As you probably know now, about a week ago members of ISIS carried out terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad, killing almost 200 people and injuring over 500 more. The immediate aftermath had people from all over the world showing their support for France and calling attention to Beirut, Baghdad, and Syria, the latter having experienced great violence from ISIS due to its temporary capital being there.
However, many in America have turned from mourning those lost and supporting France to bashing (verbally and physically) Muslims and rejecting Syrian refugees. Within a few days, governors from 25 US states declared that they would not allow Syrian refugees within their borders with Florida governor Jeb Bush (you know, the Republican Presidential candidate) even trying to pass legislature that would protect his state from having to accept these refugees (because, as these governors don’t seem to understand, they don’t actually have the power to deny refugees entrance into their states; that’s a Presidential mandate). Pundits on even the most liberal news sites like CNN and MSNBC have condemned the entire Muslim community, demanding that they publically denounce ISIS, proclaim their support for France, go back to Syria and fight ISIS, and maybe self-flagellate (I am not really exaggerating.). Some people, like Fox and Friends, have demanded that all American mosques be shut down, all American Muslims be rounded up, and that all American Muslims need to go on a Million Muslim March to declare their support for the US and their disdain of ISIS. Republican presidential candidate and overall asshole Donald Trump has recently suggested registering all American Muslims and monitoring them. This despite the fact that our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and expression (and that many of these people are the same ones who, a scant couple months ago, were supporting Kim Davis).
Meanwhile, France has recently declared that it will accept an additional 30,000 refugees. People who have lost family members to the attacks have come out publically stating that they will not hate or fear the attackers but will continue to honor their loved ones’ memory. Muslims from around the world have condemned ISIS and the attacks, starting an international website and the hashtag #NotInMyName.
It is disgusting what my fellow Americans are doing to Muslims. It in unconscionable. 1.5 billion people should not be held accountable for the actions of eight people, and we should not expect 1.5 billion people to bow, scrape, and demean themselves because people who slightly share a similar religion do something evil. We absolutely should not be denying people entrance to the US based on their religion or ethnicity, and we should not be trying to round up and brand Muslims. As our President Obama recently stated, Syrian refugees are “the most harmed by terrorism, the most vulnerable,” they deserve our compassion and respect. “When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted… that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
We are America. We are the home of the free, the land of the brave. We are a beacon on a hill. We are a light in the darkness. We are the land of opportunity. The symbol of our nation declares, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” We do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not give up our freedoms or our fellow citizens to fear and tyranny. We fight, and we help. That is who we’re supposed to be. That is the America I was taught to love and respect. That is the America I joined the Peace Corps and the AmeriCorps for. That is why I can still be proud of my country. That is who we need to remember that we are.
So reject fear. Reject fear, fear mongering, and hate. Embrace compassion, love, and respect. That is how we will win. That is how we will defeat ISIS. And that is how we can be great.
* Photo taken from http://www.iimd.org/?q=node/1874