This week was stunning to us at RAIN. We have been in the field working with refugees for decades and no one really noticed or cared, or if they did they were either embarrassed because they were unsure who refugees were, annoyed that we aren’t spending more time helping “our own”, or finding us a bit naively idealistic to be spending so much time on such a small population of people.
This year of course was different. This year we’ve ignored the skittles ads and been in awe at the lack of data put out to the public about real numbers and then been absolutely devastated by the suspension of the refugee program. The tiny numbers of people which no one paid any attention to for decades are suddenly the US’s biggest enemy.
But nothing prepared us for the shock of what happened last week. While the world was grieving from afar at the horror and senseless murders of children in Syria by chemical weapons, within one day – without consent from Congress, without consent from any international body, without any discussion with anyone involved in Syria – the US launched missiles into Syria and thus began a war of “humanitarian grounds.” The same government that has demonized refugees, who has refused Syrian children entrance into their country, is now at war with Syrian to protect Syrian children. And the United States suddenly was united again. But is this how humanity is – are we so blind to think that sending missiles into a country indiscriminately – is a humanitarian act?
War unites us but supporting refugees – who are victims of war – divides us. This will never make sense to us.
Glen Greenwald of The Intercept wrote, “That’s why all wars – even the most malicious and aggressive – are wrapped in humanitarian packaging. And no matter how many times we see that this packaging is a lie – in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Libya – we keep wanting to believe that, this time, our bombs will be filled with love, help and freedom.”
We know it’s not true. The same country that wants to believe we are now helping Syrian children is investigating the killing of 200 civilians – including children – in Mosul just last week due to US missile strikes. Last week! But we aren’t paying attention to that.
Please speak out to your Congress representatives and speak up about the importance of the US acting with intention in regards to entering a conflict zone. This is something we talk a lot about here at RAIN – acting with intention. Diplomacy must be prioritized and cannot be ignored, especially if we are really talking about children’s lives.