The exodus of refugees from Syria has forced the United States to grapple with a crisis of its own making. If we hadn’t unseated Saddam Hussein and replaced him with a weak and fractious government, ISIS probably would never have established a base of operations in northern Iraq. Without that swath of its territory, it probably wouldn’t be so tenacious in Syria. The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is in large part a consequence of our adventurous (read: dumb) foreign policy. From that perspective, you can see the waves of refugees pouring out of Syria as a judgment on the West, or as an opportunity for us to atone by being kind to the people whose lives we basically destroyed.
Or maybe it’s a Muslim takeover! Not content to let us bomb and then restructure their societies, those bloodthirsty conquerers now want to come live with us. And you know what that means: sharia law, or just generalized rape and murder, which the Quran pretty much demands. I’m paraphrasing the letters to the editor page of the Missoulian, here. You can also find this kind of semi-polite bigotry on the Ravalli County Commission or, a couple of times in the last two months, on the steps of the Missoula County courthouse.
Back when all this nonsense started, there were no concrete plans to bring Syrian refugees to western Montana. In protesting against something that wasn’t happening, though, the protestors were so ignorant and awful they made the opposite position seem like a moral imperative. As a result of their efforts, the Missoula County Commission and various resettlement agencies have committed to bringing 100 refugees to the area next year. It’s almost as though forcing a public debate on an issue you know virtually nothing about were a bad strategy. You can read my assessment of the anti-refugee movement in this week’s column in the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!