Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Beast of Our Own Making: Fear

It's the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy....I'm one of the few of my closest friends, that vividly remembers that day. I remember leaving school early; seeing everyone's parents arrive. No school buses running....seeing Mom cry.
 I can't stop thinking about all those losses of the the 1960's...Dr. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, Medger Evers....
Each death was a cut, a wound bleeding afresh. And they never, fully, healed.
 We have *never* recovered from, never fully assimilated... is this why we are still scared, is this  why we are still so broken, that even the thought of new immigrants arriving in this country of almost-nothing-but-immigrants, scares us, fills us with dread?
The horrendous terrorist attacks in Paris of less than two weeks ago, are still being talked about, and headlines like "Terror in Paris" still dominate every newspaper, every social media site. The major point every outlet emphasizes is that one of the terrorists has "a Syrian passport."
And the conversation here in the United States, has become whether each state's governor is able to "block refugees" from entering their given state. I'm ashamed to say that nearly every Southern state's governor, is attempting to block refugees.
Fear is a useful emotion; it can help us get out of the way of a train approaching if we are dancing around, on railroad tracks.
But we aren't dancing around on railroad tracks.
Our government's security agencies (FBI/CIA/NSA) had--for many months---already successfully identified and put on "No-Fly" lists,  eight--eight!--of the nine who have been determined by DNA, to have carried out the Paris attacks. (The lone person we did not know about, was from Turkey. And he certainly could not have carried these attacks out, by himself.)
I wish we had shared that information with France. If we had, these attacks may not have ever happened. My heart is with France, with Paris, with all that is beautiful.
Positive changes are already occurring:
*Increased sharing of Intelligence with all Western countries, regarding terror suspects/threats.
* Reinforcement of security and guidelines in all countries.
* Increased surveillance on terror suspects.
But using our fear of others,  as the decision maker on something as nuanced--and necessary--as immigrants coming to us for refuge, for safety? Syrian refugees are fleeing a madman, and the same terrorists-du-jour that all of us here, also fear.
Syrian immigration, or any immigration,  is *not* what we should fear.
U.S. citizens fearing new immigrants, fearing those who are fleeing awful circumstances, wanting nothing more than a chance to work in a land that will welcome them and let them work hard, raise their children, have the freedom to speak their mind, to speak from their heart, to pray, (or not to pray).
What has happened to us?
It's the fear that is causing so many of us to hate. Hating others so much, we create a prejudice, a bigotry so vast, that it precludes admitting ANYONE fleeing the awfulness of war?
That's the real monster.
Peace, kids.

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