What the Refugees Need

As a Christian nation, we should base our treatment of those who wish to flee Syria on Jesus’s command to love others as we love ourselves.

That does not mean that we owe every Syrian welfare for life in the U.S.

The first critical point is to realize that not all “refugees” are equal. Christians, and other religious minorities, who face death on sight are on par with Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and we are obligated to help them.

Similarly women, children, and the elderly or infirm need to be helped.

But Muslim men of military age who have decided that they don’t want to risk their lives to solve the problems of their own country have no real claim to anything other than short-term help to avoid being slaughtered. After all, who would have sympathy for Northerners who demanded that England take care of them because they didn’t want to fight against slavery in the American Civil War?

If a country has a problem, be it slavery or ISIS, the people who bear the responsibility for solving that problem are the people of that country. Other countries should follow, to the extent they can, the example of the Good Samaritan and provide help but that does not mean that we must assume all responsibility for the problems caused by Syrians in Syria.

The second critical point is that there is no reason to assume that the Syrian problem will never be fixed; that Syria will never be safe again. While things looked bleak in 1940 the Nazi rule of Europe came crashing down just a few years later.

Obama’s desire to permanently resettle the “refugees” is surrender to ISIS in that Obama is saying that Syria will never be safe, that the West will never win the war on terror in Syria.

Obama eschews “boots on the ground” for political reasons, apparently having decided that the political cost of putting American woman and children at risk by importing potential and actual terrorists into the U.S. is less than the cost of defeating ISIS.

The third critical point is that we must realize that the situation we are now facing with “refugees” from the Middle East is similar to many situations we’ve dealt with in the past and as such we have solutions that worked then and can work now that don’t entail mass resettlement.

The sad reality is that the Syrian crisis is nothing new. In WWII, citizens of France, Belgium, Holland, and many other European countries found themselves occupied by monsters on par with ISIS. Those who managed to escape to England did not decide to become British. Instead they viewed their exile as a temporary thing. Many became part of the solution by joining military units that helped liberate their homeland.

More recently, Saddam was using poison gas against the Kurds in Iraq. The solution was not to let all the Kurds into the U.S. but rather to set up a safe zone where a combination of U.S. air power enforcing a no fly zone and Kurdish self-defense forces provided security for the Kurds.

Such a solution in Syria would be far better than demanding that Western countries take in millions of Muslims who are attracted by Western benefits but who don’t wish to assimilate into the cultures that provide those benefits.

The Western powers, perhaps even working with Russia and the Kurds, could set up a true “safe space” in Syria, Iraq, or Turkey where Syrians could go for short-term safety and perhaps even military training. After all, if the French could form military units in England that helped liberate France and the Kurds could form military units to protect themselves from Saddam, there’s no reason why the Syrian men who want to relocate to the West can’t form military units to protect their own women and children in Syria.

While Muslim countries have shown an unwillingness to help Syrian Muslims due to their concerns about terrorism, Iraq is in desperate need of American help, so a bit of bribery – U.S. support for Iraq in return for Iraq allowing a safe space for Syrians -- might go a long way. Similarly, the Kurds might be more than glad to set up a safe space for Syrians in Syria to provide a buffer between ISIS and the Kurds.

The fourth key point is that Islam is not just a religion. Unlike Christianity or Judaism, Islam claims full religious control over all secular issues. Many Muslims believe Islam has the right to rule in every country and Muslims have the right to persecute non-Muslims. Hence saying we shouldn’t let huge numbers of Muslims into America is not a religious test but a political one more on par with saying we shouldn’t allow communists to enter the country than saying we shouldn’t allow Jews to enter the country.

Instead of meaningless liberal hashtag efforts, we are called to help Syrians who are at risk with our own resources. There are many charities that are working hard and efficiently to help the Christians and others in Syria in this time of crisis. We all can take a real step to help those truly in need, for private charities are good at differentiating the needy from the wanty, by giving money to organizations such as CNEWA which work tirelessly to help those in Syria who truly deserve our help.

We need to decry the false dichotomy that liberals are setting up; that we must either give everyone who doesn’t like what’s going on in Syria welfare for life in the West or that we must stand by and watch innocents slaughtered.
Instead we need to work to help Syrians solve their problem of ISIS and, to a lesser extent Assad, so that they are not forced to permanently flee their home.

After all, Christ’s command says we must love the Syrians as we love ourselves but would we really prefer permanent exile in a Muslim country -- since most of us are Christians -- to getting our own, Christian, country back? Hence, it appears that Christ’s command to us in this context is to help the good Syrians retake their country not help them abandon their country and force them to live in what is to them an alien land.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious and feel free to follow him on Twitter