Our Debt to Pay


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A multi-cultural meal with Abood on the left.

I admit that the entire controversy surrounding Syrian refugees is personal to me. I have close connections with the Antiochian Orthodox Church, which has numerous Syrians in their congregations and it is helping the refugees (Christian, Muslim, and others) in their new lives in the U.S. I also used to live in Turkey. I can still remember the hospitality Abood, a Syrian Muslim and refugee in Turkey, showed me. He liked cooking for others and playing American pop music. He was a self-described Avril Lavigne fanboy.

These people who are against any form of Syrian refugee resettlement in U.S. are entitled in that they think that their choices have no consequences. The United States has systemically undermined the Middle East and is partially responsible for the millions of refugees fleeing Syria. They behave as if their choices have no repercussions. This is worse than any of Reagan’s “welfare queens”. They seek to have their moral debt absolved without any repentance.

We are responsible for our country’s foreign policy. We owe a debt. There is a price to be paid. We killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq, aided war criminal after war criminal, utterly destroyed the public services millions rely on,  and created space for radical Islamists to destabilize neighboring countries like Syria even more. Once destabilized, we armed participants in a bloody civil war and allowed our allies to bomb alternative structures to those created by Sunni Islamists. To quote the Antiochian Church Archdiocese of North America’s most recent statement on the refugee crisis:

the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country

This is all done while simultaneously pushing forward a foreign policy agenda that is utterly without substance or specifics. Does the U.S. support the existence of a Kurdish state or not and are we willing to pressure our allies to accept it? Is Saudi Arabia truly our friend and how much Wahhabism are we willing to tolerate? Do we support the official Iraqi government controlling northern Iraq and , if so, are we willing to accept the existence of the Iranian regime that it acts for? What are we to think of Assad and the Russian presence in the Middle East? Most importantly, why ought anyone in the Middle East trust us? The most recent round of paranoia on the part of American conservatives, especially on the part of Evangelical Christians, seems to be just more proof that our moral check is coming up void.

I don’t pretend to know eternal fates of individuals. To claim such a thing would be tantamount to claiming divinity, but Hell will be full of people like this. Full of cowards who insist on a “great divide” between themselves and those they owe a moral debt to. It will be full of Judas’s that are willing to destroy the body of Christ in exchange for physical security. Middle Eastern Christians won’t soon forget how you said that they and their Muslim neighbors are like rabid dogs. It will be full of traitors to the human race and the Body of Christ, like the Absaloms and the Delilahs of the Bible Belt. America owes a debt. Pay it.


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