Rashida Jones writes: Immigration has become an unavoidable part of our global conversation. In part, because since 2011, the war in Syria has perpetuated a devastating refugee crisis, many fleeing the country by any means possible, putting a strain on many countries all over the world. We’ve all seen the pictures: a child trying to flee war, washing ashore in Turkey, dead. Rescued children who survived an air strike in Aleppo, covered in ash and blood. Babies rescued from the rubble. Unfortunately, as long as the war continues, heartbreaking photos of people enduring and escaping war will permeate our media.
Like a lot of us, I have been confused but concerned by the present discussion surrounding refugees. Here’s what I knew, probably similar to what you all know: we are witnessing the largest global refugee crisis in history. There is an ongoing civil war in Syria that has displaced 13.5 million people. All over the world, there is philosophical and practical conflict over borders: Do we close them, do we open them, how much, how many, etc.? And the U.S. has recently welcomed the last of its promised 10,000 Syrian refugees to our soil. Oh, yeah, and there is pretty dangerous propaganda floating around that all refugees are terrorists. Perpetuated by many unnamed international politicians, including a presidential candidate whose name rhymes with Cronald Blump.
What else did I know? I knew that the passing of the Brexit was partially inspired by the false promise of blocking entry for refugees, immigrants, and anyone who falls into the “other” category. I knew that the European countries that opened their borders have struggled with the influx of refugees. I knew that the European countries that closed their borders have struggled with bad international P.R. for being inhumane.
As a descendant of black slaves and Jewish immigrants, it’s inherently hard for me to understand why it’s acceptable for a closed-borders, anti-foreigners viewpoint to be influencing policy and popular opinion. But I try to understand. If I’m being generous, I guess I could speculate that people worldwide are scared? Scared of what they don’t know, scared of what’s next, scared of losing their comfortable lives, of having to find a way to cohabit with people whose culture, language, and religious orientation is unfamiliar. And, yes, they are irrationally scared of inviting in violent extremism. Of course we all understand the instinct to protect what is ours, but at what cost to our humanity? [Continue reading…]