Islamophobia Distracts Us From The Real Crisis

“It’s amazing, we’re going to take in all of these people from Syria, but we have all these homeless people on our streets,” said a few white males I overheard the other day at a Starbucks. “You see, all of these people criticize us, but they all want to come here.”
Have to say, very valid points. We do in fact have severe issues facing Americans today from unemployment and poverty, to homelessness and increasing disparity and more. The only problem is that most Americans, like those middle-aged men at Starbucks, lack the proper context and adequate information to understand all the dynamics at play, and just how much emphasis our government places on things like war as opposed to resolving our problems at home. For instance, if they knew that only about four or five US-trained rebels are left on the ground in Syria after the Defense Department spent $500 million to train and equip people according to recent testimony by General Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, they might have a more nuanced discussion as they sipped their lattes. But when Americans are inundated with messages of ‘backward Muslims’, and public discourse is infused with vile words from the likes of Ben Carson and others, it’s much easier to blame the refugees for their own plight, and continue to act as if we’re doing them a favor by allowing a small percentage of the millions displaced into our country. Perhaps it’s time for a reality check.
The images of refugees fleeing war torn regions and attempting to find a safe haven in Europe are beyond heartbreaking. Desperation abounds as mothers and fathers cling to their young and climb onto overcrowded trains, push back against tear gas and water cannons, walk for days and weeks just to reach more blockades, and literally die as they search for a way to live.
Millions have been uprooted from places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. But if you watched coverage of this humanitarian crisis in the West, you would think that these poor souls brought this upon themselves. Rarely, if ever, is there a focus on our role in destabilizing these nations and the region at large. A direct result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and actions elsewhere), this catastrophe that is occurring in real time should put us all to shame.


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