish Catholics would treat the Protestants residing in the U.S. The fear of the Jews has the most similarity to the Syrian refugee crisis; therefore, below we will compare the two for perspective. “It’s impossible not to hear the echoes of this sort of language and thinking now in our polarized present, where prominent voices in the American right wing are casting the Syrian refugees as potential foreign agents, bent on sowing chaos and disrupting the American way of life.” (Ishan Tharoor, Washington Post)
The Jewish refugees of WWII, escaping persecution of the Nazis, needed a safe place to go; however, in light of the Great Depression, many Americans feared the entrance of these refugees would take away from their jobs. 67.4% (rounded 70%) of Americans to be exact did not want the Jews to enter. Modernly, the Syrian refugees, in the wake of the Paris attack, were also unwelcomed by the American citizens, in fear that one of the refugees who would be placed in the United States would be a member of Isis, a terrorist organization bent out on killing anyone who is not “like” them. Both crises mimic each other in the similarity of only letting in children. In both cases, a large portion of the United States opposed it. In the case of the Jewish children, 61% said no, and in the case of the Syrian children much support was rallied for Republican candidates who support this view, such as Chris Christie. “The United States should not admit any refugees from the Syrian civil war — not even “orphans under age 5.” (Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey) Christie’s reasoning for having this view resulted from the Paris attacks, claimed by ISIS. Further, he claims this view concerning the entrance of the refugees as dangerous, because one of the Paris attackers entered with the use of a Syrian passport, posing as a migrant. This is where one must challenge authoritarians, such as Christie, and ask if he is aware of the differences between a migrant and a refugee. As stated previously, a migrant is a person looking for a better life, whereas a refugee is a person running from persecution, out of fear. Both are good reasons to leave one’s country, however, allowing migrants to enter versus refugees is a different ballgame altogether. Unfortunately, politicians, like Christie, use terms like these expecting the American public to no know the difference, and they are usually correct and get away with it. The irony is that the Paris attackers were European nationals, not even of Arab decent. Further, Parisians, themselves, are taking 30,000 refugees in the next two years. “Our country has the duty to respect commitment.” (François Hollande, President of the French Republic) If the French are not scared, why should we in America be? This reach for power through exertion of fear tactics is a method used by many politicians and also, ironically, ISIS is using the same tactic.
Using the crisis to further an agenda: politicians and terrorist organizations
The most prominent terrorist group involved in exploiting the Syrian refugee crisis is ISIS. To the majority of the world, ISIS is a group of fear mongers insistent upon destroying anyone that is not an Islamic extremist, provoking fear of the unknown in the world population. However to the Syrian refugees, ISIS has become something like an extremely evil college recruiter. Ryan Crocker, a previous Ambassador within the United States foreign service, who has served as an ambassador to, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, says that by not accepting these refugees into our countries we are feeding into the narrative ISIS uses for recruitment. “It validates their narrative that the West, led by America, is fundamentally anti-Muslim and anti-Arab,” he said. “We’re making their day.” (Crocker, interview with news deeply) Crocker additionally speaks about the bill concerning the entrance of the Syrian refugees coming into America. He exposes it as being a fabrication for a solution. “The bill passed by the House was not intended to strengthen anything. It is intended to completely prevent the admission of refugees by recruiting the director of the FBI and the Secretary of Homeland Security to personally certify that a given individual represents no threat … on a case-by-case basis … you can’t do that,” (Crocker, interview with news deeply) Like ISIS, politicians like Donald Trump use the fear of the unknown to propel their campaigns. Despite his zero military experience, he has convinced millions of Americans he can protect them from the unknown. He and his team use propaganda to stir the pot concerning who these refugees are. Notice in the pictures and quotes below the usage of the word “could” and “maybe.” By using this language, it evokes possibility in people’s minds, yet he cannot be truly penalized for lying. He is not stating it as a fact, merely as a suggestion, but this suggestion has one of two alleyways, one is life and the other is death.
Trump’s supposed “right hand man”, his vice president, doesn’t seem to know the history of our nation’s immigrants. If he does not even know a simple historical fact, such as where the stature of liberty comes from, why should he be taken seriously when he creates policies on it?
What makes this quote so farcical is the statue of liberty is a beacon of hope for immigrants! It was literally given to us from the French, a foreign land. It is a celebration of friendship between two lands, not a symbol of racism, like Mike Pence is suggesting. It is a symbol of celebration of a land where diversity is supposedly welcomed and valued. While the media attention has been primarily focused on the republicans concerning the refugee crisis, neither party, republican nor democrat, have yet to come up with a proper solution that will fit the needs of the Syrians and suffice the fears of the American public. However the propaganda suggested by the Republican Party has impacted its supporters greatly, to the point where they have created mass amounts of propaganda as well.
Twenty years ago this would not have mattered as much as it would have manifested as gossip. However, technology today poses a huge problem to the legitimacy of news sources. Many of these fake news source creators believe themselves to be virtual vigilantes. These vigilantes pose opinion and pure fiction as fact and market it as opinion. The website above is just that. If you look at the pictures above non of these men are Syrian refugees or speaking about Syrian refugees. The authors of this website hope its viewers will see the color and hear the religion of these people as brown or Muslim and hope that they will group them together with all people from Syria. With knowledge of this propaganda one would think that the average audience member would be aware of this, but no, they are typically not. Individuals such as Samantha Bee use their resources to get the facts first hand concerning the crisis in order to dispute these fallacy’s promoted by, ISIS, Politian’s and these vigilantes.
Even with many sources based on first hand knowledge, such as this one are still not believed, however propaganda based groups still are. In addition to Samantha Bee other individuals take on the task weeding out fact from fiction.
- “If an enemy wanted to infiltrate operatives into the United States, about the last route they could choose would be refugees. It takes an extraordinarily long time to get authorized for resettlement and you go through more scrutiny as a refugee than any other class of immigrant. It’s really sad and really dangerous. Those who stand against refugee resettlement say they’re protecting the nation. They’re not. They’re putting the nation at greater risk by reinforcing the Islamic State narrative while doing absolutely nothing to keep it safer.” (Ryan Crocker, Former U.S. Ambassador)
Why are we afraid of the Refugees?
The fear of refugees may stem put of the unknown but goes much deeper into the psyche of the human being. First one must acknowledge that the refugees are outsiders with different ideologies, possible skill sets, religions, etc. however the primary concern of the average American is if they have the same idea of peace as we do. The Uncertainty paradox works to figure out why political intolerances exist. The paradox concludes, in most cases “we have shown that uncertainty in the presence of threat leads to reduced tolerance, whereas uncertainty in the absence of threat leads to greater tolerance.” (298, The Uncertainty Paradox) This suggests that uncertainty alone would not have made the American people fear the refuges, it is the threat other people sharing their religion have created. Uncertainty coupled with threat is what drives people to become closed-minded, therefore un-politically tolerant. The lack of certainty drives individuals to become uncertain about who they are, therefore uncertain about what stance they should take. This moves into the realm of the Uncertainty identity theory. The Uncertainty identity theory can be applied to both ISIS and the American populace, creating xenophobia amongst them. The theory analyzes, “how uncertainty motivates group identification and how identification reduces uncertainty.” (2, Uncertainty Identity Theory) Thus by identifying with a group ones uncertainty is diminished. Especially in the age of technology human beings have become creatures of impatience. This impatience can be seen from a tapping foot in a line at Starbucks, to the impatience of not having knowledge right at your fingertips. According to Pope Francis this is becoming the downfall of religion, for the journey of the self cannot be found on goggle, only within ones self. The uncertainty theory agrees with him. “Ultimately, we like to know who we are, how to behave, and what to think, as well as who others are, how they might behave, and what they might think.” (2, Uncertainty Identity Theory) This is the shortcut to the self and this is the equivalent to typing in your name on goggle and being assigned a rank. This happens in times of great uncertainty, whether it is within themselves or outside of themselves. By auto-stereotyping it becomes the norm to stereotype others in order to gain that sense of certainty desired. “When we categorize someone as a group member, we assign the specific group’s attributes to that person. We view that person through the lens of the prototype of that group, seeing him or her not as a unique individual but as a more or less prototypical group member process called depersonalization.” (3, Uncertainty Identity Theory) Being able to recognize when one is becoming depersonalized is what is lost when you stereotype. Decisions are then made out of selfish fears that in the Syrian refugee situation has life and death consequences. We preform these acts of auto-stereotyping and stereotyping “when self-uncertainty is acute and enduring.” (4,Uncertainty Identity Theory) An example of this is terrorism, thus while none of the members of ISIS have snuck in anywhere as a Syrian refugee. On the converse ISIS and the Syrian government are preforming is doing this to its followers as well. “There is a well-documented association between societal uncertainty and various forms of extremism, such as genocide, cults, ultranationalism, blind patriotism, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, ideological thinking, fanaticism, and being a ‘true believer.’” (4,Uncertainty Identity Theory) All three parties’ can be found in the quote above.
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