Open Hearts, Closed Borders?
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by Josh Lee
2015 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
For the past four days, I like most of the first world, have had a close eye on CNN and the BBC. It's been on in the background at work and at home. It's been on, of course, because of the massacre that took place on Friday the thirteenth in and around Paris, France. It's been on mostly because I have friends, family, and friends who are like family throughout France and in neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands.

And while that hit home for me, as Le Cannet in the south of France may as well be a second home to me, the issue of my actual home seems to be the bigger one.

Whenever there's an issue polarizing the national community, be it gay marriage or Kim Davis, ordinarily I can easily chose a side just based on my own system of values and beliefs. On the topic of opening our borders to Syrian refugees, this one hasn't been so easy.

Off the bat, I can tell you that I do not agree nor do I ever want to represent those who believe that we should completely close our borders to Syrians simply because they're Syrian. I understand that Syria is the beating heart of the rapidly growing body of countries that is ISIS infected. But I also was taught to believe not to judge a book by its cover or a person based on their religion.

I believe in my heart that turning our hearts against all Syrians is the same as saying that all homosexuals should renounce Christianity. This simply on the basis that a percentage of them believe that it's God's will that we be damned in the same nature that extremists believe that it is Allah's will that jihadists smite us.

I, unlike most Americans I assume, have had the privilege of getting close to not one but a whole family of Syrians. My first serious partner was of Syrian ancestry and his family migrated to the United States, completely legally, by way of Austria. His family of seven boarded a 747 bound for a scary new world. Passports in hand they passed through Europe and stepped out into a jetbridge at San Francisco International Airport.

My former partner had a younger brother. So he must be secretly an ISIS agent. And my former partner himself must be too. And their modest home just outside Modesto must be a secret bunker of suicide vests, C4, and deep dark underground communications on the encrypted extranet with other extremists throughout the country plotting the purge they would bring upon the people.

Am I the only one to whom that sounds ridiculous? As a matter of fact, my former partner is currently a prestigious student enrolled at Stanford going for his doctorate who traveled freely to Oxford University in the United Kingdom for a study abroad program. And really, if either of us was to kill the other, it would be me upon him for commuting adultery as freely as he passed through country borders. And I would stop there. Truth be told, if I had to vouch for his family on my life, I would. Through the time I had the privilege to be a part of their family, I learned so much and was welcomed so warmly into their lives. I would open my heart and my home to them any day.

But freely opening our borders to all Syrian refugees? I don't know about that either. I understand that the risk of opening our door to potential undercover ISIS agents is very real. I also understand that our intelligence (on behalf of the United States and other western allies) is not what it needs to be to properly vet these foreigners. It has been proved time and time again that even IF we are even able to detect whether or not someone has been radicalized, we might not be able to catch it in time. On that note, the western authorities can't even keep our own people in check. Look at Edward Snowden and Jihadi John. Not to mention the countless other American, French, British, Belgian, and Dutch nationals that have been radicalized here on our own soil.

Even if we welcomed in just three undercover jihadist in ten thousand immigrants, we could have a real problem. But do we turn away the other nine thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-seven who have already given up everything and are living sub-human transient lives? Surely, we can't turn a blind heart to them. These are a people who have truly lost everything. Logistically, we can't tell them to go home because they have no home to go back to. Morally, we shouldn't tell them to go back home because they're human just as we are and if our homeland was reduced to rubble, rebels, and rape; wouldn't we want a helping hand? Or at least a better bed than a muddy patch of grass on the side of a road?

Yet, surely, with all the technology, the intellect, the man power, and the sheer opportunity that the first world has we should be able to mobilize and put into place a system as close to perfect as humanly possible. This is a people that doesn't have years or even months to wait. In their situation, every day matters. Every day eight thousand of them arrive on the shores of the western world.

And if we tell them upon arrival that they're no longer welcome in our country because they don't worship the same God as we do, wear the same clothes that we do, or live within the same cultural morals that we do; are we not imposing the same force fit mentality that the jihadists are?

There are times when I'm glad that I'm not an organ of any governing body. There are very few times when I say this and truly mean it, but I don't know what to do. I see the pictures of the Syrian refugees arriving by the boatload. Literally. On dinghees and shit sheet metal rafts they arrive on the shores of the western world. My heart aches seeing that. It hurts to see humans in that position. It hurts because I almost feel guilty for how much privilege I have as a citizen of the first world. I wonder if I should feel guilty for prioritizing my security, safety, and sanity over theirs. Isn't the first world the one that learned to look beyond Darwin's beliefs of the fittest and instead to sympathize with our fellow brethren's weaknesses?

I'll be traveling through Europe this winter. Rome, Nice, Amsterdam, London, and Paris. I would like to make it back in one piece. I would like to feel that I'm safe. But do I need Syrians to be deprived of basic human rights and freedoms, or worse, life itself to feel that way?

I really don't know.