While American lawmakers try to stop any Syrian refugees from reaching their shores, Canada is pushing on with a pledge to bring in 25,000 by the end of the year….and that is in full knowledge of a passport complication connected with the Paris terrorist attacks.
The overwhelming number of victims of Daesh are Muslims.
Most, but not all, Syrians feeing their own government and jihadi groups such as Daesh are Muslim.
That one probable fake Syrian passport has threatened the futures of thousands of Syrian refugees is grotesque and so sadly predictable.
It is also the tiny flame required to ignite another round of Islamophobia, especially in the ‘civilised’ West.
So far it has failed to stop Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is adamant he will forge ahead with his very recent election campaign promise to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year.
Trudeau says it didn’t take Paris to alert Canada to the importance of security and he’s committed to “keeping Canadians safe while we do the right thing to engage responsibly on this humanitarian crisis”.
The refugees he will be welcoming to Canada are from the vast camps in the countries surrounding Syria rather than those who have made it to European soil, and a team of Ministers is well into the planning job.
The number sounds generous, but really it is just a drop in the bucket.
The determination to go through with it is what makes Trudeau stand out.
He is facing objection from some provincial politicians who support Canadians opening their hearts to human distress but not their doors at the moment.
The argument being that if even one individual who wishes to harm Canadians gets through that door the results could be like Paris last Friday.
Dueling online petitions for and against are in full swing with all the usual vitriol.
More seriously, some Muslims in Canada are paying the price of the fear and hysteria so easily whipped up.
A Toronto mother picking her children up from school on Monday was attacked from behind by two obviously very brave brave men dedicated to the fight against terrorism.
They pulled on her hijab, called her a terrorist and told her to go back to her country. She was beaten, knocked to the ground and treated at hospital for minor injuries.
Anti-Muslim obscenities were scrawled on an apartment building nearby, and a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a Peterborough Ontario mosque on Saturday severely damaging the building.
Equally brave are the United States politicians who, like some counterparts in Europe have decided to never let the vote catching Muslim-terrorist conflation go by. Muslims lumped together in an indivisible group make a very effective human political football.
Some politicians are calling for Christian and Yazidi refugees to be allowed in, especially as Jeb Bush explains “the Christians who are being slaughtered”.
His campaign rival Ted Cruz piles on with his claim that there “is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror”.
Can’t even go there, tempting as it is.
As of writing, 30 state governors have announced they will refuse to resettle Syrian refugees in their home states, citing the above mentioned passport failure.
While they can’t actually stop the federal programme, minuscule as it is, they can make it more difficult, taking actions such as legislating to stop the funding.
Fewer than 2000 Syrian refugees have made it to the US in the last four years of war, and they are mainly women, children and the elderly.
Newly elected Republican Speaker Paul Ryan has assured all that pausing the process “is not about politics, this is about national security”.
Tell that to the Syrians bereft of any form of security as they flee Daesh, Assad and exactly the sort of slaughter and violence that has been deemed horrific when it happens to ‘civilized’ Paris.
If anyone knows violence and pointless death it is Syrians.
Conservative estimates put their daily death toll at about 140 over the last four years. Daily. Death. Toll.
That number is staggering and doesn’t even take into account the desperate living conditions in the massive refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, within Syria itself, let alone risking drowning in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, only to walk across Europe in the winter.
It is true that those fighting terrorism have to be right 100% of the time and the terrorists a mere 1%.
It is also true that it is impossible to be right 100% of the time in any aspect of policing or military action, or any action that involves humans.
That is no reason to turn our backs on Syrian refugees now and make them a scapegoat.
If we do indeed stand for the values that world leaders claim were attacked by Daesh, then we must remain true to them.
Closing our ‘civilised’ doors or ‘civilised’ minds does not cut the humanitarian mustard.
Nor does perpetuation of fear or hysteria which gives license to denigrate the ‘other’.
This is an appalling refugee crisis and Daesh made the first move in claiming it was going to infiltrate it. Perhaps it succeeded.
But the call following Paris is to prevent Daesh from dividing France.
The call is also to ensure Daesh does not succeed in dividing this humanity we so easily invoke.
If Canada’s brand new PM believes he can do that, others need to follow suit.