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No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.

Posted on 10 December 2015

No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.

You’ve probably heard this metaphor about the Syrian refugee crisis: “Imagine you have a bowl of Skittles and some of them are poison. Would you take a handful?” 


Obviously not. And thank you for reducing a complex geopolitical situation to a simplistic metaphor. It’s so hard to think critically.

The situation is more like watching the poor family down the block struggle over the holidays. Sure, things aren’t ideal for your family—you have more debt than you’d like, and it’s tough to make ends meet—but things aren’t terrible, and you could help.

The mother tells you she’s concerned about lashback from the drunk husband should you help them out with gifts and a holiday meal. You wouldn’t let little Billy go hungry, would you? You’d feed the kid, and if dad came by acting a fool, you’d let him know he’s in the wrong.

My initial reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis was the same as many: shut our borders tight. No one wants the violence of Paris to be repeated in America. We have our own problems: the homeless, the poor, our veteran population.

But I realized that it was just that: a reaction. I even sought out conservative articles that explained my position, then posted them. Most of us did the same thing. We reacted to the situation based on our ethics. Largely, it seems we have divided into two groups. One, those who place compassion above security on their ladder of ethics, and two, those who place security above compassion.

The responses I got were hardly intellectual. But as I watched the argument unfold, I was struck with how impotent we have become as people. Our opinions really hold no weight because none of us are players in the national security game, nor the refugee program. Oh, you support refugees? How? Hopefully you got a Facebook Campaign medal like I did.

I might as well have posted something out of a Michel Houellebecq novel: how I learned to love living with Sharia. It would have as much real power behind it as my support or rejection of the Syrian refugee crisis, which is exactly none.

The deeper I looked at the data, the more I realized I was violating a code of ethics I’ve honored for a long time: There is no better friend, and no worse enemy, than a United States Marine.

No Better Friend…

We should need no better explanation to assist Syrian refugees, or refugees from any war torn country, than the fact that they are people and they are suffering. They’re just like you and me. They want a life to look forward to, education for their children, and peace for their families.

They are the Iraqi family that risked their heads to feed my Marine rifle squad on Christmas day. They’re the family that brought chai and bread to you on patrol everyday. The family who brought a ten year old boy to the base for medical treatment because he found a blasting cap in a field and it blew his fingers off. Hell, they might even be the insurgent who was shot in the leg during a fight with Marines and instead of the execution his insurgent elders told him was coming, he received medical treatment instead.

More than 125,000 Iraqi refugees have resettled in the US since 2006, and where is the vitriol for them? That’s more than 10,000 every year, enough to hide a couple bad guys. But where is the extremism? Where are the Sharia no-go zones?

They aren’t coming here to build an Islamic empire. They’re coming here to escape one.

And No Worse Enemy.

We need to be stronger on both fronts. No better friend to refugees, and no worse enemy to ISIS and extremist groups who kill innocent people. Remember the guidance of General Mattis? “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

The part about being polite and professional is important.

Take in the neighborhood kids. Feed them well. And if dad comes around with liquor on his breath and anger in his heart, drop him to the pavement.

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