Syrian refugee resettlement in the US has created the political cause of the moment. Dozens of governors immediately lined up to say, “Not in my state” causing many others to say, “We welcome refugees”. Nevermind that they don’t actually get a say. Social media has lit up with memes and statements arguing the morality, legality, and practicality of all positions.
This has all the markings of a classic modern American political issue that could actually last into the next election in some form. It’s purely emotional and, more importantly, has absolutely no basis in anything that is actually important in the world.
The question of Syria, long ignored while it burned, has come to us as a feeble cartoon now that there’s the possibility that the situation might vaguely inconvenience us. And that’s all we’ve ever cared about.
Even before the issue of Syrian refugees came into the sugar and caffeine laden daily news diet immigration has been a hot topic. Donald Trump made a tremendous splash arguing for a wall to be built along the Mexican border and was never properly called out for his clearly Nazi leanings when he stated that 11 million people could be shipped out in boxcars.
For all the traction he gained debasing the value of political discourse with this nonsense it’s worth noting that there is a net out-migration of Mexicans back home now that their economy is doing pretty well.
Throwing the question about Syrians on top of this really brought out the Nazi, of course, as the already hardened position absorbed islamophobia eagerly. A fire that burns this hot should usually burn out quickly, but we can’t reasonably expect that given how fear has already beaten reality with regard to Mexican migrants. This heat will last.
The bombing in Paris has a lot to do with the intensity of this white-hot fear, but that attack has very little to do with the US. It came in response to France joining the anti-ISIS campaign in September – as the bombing of a Russian plane was in response to their contributions to the cause. As we remember what happened in Paris it’s worth noting that it’s very unlikely to happen in the US simply because it doesn’t matter as much to the terrorists.
Revenge against the French was not the only goal of ISIS. The Syrian refugee crisis has deeply divided Europe and makes any joint efforts on their part much more difficult. More importantly, it has exposed islamophobia at a time when ISIS needs to depict itself as the defender of Sunni Islam in its homeland. The refugees, mostly Sunni, demonstrate clearly that fear of ISIS is much more motivating than fear of the Assad regime, leaving ISIS with a weak hand.
The more ISIS can expose European hatred of Islam the more fleeing the war is eliminated as an option, strengthening ISIS’ position.
This naturally brings us to the related campaign non-issue, which is the desperate need to denigrate politicians such as Sec. Clinton who refuse to condemn “Islamic Radicals” but instead refer to them simply as “Terrorists”. Don’t they do this because they are weak apologists? Absolutely not. ISIS gains by radicalizing Islam and depicting their struggle as a war between Islam and the West. Referring to them in any way as “Islamic” plays into ISIS’ hands directly, so wise leaders will not do that.
But, given that all politics is local, when practiced either by ISIS or a US presidential candidate, ISIS gets to win this round. Wise leaders are in relatively short supply.
This leaves us with a number of issues involving Syria, all of which are easily constructed to make those who insist on doing the right thing for desperate people look as bad as possible. By feeding into an already broken narrative that has been allowed to heat up well beyond its boiling point into vapor it is sure to last.
Nevermind. It’s still all utterly pointless in so many ways. ISIS has their goals and they are executing strikes against France and Russia where they can. Our politicians have their own goals which, like ISIS, are more about an immediate tactical advantage in their local areas than anything that is remotely intelligent or grounded in wise choices.
It’s a real classic we can expect to keep glowing hot for a long time. But it’s still utterly and completely stupid.