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I feel like I’ve been watching the debate this week about the Syrian refugees from afar, as though I’m peering through a window but not willing to walk inside. I’m particularly dispirited at the response of Christians. Wow, team. I know that this is scary. No question. I watched the news unfold from Paris last week like everybody else and terror truly gripped my heart.
I get it. I really do. The desire to shut out what is scary and unknown in favor of what feels safe. That’s intuitive, right? But as followers of the Prince of Peace we are called to do what is counter-intuitive. To love our enemy. To care for those in need. To extend ourselves when all we want to do is look out for me and mine.
I read this short piece by Shaun King over on New York Daily News and I was struck by how selective we are in terms of what we find acceptable and safe!
This is what our country does. When bad men from Saudi Arabia hijack our planes, we attack Iraq. When bad men from France attack France, we penalize desperate refugees from a far away country who are actually fleeing terrorism.
In 1995, two white men made homemade bombs and blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City. Even though Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people, wounded 680 others, and did over $680 million in damage, their heinous actions were not seen as an indictment of bitter white men in any way.
In 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold took machine guns, bombs and 99 explosive devices to Columbine High School in Colorado, killed 12 people and injured 21 others, people who looked like them weren’t restricted or profiled moving forward.
In 2012, James Holmes, a white PhD student, took automatic weapons into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and slaughtered 12 people and injured 70 others. In spite of this, the next day, all over America, white men were free to go see whatever movie they chose without even a hint of suspicion.
In December 2012, Adam Lanza, a white 20-year-old, killed 20 elementary school students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the most American children killed in one attack since the Oklahoma City bombing.
And why are we so blatantly ignoring two core components of the Christian life?
- Do not be afraid
- Care for the widows/orphans/strangers
This tweet pretty much sums it up.
if only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 16, 2015