“The truth has become an insult.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi
The truth used to be a vaunted thing. Thomas Huxley said that we must learn what is true in order to do what is right. Christ himself said the truth shall set you free. Truth has become a relic; our culture pawned it to buy safe spaces and shiny lies. As a result of our being deprived of such an essential social nutrient, we’ve developed a sort of anaphylactic response when exposed to hard reality.
The latest hard truth to which we’ve reacted badly has to do with the Syrian migrant situation. After the mass-casualty attack in Paris at the hands of the Islamic State, it has come to light that one or more of the attackers may have snuck into Europe as a Syrian “refugee.” Earlier this year, BuzzFeed allegedly interviewed an IS operative who said the radical Islamic organization had already smuggled members into Europe under the guise of refugees. Another account backed the story up.
Even FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach told Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) that he was “concerned” about refugees coming to the United States, saying the agency would have to be “very careful” in their vetting process. Rep. McCaul, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security himself, said there were “gaping holes” in the vetting process.
In response to the news that some of the Paris attackers may have concealed themselves among refugees, the governors of twenty-four states and counting have stated they will not accept Syrian refugees in their states due to safety concerns.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey wrote:
“Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona…These acts serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists. Our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens.”
A friend posted Ducey’s statement on Facebook in disgust, and the comments his post received were equally indignant. How cruel! Sick! One commenter even made a reference to Jews fleeing Hitler’s Germany. The post, as well as the comments, fall under a logical fallacy known as Ad Misericordiam, aka “Appeal to Pity.” Logic has been removed from the argument completely, and replaced with emotion–specifically the pity we should feel toward the actual refugees fleeing Bashar al-Assad’s Syria.
But we must line up the facts:
- The Islamic State is an increasingly powerful enemy bent on the complete annihilation of western society. They themselves have stated this goal.
- The vetting process for Syrian refugees is obviously flawed, because members of IS were able to infiltrate Europe among the masses. Credible anecdotal evidence backs this up, and if the AFP reports are true, it will be proven fact.
- IS has shown extraordinary sophistication in their attack on Paris, as well as their alleged attack on the Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula last month.
- Should the United States accept refugees en masse with alleged “gaping holes” in the vetting process, it is not only possible, but highly probable that embedded among the thousands of legitimately fleeing migrants will be IS operatives.
So my question is as follows: Do you want to survive?
IS leaders have labeled Washington D.C. as their favored U.S. target. Do you have family or friends in the capital? When D.C. is rocked by explosives, and Americans are gunned down by IS operatives in a coordinated effort, would you be willing to say you fought for those people to come here? Of course you would say you never meant for Islamic militants to come here. You were just being compassionate. It’s not your fault! But in the face of overwhelming evidence–both anecdotal and formal–that suggests a high probability of danger if the United States takes in thousands of Syrian migrants, your declarations of ignorance would ring false.
What Ad Misericordiam argumentation does is obscure rational thought processes with irrational emotions. Those who follow logic and reason are labeled cruel, racist, and xenophobic.
The United States has no responsibility to help refugees. It sounds callous, but it’s true. We aren’t the world’s parents. Additionally, it’s the president’s first and primary duty to protect the citizens of the United States. Given what we now know, bringing in thousands of improperly vetted Syrian refugees would truly be a dereliction of that primary duty on the president’s part.
There are other options that don’t endanger the lives of millions of Americans. We could help relocate refugees to other Gulf nations, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE, who, by the way, have taken few to no refugees. We could also help in a financial capacity. We’ve already given $4.5 billion to aid Syrian refugees since 2011. But this isn’t the point.
We are in danger. We cannot allow emotions to overwhelm reality, nor can we allow people to shame us for telling the truth.