An open letter to angry people who are afraid of refugees

November 17, 2015 by Olivier Blanchard - No Comments

Dear enraged anti-refugee masses,

This letter is in two parts. The first is nice. The second is not.

Part 1: The part where I explain things nicely.

If you don’t know who I am, I am a French expat living in the US. I’ve been here since 1994, and before that, I studied here for 4 years before going back to France and serving in the military there. My wife is American. My kids are American. My dogs are American. I think one of our parrots might be Brazilian, but maybe first generation American. It’s hard to tell with eggs. They can be shipped or whatever. Anyway, my house is American, my taxes are American… I have pretty much assimilated to American ways. I have lived here for over half of my life.

Now… When I say that I am French, that’s not entirely true. I am more than just French, I am a Parisian. That’s like being a New Yorker: You’re American, but you’re also a New Yorker. It’s like a dual-nationality, in a way. I was born and raised in Paris. That city is my heart, my home. I’ve built my life here, but when people ask me where I am from, I say Paris. Always have, always will. I am telling you this so you will understand where I am coming from in regards to terrorism, especially in the last few days.

As you all know, last week, Daesh-inspired terrorists (you guys call them ISIS) launched a series of attacks that resulted in the deaths of some 130 innocent people and injuries to countless more. It wasn’t the first round of attacks on France by Islamist extremists. We all remember the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish market a few months ago, and the train thing… and on and on. Terrorism is nothing new for us, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. As sad as it is, it’s just something we have to deal with with tragic regularity. The actors and the causes change, but the story is always the same: cowardly masked men killing innocent people to send “a message.”

Anyway, as a Parisian, the attacks of 13 November cut pretty deep. Once I got past the initial shock and anger of the first few hours, my brain, my heart, whatever, shifted into a different gear: Now let’s make the bastards pay. I am not talking about a white hot rage here. No clenched jaw, no shaky fists, nothing like that. Just… find Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria, and start taking them out. Not “Muslims,” not blanket carpet-bombing, no indiscriminate violence. Daesh targets only. Vetted targets. Surgical. Precise. Effective. Payback. That’s all.

By the next day, it wasn’t even really about payback anymore. It was to some extent, sure, but it had become mostly about necessity: That death cult will keep sending people to kill us as long as we let them. The Paris attacks made it clear. That was the message this time.

Well, we got that message loud and clear. If we can’t coexist, then we won’t. It’s as simple as that.

As pro-peace as I am, I understand that some enemies cannot be reasoned with. It’s a shitty thing to have to admit, but sometimes, it’s necessary to completely eradicate an enemy. That’s just how it is when that enemy leaves you no choice.

There’s a lesson I’ve always remembered from Professor Goldthorpe’s 20th Century History class back in high school… a quote by Machiavelli I think, probably from The Prince. I could look it up but I prefer to share the version of it that I remember after all these years, because it’s where my mind goes on this. It’s my strategic A/B switch when it comes to choosing how to end a war.

“There are only two ways of treating a defeated enemy – give him the hand of reconciliation, or destroy him completely.”

The lesson was about how the Allies treated Germany after WWI: Germany was neither destroyed nor given the hand of reconciliation. Big mistake. The result was the 3rd Reich and WW2. (Contrast with how Japan was treated after WW2. Use examples. 500-750 words, and watch your spelling.)

The point being that there can be no reconciliation with Daesh. Not because France would have rejected it outright but because Daesh doesn’t want it and never will. Fact. The only option left is to destroy it completely, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Now… as a Parisian, it would be easy for me to succumb to fear or hatred, or both. People would probably give me a pass after what just happened. I could start blaming Muslims for Islamist terrorism. I could look at Middle-Eastern men with suspicion, even rancor… I could start looking for scapegoats and potential threats in immigrants, in the sons and grandsons of immigrants (even though I am an immigrant, and my grandmother was an immigrant, but I guess it’s different when it’s someone else, right? A stranger? Anyway…) I could start seeing the need for tougher immigration laws, for more aggressive raids and deportations, for higher walls at the border and more police presence on the streets, and more ID checks and crackdowns. I could totally go for that police state vibe and ethnic separation, and nativism passing itself off as “safety first,” but I can’t. There’s just no rational justification for it. That kind of reaction isn’t just irrational, it’s bullshit. Plus, nobody wants to live in a giant open air prison.

More to the point, even if you find yourself tempted by it, it’s exactly what terrorists want. That suspicion, that fear, that hatred, the prejudice behind it all, the us vs. them mentality… that’s why they do why they do. That’s how they hope to change us.  They want to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims, between the west and the orient. They want to turn us into scared, angry little fascists.

Well, no. Fuck that. It isn’t going to work. I refuse to be manipulated by a dumbass death cult’s tired old mindfuck, and especially one as played out as that one. No way.

… Which is why it pains me to see so many of you take to social media to suddenly scream holy murder at the notion that Syrian refugees (reminder: the other people Daesh terrorists are trying to kill) might find asylum here, in the US.

“But… but… They could be terrorists!!! We can’t take that chance!!! Send them back to where they came from!!! we can’t have that here!!! It’s too dangerous!!!”

Yeah… Okay…

We’ve now reached Part 2 of this letter. Have a seat. It won’t take long.

Part 2: The part where I stop explaining things nicely.

First, let me explain something in terms that even the dumbest mouth-breather in the room will understand:

Fearing that Syrian refugees are secretly part of the terrorism and war that they are fleeing is about as dumb as fearing that Polish Jews fleeing the Nazis during WW2 were secretly Nazis.

Let that sink in for as long as it takes.

Tip: You don’t send refugees who are running from your enemy, an enemy that is trying to exterminate them, back towards that enemy because you’ve somehow convinced yourself that those refugees who came to you for help might really be the enemy in disguise. The raw stupidity and xenophobic hatred that I am seeing on your anti-refugee threads this week makes my brain hurt.

Could there be one or two terrorists hidden in there somewhere? Sure. Maybe. It’s unlikely but possible. I’ll tell you what’s a lot more likely though: terrorists entering the country legally with tourist and student visas. Any day of the week. So… should we close the borders? Build a giant wall around the US? Nobody in or out who might be a secret Muslim? Microchip people? Assign them armed chaperons? Force them to carry remote control mines over their hearts?

How much fear are you in the mood for? We can totally add a side of police state to go with it. Barbed wire is super cheap if you buy it in bulk.

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Fact: The vetting process for refugees is no joke. If you want to infiltrate a country like Greece? Okay. Refugee trains are a decent way of doing it. Infiltrating a country like the US though? Trying as a refugee is just about the dumbest and slowest strategy imaginable (and probably the best way of getting yourself caught). Statistically speaking, refugees are the least likely to be terrorists of all foreign residents of any country.

“But what about the Boston Marathon bombers?”

I’m glad you asked. Via The Economist (not exactly a socialist rag, last time I checked):

“For our readers wondering whether the Boston bombers were refugees: the Tsernaev brothers came with their parents to the US on a tourist visa in 2002—and then asked for asylum. They didn’t go through the refugee resettlement process. They were not refugees but asylees (though the two terms often get confused).”

So right off the bat, you can stop crying big fat scary crocodile tears about the threat of fake refugees. It’s the least likely terrorist threat there is.

Okay. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get to the real point of this letter: Let’s talk about courage for a minute. Remember courage?

Here’s a tip: If you really want to stand up to terrorists, if you really want to show them that you don’t give a shit about their stupid jihad party and their silly costumes, what you do is you don’t go into full-on multimedia meltdown mode every time some preacher-turned-political pundit tells you to on the AM radio. That’s for starters.

Are you getting the gist yet, or are you still chewing on that social media panic sandwich? Because if you need a minute to calm down, that’s cool, I guess.

Second, if you really want to show terrorists that their stupid jihad party is super lame, what you do is you take in the refugees they were trying to kill. That’s right: If you aren’t going to pick up a rifle to go fight them on their turf, that’s how you make your stand: You take in the people they were trying to kill and you bring them over to where you are, and you protect them. And if all the sad little terrorists bitch about it because they want iPads and HBO too, that’s just too fucking bad. That’s the whole point.

So to recap, what you don’t do is freak out and act like panicked little trolls all over TV and the internets, especially on social media, where terrorists can see you pissing your pants en masse. Why? Because when they see you collectively turn into what you’ve turned into this week, they just end up giving each other high-fives for a job well done.

Is it starting to sink in? No? Not yet? Okay. There’s more.

You want to be the world’s big bad sheepdogs, right? The world’s biggest badasses? All right. Then act like the world’s big bad sheepdogs. Act like badasses: Show some courage. Show some character. Protect people who need protecting. Don’t throw them to the wolves because a handful of TV assholes who are desperate for attention during yet another election cycle have convinced you that they are all coming to murder you in your sleep.

I mean… look at yourselves, hiding behind imaginary walls and throwing shade at defenseless people you should be providing shelter for. Protect them, damn it. If not because you want to, if not because it’s the right thing to do, then because it is the most overt act of defiance against the forces of chaos and terror there is (short of mailing Daesh terrorists all of your old CDs of Celine Dion and Kenny G). That alone should be reason enough to open your doors to them: to show that terror has no power over you, over us; that we won’t let fear turn us into enraged hateful dumbfucks.

Collectively, we could be an example to the world. Right now. Today. We could be showing the entire world what character and leadership look like, but instead we get this shit:

“Go back to your country!!!”

“Not in my back yard!!!”

Not in my state, nuhuh, no way!!!!”

Over and over and over and over and over again. Millions of stupid chickenshit comments like those. It’s beyond embarrassing.

How brave! How righteous! How Christ-like even, for a lot of you who claim to be Christ-followers! I’m sure Jesus would have slammed his door in their faces too and told them to go back to their country. I mean… why would he risk giving shelter to dirty shady refugees, right? What if they were Roman sympathizers? Who knows what they might really be up to. I mean… how do you really know, right? You should only help people you know, and even then, not too much because it might make them lazy or something. You know… generosity begets dependence. (Damn moochers.) But I digress…

All of you out there screaming at people who mean you no harm, who turn to you for help because the damn plaque says they should, what happened to you? When did you turn into wet rags? You’re all acting like horrible little cowards, hiding behind safe little screens and typing at terror victims that you should be trying to help to go back to their countries instead… For shame!

What’s wrong with you? Seriously. How did you let yourselves get this way?

It could be you out there someday, you know, looking for a safe haven. Not so long ago, that’s what brought a lot of your ancestors to these very shores. They were running from oppression too, from persecution, even from death. They would all be ashamed of you right now, the way you’re acting. Every last one of them.  The fear, the hatred, the rage, the utter batshit nonsense of it all… I know they would be ashamed of you because I sure as shit am.

And that’s all I have to say.

Shape up.


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If fiction is more your speed, check out The Nemesis Engines, Vol.1: The Peacemakers. Jules Verne with a dash of H.G. Wells and a World War I bend.

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