Thursday, November 19, 2015

Choose Your Poison

Of all the posts I've seen against letting Syrian refugees into our country the one that has saddened me the most is one that "explains" the issue in this way: "If you have 10,000 m&ms and you know that 10 of them are poisoned then how many of you would still eat them."  This analogy devalues the lives of these refugees making them as expendable as bad chocolate. Of course we would not choose to eat cheap candy when we know some of it is poisoned - it's just junk anyway. How, oh, HOW can we look on these refugees in the same way??? I hope we see them as more than that.

I believe there are many ways to look at this crisis and how we should respond, legitimate reasons to consider both "sides," but this is not one of them! The power of this argument lies in sucking out all emotion, compassion, and empathy out of the decision which it does by making the object of the debate a thing rather than a person. This kind of dehumanizing tactic is has been used for abortion, slavery, and genocide. Obviously for most of us, even those against letting Syrian refugees into our home countries, our object is not to devalue the lives of these people, but that is why we must be very careful about using this kind of cheap rhetoric. The whole intent of this reasoning is to make the issue seem like a clear, logical choice which only an idiot would deny. But this is not a simple textbook logic problem. And we are not talking about colorful, candy-coated chocolate. These are our brothers and sisters. Our children. These are people.

Perhaps a better analogy would be this: If you are watching a ship with 10,000 people sinking off the coast near your home and you know that 10 of them are serial killers, should you go rescue any of them when you face the risk of bringing a serial killer into your city? Look at that mama trying to hold her baby above the water. Look at the little girl clinging to her teddy bear. Look at that boy trying to help his injured father. Look in their faces. And then make your decision.

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