After Beirut and Paris: Reject hate and show compassion
The horrific events last week in Paris and Beirut,1 where 169 men, women and children were indiscriminately killed, are difficult to comprehend. We stand with the victims, their families, and the people of Paris and Beirut.
We also stand in solidarity with those who are most likely to become the victims of backlash and violence over the coming weeks – Muslims in France and the rest of the world, including the millions of refugees fleeing Syria, Yemen and other countries to escape the same violence and hate that destroyed so many lives in Beirut and Paris.
Terrorists act to divide us, to stoke fear, and amplify hate. They aim to break our bonds of humanity. We cannot give in to fear.
Tell President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject hate directed towards Muslims, resist pressure for increased militarization, and show compassion by immediately expanding the number of refugees the United States will accept.
The extreme right-wing immediately reacted to the horrific violence in Paris by attacking immigrants and by ratcheting up militaristic rhetoric.2 Republican politicians, including presidential candidates Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Sen. Ted Cruz pounced in support of the right-wing’s xenophobic push to let fear close our borders rather than open our arms.3
Within hours of the Paris attacks, Sen. Cruz even seemed ready to justify the killing of civilians in the name of fighting terror when he said: “[Our enemy] will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life.”4
We need to push back hard against the right-wing leaders and media elites who want to blame refugees, the overwhelming majority of whom are innocent civilians seeking to escape terrible violence and bloodshed.
And, we must stop fueling the cycle of violence with militaristic approach, which will only lead to increased radicalization and more deadly attacks. It is important to remember that it was the use of U.S. military force in Iraq that destabilized the region and created the environment that helped ISIS thrive in the first place.
As noted in a compelling column in Rolling Stone:
We've bombed hospitals and weddings. We've killed children with drones. If those are the only responses we can muster to terrorism, we will create generation after generation of people who want to strike back. That doesn't make us responsible for attacks against us; only those who carry them out bear that responsibility.
Our responsibility is to be better than the terrorists, and to show those who might be seduced by their hatred that the world isn't narrow and ugly. Closing off our borders to terrorized refugees sends exactly the wrong message.5
Over 7.5 million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere have left their homes, fleeing violence to protect their families. When they arrive on U.S. shores, they are often turned away.6 Currently the U.S. is planning to accept only 70,000 refugees for the fiscal year of 2015.7 But the U.S. must do significantly more for the sake of peace and America’s long term interests.8
Tell President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject hate directed at Muslims, resist pressure for increased militarization, and show compassion by immediately expanding the number of refugees the United States will accept.
At CREDO, we reject the politics of hate and fear, and condemn those who peddle it; we reject any attempts to demonize Muslim, Arab or South Asian communities; and we reject any efforts to use the tragedies in Paris and Beirut to justify deportations, the suspension of civil rights, or the closure of our borders. We call on President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to stand with us.
Please join us in making clear to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that Americans want them to reject hate, resist calls for a militaristic response and show compassion by immediately expanding the number of refugees the United States will accept.
Thank you for speaking out.
- Anne Barnard, "Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten," The New York Times, November 15, 2015.
- AJ Vicens, "Here Are the Most Horrible Tweets About the Paris Tragedy," Motherjones.com, November 13, 2015.
- Lauren Kelley, "Ben Carson: Ban Middle Eastern Refugees After Paris Attacks," RollingStone.com, November 13, 2015, and German Lopez, "This congressman just showed how not to respond to the Paris attacks," Vox.com, November 13, 2015, and Ben Schreckinger, "GOP candidates link Paris attacks to immigration," Politico.com, November 15, 2015.
- Judd Legum, "In Response To Paris, Ted Cruz Calls For Airstrikes With More ‘Tolerance For Civilian Casualties’," ThinkProgress.org, November 13, 2015
- Jesse Berney, "After Paris Attacks, Don't Close Doors to Refugees – Open Them," RollingStone.com, November 14, 2015.
- The UN Refugee Agency, "Worldwide displacement hits all-time high as war and persecution increase," unhcr.org, June 18, 2015.
- Office of the Press Secretary, "Presidential Memorandum -- FY 2015 Refugee Admissions," Whitehouse.gov, September 30, 2014.
- Faris Alikhan, "The US should accept more Syrian refugees to boost our national security," theguardian.com, October 26, 2015.