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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Letter to the editor: Response to Jan. 31 op-ed

I have a few questions regarding next steps for those that agree with last week’s op-ed calling refugee resettlement in the U.S. “inhumane:”

Shall I translate the op-ed into Arabic? Show it to my colleagues and friends who have escaped war, torture and military impressment? Read it to co-workers who face arrest as traitors for working with humanitarian organizations if they ever return?

Or do you all have the courage to say to their faces that because of brain-drain, the best thing for their country is to be sent back to their former homes - to a country that gasses its own people and tortures them to death on an industrial scale? Because that is the argument that has just been made.

Or shall I do it for you? I could tell them it’s better to forget the West and settle in Jordan, Turkey or Lebanon; to live in camps where they have no freedom of movement or right to work- because it’s cheaper. (Let’s disregard the fact that the borders for all those countries are effectively closed).

Will I go on to explain that they cannot live here because they will rape our women, cause crime epidemics or because the faith and values they grew up with are incompatible with ours? I would, of course, ignore the fact that every allegation in that previous sentence, is deeply misleading and flawed. I hope my sources are not too biased, since I’m not using Russian propaganda outlets and holocaust-denial supporting research mills.

I have neither the time nor word count to address all the ways the arguments in that op-ed falter under even cursory scrutiny- this liberal works for a living. The views addressed in it are outrageous and shameful, underlied either by deep-seated fear or a callous contrarianism mistaken for critical thinking.

So let me be clear: there is no defense for Trump’s attempted Muslim ban. Even absent the obvious moral concerns, this ban is a geostrategic failure which hurts our relationships with allies, has no basis in its supposed security concerns, and is exactly what ISIS and Al Qaeda want. If nothing else, I do hope the last point gives some pause.

For the rest of us, there are Syrians who work and study and teach as part of the AU community right now. Our government has attempted to impose a Muslim ban, defended it with a fake story of terrorism, and followed up by floating countries to add to the list and extending the ban indefinitely.

It is currently on appeal in the courts, but there is surely more to come. Now is not the time to be silent; if not this, then what are we waiting for?

If you do not know what to do:

  • Get involved. There are protests, community meetings and outreach activities happening all over DC.
  • Call your congressmen. If they have not spoken out against this ban, they are complicit. This is doubly true for the conservatives and evangelicals among us- your word matters more than the rest of ours to Republican officials.
  • Learn and listen. Beyond CAIR, MSA and other groups which are actively engaged in outreach, the See Something Say Something podcast is a great place to start for someone who wants to learn on their own.

American University was once known for its political activism. Let’s honor that legacy.

Daniel Kryger is a 2013 graduate of American University currently involved in the Syrian humanitarian response.

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