Terrorism and Refugee Crisis Separate Issues

3200As part of a French-American family living in Switzerland, I recently wrote about the impact deadly attacks in Paris had on my family and friends. My heart was equally shattered after the latest assault on my homeland, the San Bernardino massacre.

Each day new stories evolved about terror in the streets. As France entered a state of emergency and Brussels shut down, our worries escalated. In Europe where everything is a stone’s throw away, we fear for families and friends living in the nations’ capitals.

After the recent attacks, the backlash against the refugees is alarming. European countries build higher fences. American governors refuse Syrian refugees in their states. Do they even know a Syrian? Do they understand that the basic tenets of the Muslim religion, are based on the same beliefs as those of Christianity or Judaism?

Muslim does not mean radical. Syrian is not synonymous with terror.

The FBI insists the biggest threat is not immigrants: it is homegrown extremists. The majority of terrorist’s attacks are not conducted by “refugees from afar,” but by disillusioned youth from within our cities who fall prey to malevolent manipulations of jihadist leaders.

Europeans wonder why American states would forbid “foreign” refugees, yet support the right of any US citizen to carry weapons purchased at the nearest corner shop. Are our fears rational? Why would Americans worry more about being blown up by radical suicide bombers, when they are more likely to be gunned down in the crossfire of gangs, or murdered by deranged lone wolves? We no longer live in the Wild West. Do we really need AR-15 semi automatic assault weapons in our daily lives? And if so, what does that say about our society?

As we gathered in cozy homes, around the soft lights of our Thanksgiving table filled with enough food to feed an army, did we stop to think what it would mean to flee for our lives? Exhausted, starving, hopeless, and helpless.

We all live in fear knowing that somewhere, at any time, another attack will happen. But we must NOT let our fears override compassion and supersede tolerance.

In a blind attempt to thwart the next attack, we beef up security in public places. In this invisible war, we feel vulnerable. We are vulnerable. But in our vulnerability, should we fall prey to prejudging people?

Our daughter, who grew up in an international environment, said it best:

“Like everyone, I was shocked and horrified by the Paris attacks. I am French, I was born in Paris and we lived there till I was 9. My dad’s side of the family is all still living in France, so I will admit that the news hit me differently than reports of other disasters; it felt more personal. But the suicide bombings in Beirut, Baghdad, Nigeria (and so many other before these) were no less evil, the loss of lives no less tragic.The suffering of hundreds of thousands of people, forced to flee their country and finding they have nowhere to go, is no less real and no less deserving of our attention, just because they have brown skin or wear a hijab. When we cannot show compassion across borders, be they national, religious or racial, then we are letting the terrorists win.”

My prayers go out to the families of the victims of the attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and other places, from the streets of Chicago to the cafes in Cairo, to the hotels in Mali or the villages in Nigeria where lives have been shattered by violence.

Yet I plead for peace. Our biggest challenge today is to remain openhearted. Most refugees are victims, not perpetrators. They are often the first victims of terrorism.

Centuries ago when our ancestors, fleeing for freedom from persecution, settled in the New World, the Natives Americans saved us from starvation by sharing the first Thanksgiving feast.

RegugeesWe are all immigrants.

Posted in education, family, inspiration, social view.

21 Comments

  1. Pat , You and Natalie have put into into words what I’ve been thinking but haven’t been able to clearly articulate yet. This pervasive fear needs to be sorted out and dealt with rationally as you have done. Thank you!

    • May the peace and love of the holiday season overcome the pervasive fear that haunts our days. Keep on shining your light on others, dear Kathy.

  2. Exactly Pat, it’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black as my grandmother used to say… Look into our own cultural histories and how we have ended up where we are and living as we live, then look into our hearts and open them to others. This is not a religious doctrine but human compassion and empathy. I am shocked how Australia has been treating the boat people, and the conditions in their detention centres, just as I am shocked by how the white Australians treat the Indigenous people in their own country. The world is ‘broken’ on this level and we can only begin to heal it when we self-reflect and reach out to others rather than pushing them away with our fears and selfishness. Love always to you Pat xxxx

    • Rach, you are so right. We are broken, but your words are like a soothing balm for a weary heart. Thank you for the strong, supportive uplifting hugs you send me through cyberspace. An Australian boy in my English class just gave a speech today about the mistreatment of the indigenous people. I ALWAYS look forward to hearing your perspective and miss you dear friend.

      • Thanks Pat! 🙂 good to know that Australians overseas are flying the flag for Indigenous people… xxxx miss you too xxxx

  3. I am just overwhelmed with sadness and frustration. My own beloved family members and countrymen are on the opposite side of the fence from me re gun control, immigrants/refugees, and homegrown terrorists. I understand trying not to feel compassion is a defense mechanism, but I can’t do it. I feel so full of anger right now…toward people I know and love. It’s not a good place to be.

    • Oh Lynne is their any other issue that creates such an irrational knee jerk reaction as gun control. How can anyone believe more guns will lead to less violence? Having lived abroad for the past 30 years, it is hard to get my head around the logic of owning an semi automatic rifle for safety and it’s even harder for my European friends to comprehend. Seems like a no brainer. Hopefully the peace of the holiday season will override the family tensions. Peace and patience be with you dear friend.

  4. “Europeans wonder why American states would forbid “foreign” refugees, yet support the right of any US citizen to carry weapons purchased at the nearest corner shop.”

    Exactly. Our gun-loving culture is a mystery to outsiders, as well it should be. I am horrified but not surprised by the recent slaughter. How can one be surprised anymore when there are murders of innocent victims every day here?

    • Helene, may peace be with you and yours during this holiday season. Continue to do what you do so well, focus on the best in people and what is good in the world…like books is wonderful!

  5. “Europeans wonder why American states would forbid “foreign” refugees, yet support the right of any US citizen to carry weapons purchased at the nearest corner shop.”

    Exactly. Our gun-loving culture is a mystery to outsiders, as well it should be. I am horrified but not surprised by the recent slaughter. How can one be surprised anymore when there are murders of innocent victims every day here?

  6. Rach, you are so right. We are broken, but your words are like a soothing balm for a weary heart. Thank you for the strong, supportive uplifting hugs you send me through cyberspace. An Australian boy in my English class just gave a speech today about the mistreatment of the indigenous people. I ALWAYS look forward to hearing your perspective and miss you dear friend.

  7. Just read this Facebook post by a British veteran, he says it all !!

    Chris Herbert
    · 8 décembre, 03:07 · Dodworth, England, United Kingdom ·

    Getting frustrated by some people expecting racism from me, because I got blown up. Here it is:

    Yes. A Muslim man blew me up, and I lost my leg.

    A Muslim man also lost his arm that day wearing a British Uniform.
    A Muslim medic was in the helicopter that took me from the field
    A Muslim surgeon performed the surgery that saved my life
    A Muslim Nurse was part of the team that helped me when I returned to the UK
    A Muslim Healthcare Assistant was part of the team that sorted out my day to day needs in rehabilitation when I was learning to walk
    A Muslim taxi driver gave me a free ride the first time I went for a beer with my Dad after I came home.
    A Muslim doctor offered my Dad comfort and advice in a pub, when he didnt know how to deal with my medicines and side effects.

    Contrary to that,
    A white brit spat in my girlfriends face for ‘fucking a cripple when you could have me [him]’
    A White brit pushed my wheelchair away from a lift so he could use it first.
    A White brit screamed at my Dad for parking in a disabled bay when I was in the services coming home
    (Although, alot of people helped in my recovery! I dont hate white brits either! hahaha)

    Point is, fuck off. I know who I dislike, and I know who I dont. I know who I appreciate, and I know who I dont. If you want to hate an entire race of men and women for the actions of a few dickheads feel free, but don’t push your views on me, thinking I am an easy target because one douchebag decided it was my day to die.

    Blaming all Muslims for the actions of groups like Daeshe and the Taliban, is like blaming all Christians for the actions of the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church.
    Get a grip of your lives, hug your family and get back to work.

  8. Just read this Facebook post by a British veteran, he says it all !!

    Chris Herbert
    · 8 décembre, 03:07 · Dodworth, England, United Kingdom ·

    Getting frustrated by some people expecting racism from me, because I got blown up. Here it is:

    Yes. A Muslim man blew me up, and I lost my leg.

    A Muslim man also lost his arm that day wearing a British Uniform.
    A Muslim medic was in the helicopter that took me from the field
    A Muslim surgeon performed the surgery that saved my life
    A Muslim Nurse was part of the team that helped me when I returned to the UK
    A Muslim Healthcare Assistant was part of the team that sorted out my day to day needs in rehabilitation when I was learning to walk
    A Muslim taxi driver gave me a free ride the first time I went for a beer with my Dad after I came home.
    A Muslim doctor offered my Dad comfort and advice in a pub, when he didnt know how to deal with my medicines and side effects.

    Contrary to that,
    A white brit spat in my girlfriends face for ‘fucking a cripple when you could have me [him]’
    A White brit pushed my wheelchair away from a lift so he could use it first.
    A White brit screamed at my Dad for parking in a disabled bay when I was in the services coming home
    (Although, alot of people helped in my recovery! I dont hate white brits either! hahaha)

    Point is, fuck off. I know who I dislike, and I know who I dont. I know who I appreciate, and I know who I dont. If you want to hate an entire race of men and women for the actions of a few dickheads feel free, but don’t push your views on me, thinking I am an easy target because one douchebag decided it was my day to die.

    Blaming all Muslims for the actions of groups like Daeshe and the Taliban, is like blaming all Christians for the actions of the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church.
    Get a grip of your lives, hug your family and get back to work.

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