BY KAI PETERSON | CONTRIBUTOR
It’s a bit difficult to write about the attacks in Paris as an American; Paris isn’t our capital, but I think for a lot of Americans the bombs and bullets that ripped apart the tranquil November evening in one of the most iconic cities in the world strummed for the first time those chords of memory struck on 9/11 still so painfully sore. Many Americans have sought to respond in a tangible way. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Thirty of the fifty total Governors of our so called “United” States have vocally refused to accept any refugees fleeing Syria’s Civil War (despite their clear legal inability to do so).
How do the American people feel about this? According to two new Bloomberg polls 53% of Americans oppose President Obama’s plan to al- low 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States. Meanwhile, French President François Hollande just publically recommitted France to accept an even larger number of Syrian refugees— 30,000, than France had com- mitted to in September. And I thought we were the home of the brave.
The attitude of the 30 gover- nors who have voiced so bluntly their opposition to receiving Syrian refu- gees, as well as our collective attitude towards them as Americans is nothing less than an embarrassment. Not only is it a betrayal of one of our deepest professed values, that of bravery, but it represents a stunning strategic defeat in the “war on terror.”
In ISIS’ English-language magazine, “Dabiq” ISIS called for the “extinction” of the so called “grey zone”
between the Muslim and Western World shortly after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris in January.
ISIS writes “The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either… adopt the infidel religion propagated by Bush, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, and Hollande in the name of Islam so as to live amongst the infidels without hardship, or they… [emigrate] to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens… Muslims in the crusader countries will find themselves driven to abandon their homes for a place to live in the Khilfah, as the crusaders increase persecution against Muslims living in Western lands…”
My friends— Americans, Point Lomans, we just got called out by ISIS. Not only are we behaving exactly how ISIS expects us to, we are behaving exactly how they want us to. For ev- ery Syrian refugee to whom we close a door ISIS wins a victory, and for every Syrian refugee to whom we hold the door open ISIS suffers a defeat.
When we were attacked on September 11th, 2001, the United States was faced with the greatest test of her moral character in her history. On be- half of Lady Liberty, we failed that test spectacularly. I beg of us to learn from our mistakes.
I’m reading a book for my Women Writers class called “Small Wonder,” by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s not a book about terrorism, or Islamic Extremism (it’s a book about how to respond to such things) but it was written in response to 9/11 and published in 2002.
I was stunned by this passage. “This new enemy is not a person, or a place, it isn’t a country; it is a pure and fearsome ire as widespread as some raw element like fire. I can’t sensibly declare war on fire, or reason- ably pretend that it lives in a secret hideout like some comic-book villain, irrationally waiting while my super- hero locates it and then drags it out to the thrill of my applause. We try desperately to personify our enemy in this way, and who can blame us? It’s all we know how to do. Declaring war on a fragile human body and then driving the breath from it— that is how enmity has been dispatched for all of time…
“But now we are faced with something new: an enemy we can’t kill because it’s a widespread anger so much stronger than physical want that its foot soldiers gladly surrender their lives in its service. We who live in this moment are not its cause— instead, a thousand historic hungers blended to create it— but we are its chosen target: We threaten this hatred, and it grows. We smash the human vessels that contain it, and it doubles in volume like a magical liquid poison and pours itself into many more waiting vessels. We kill its leaders, and they swell to the size of martyrs and heroes, inspiring more martyrs and heroes. This terror now requires of us something that most us haven’t considered: how to de- fuse a lethal enemy through some tactic more effective than simply going at it with the biggest stick at hand…
“Some forms of enemy are made more deadly by killing. It would require the deepest possible shift of our hearts to live in this world of fundamental animosity and devote our- selves not to the escalating exertion to kill, but rather, to lulling animosity to sleep. Modern humanity may not be up to the challenge. Modern humanity may not have a choice.”
I’m not quite ready to criticize France for bombing Raqqah (ISIS’s proclaimed capital) in response to the attacks last Friday, but what I do hope is that we, as Americans do our part to help our world heal from this era of terror far from over, and we can only do so by opening our hearts in time.
Kai Pedersen is a Senior political science major.