Post-Paris: Americans not safe, must protect country

posted in: November 2015, Opinion | 0
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By Jake Baum

For the Mitzpeh
@JakeatUMD

jake headshot color

Terrorism is a tricky force to fight. In the age of technology, when a coordinated attack on a major western city can be organized through the chat feature on the PlayStation 4 server, what can we do to fight it? The attacks in Paris, as tragic as they were, are indicative of a larger trend of radicalism that cannot be confined. They have showed the Western world that no one is safe.

The question is, where do we go from here? We must come to the realization that no place is safe – the turbulence of the Middle East, seemingly worlds away in the past, has been delivered to our doorstep. And while the 2016 presidential debate agendas are dominated by the decision over whether or not to call the Paris attacks “radical Islamic terrorism,” bigger issues are at stake than terminology.

As of now, what we do know is that the Islamic State (more commonly known as ISIS) has taken responsibility for the attacks in Paris and claims that this is only the “first of the storm.”

When it was revealed that one of the assailants was posing as a Syrian refugee, the issue of the resettlement of Syrian refugees – previously not as much a public concern -came to the forefront of the American people’s minds.

America is heavily divided on whether or not to accept these refugees. Some say we can’t risk terrorists infiltrating the U.S. as well, while others assert that it is our responsibility to help those who do not possess the same freedoms as we do. Advocates for resettlement claim the screening process for refugees is intensive enough to keep ISIS out of our borders and maintain our status as a safe immigrant nation.

Now that the House has voted to halt the Syrian refugee resettlement program, resettlement will be a topic of great contention in the coming weeks. With even French President Francois Hollande continuing the French refugee resettlement despite the attacks in Paris, the world is left in confusion.  The advocates of freedom and advocates of security battle it out while the lives and safety of tens of thousands of refugees hang on the line.

As ordinary people, what are we to do? We can’t exactly make decisions on this issue on our own, and with the states’ governors split half and half on whether or not to take in the refugees, there’s no telling where this can go on the political level. Governor Hogan specifically declared his refusal to accept refugees as well.

Given that the U.S. Department of State has just issued a worldwide travel alert due to “increased terrorist threats,” I am inclined to agree with Governor Hogan. In any other circumstances, I would stand behind the values of this country as an immigrant nation, standing behind the idea of welcoming Syrian immigrants with open arms.

But in these pressing times, unfortunately, no one is safe. Even with the intensive screening process put in place by Congress already, there is no  way to ensure that New York or Washington, D.C. will not become another Paris. Another tragedy. Now is not the time to take risks. Extending our freedoms as a Democratic nation can only be done in circumstances of safety. As of now, even the Department of State agrees — we, as Americans, are not safe.

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