Nov 162015 6 Responses

Why We Hope the Refugees Did It

We hope the refugees did it. We may not say it out loud or admit to everyone. But deep down, we secretly hope they are to blame.

On Friday night November 13, 2015 eight Islamic terrorists attacked six different locations in Paris killing 129 and injuring over 350. It was another in a series of attacks aimed to wreak havoc within civilized cultures and to draw attention to the faltering cause of radical extremists.

Initial fears were that the act was carried out by Syrian refugees. In the last few years, over four million people have fled Syria as a result of the Syrian Civil War. The initial refugees fled the attacks of the Syrian Government after a fierce retaliation to peaceful protests calling for governmental reforms. Since the initial Arab Spring, multiple conflicts have arisen and over the past year refugees have fled not only the Syrian Government but also its main opposition–ISIS. (See: Belief, Bombs, and Boston)

The rightful concern by many is that ISIS fighters are posing as Syrian refugees and using the crisis to infiltrate other countries in order to carry out terrorist acts.

It’s a fair concern. The international community must do everything in its power to prevent terrorists from exploiting compassion and using it as a means to carry out terror.

Yet I notice something within my own heart.

I find myself secretly hoping the latest terrorist plot was carried out by Syrian refugees. I don’t quickly admit it to others, but I desire that outcome and I’m quick to read any news which might insinuate that cause. When evidence arises that one of the terrorists may have accessed Paris through a refugee route, I quickly want to explain the whole act as being carried out by refugees.

Why? (See: A Christian Response to Islamic Terrorists)

If the eight terrorist were (or posed as) Syrian refugees, I can justify inaction toward the cause of the refugees. In the name of safety and national interests, I can refuse to house, serve, or aid the millions of people suffering from a tyrannical regime (Syria) and a terrorist organization (ISIS).

If they did it, I don’t have to do anything. And I will feel justified in my inaction.

But if they didn’t do it, I must act. If they are the victims of freedom’s enemies–ISIS and the Assad regime–how can we sit back and allow them to suffer?

We want it to be them so we can do nothing and feel good about ourselves.

I’m not claiming everyone warning against assistance or those calling for more vigilance are wrong or evil. What I am saying is that my heart is predisposed to one outcome and because of that I must be careful to not interpret the story through my bias. If something confirms my preconceived notions, I must view that story with more skepticism than certainty. Sadly, we often do the opposite.

As a Christian and an American I feel a deep conflict over the Syrian refugee crisis.

As an American I think we should do very little because we don’t have the money to help and I’m not willing to risk more American lives in the hot sands of the Middle East.

As a Christian, I feel deeply compelled to help those who are suffering. The need outweighs the cost and we will be judged by our inaction.

I’m conflicted. I would never want to do anything which might threaten our security, but I also don’t want good people to suffer while we remain silent. (See: Jesus Isn’t as Conservative or Liberal as You Think)

This month our church had a team on the ground in Turkey. They worked first hand in assisting refugees. They saw moms and dads desperate to get their children food. They watched as people took cardboard so their babies would be able to sleep on something. They were struck by the kindness and gratitude the refugees showed for any assistance they received. They returned to the States with a deep belief that the U.S. should do more.

It’s fair to debate what the “more” can and should be.

It’s imperative that we act in an informed way so as not to empower our enemies by blindly giving them assistance.

Yet we must be careful to make sure we don’t minimize the complexity of this situation into simple solutions. I seriously doubt there is a clear answer regarding exactly what we should. I am fairly convinced that we should do something. I know we can’t afford it. I know it entails risk. I know we can’t solve the whole problem. But we can help someone. We can engage the problem.

I don’t want to and because of those feelings, I’m quick to assume all refugees are evil or pose a threat to my safety. My friends who spent time in Turkey tell me a different story. They describe people very much like me even though they look and believe very differently from me. Nearly every one of these refugees want a meaningful life. That is why they fled.

I don’t know how we can help them, but I do know we better be awfully slow to judge them.

For more, see Vinh Chung’s speech “An American Story” or read his book, Where the Wind Leads, in order to understand this story from the perspective of a child who was a refugee.


6 Responses to Why We Hope the Refugees Did It

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