by William Skink
People outside the bubble of Missoula County are starting to make their opinions known about Missoula’s intention to accept 100 Syrian refugees a year. Ravalli County Commissioners will be taking up this issue today:
The Ravalli County Commission on Thursday will offer people a chance to voice their opinions on whether Syrian refugees should be allowed to settle in the Bitterroot Valley.
Commissioner Jeff Burrows said he expects the meeting to be “pretty heated and pretty polarized.” It will begin at 1:30 p.m.
The commission has released a proposed letter to the U.S. State Department that expresses opposition to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Ravalli County or its neighboring counties.
The letter expresses safety concerns due to the federal government’s inability to fully investigate potential Syrian refugees to ensure they don’t belong to a terrorist organization.
“The Board of Ravalli County Commissioners opposes the resettling of refugees without an analysis of the impacts and a vetting process that can adequately identify threats to our local communities, state and nation,” according to the letter.
That Ravalli County Commissioners have taken this position is surprising to no one. Similarly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that supporters of bringing Syrian refugees to Missoula would like to depict anyone who opposes their efforts as bedwetting bigots.
Commissioners say the majority of emails they have received have been against accepting refugees. Here is a typical response:
In an email, Rick Paris of Florence called the idea “sickening,” saying he learned all he needed to know about Muslims on 9/11.
“They don’t want to be here, they are terrorists, and they support terrorism and honor killing and what about there (sic) treatment of woman?” the New York City native wrote. “Wake the hell up, no Moslems (sic)!”
Depicting Muslims as terrorists is not the sole prerogative of bedwetting bigots. The Democrat running for Senate District 40 in Helena, Josh Manning, has a post up at Cowgirl where he tries to get inside the minds of terrorist. Here is an example of the shallow treatment Manning uses to explain to the mooing partisans why suicide bombers blow themselves up. This part of the post is a reflection after a suicide bomber blew himself up:
Later the photos arrived from the scene: the engine block in one piece after having been thrown hundreds of feet, the blackened shell of the sedan, and the head of a man found near the explosion, cut off from the neck but otherwise undamaged. For the purposes here, we will just say he was not from Iraq. I wondered how he arrived here, what his parents would do when (or if) they heard about his ultimate fate, and what road he had taken to get to our little base outside Baqubah, Iraq. I envisioned this small child in a small village who somehow had grown into an adult who would find it totally sane to blow himself up thousands of miles away and outside an American base in a land so far from his home. What happens to make you do something like that?
These were questions we and so many others who replaced us year after year would ask as Iraq went from what was then a slow violent boil in the summer of 2004 to the bloody carnage arriving with a vengeance the next years. We could see the darkening skies on the horizon back then, when we saw that foreign face and knew there were many more like him beyond those high blast walls.
I spent a lot of that deployment reading books that probably put me on a watchlist, but my job was to learn the ways of the enemy. In the following years, as suicide bombings became the norm, we learned more and more about how the indoctrination and propaganda of terrorist groups had created this effective means of killing massive numbers of people. While we aimed for the “hearts and minds” of thousands, the other side only needed ten or so people a month to carry out these attacks with truly devastating and splintering results.
Josh Manning isn’t really trying to understand what happens to make a terrorist Muslim blow himself (or herself) up. He talks about “that foreign face”, propaganda and winning hearts and minds, but nothing is said about the fact Manning was a part of an occupying military force killing Iraqis because American propaganda peddled lies about weapons of mass destruction.
The point of Manning’s piece is to compare the Patriot movement’s consumption of dangerous propaganda to what he claims is the driving force behind Muslims blowing themselves up. The point of the bedwetting post similarly seeks to paint with broad strokes anyone who expresses concern about bringing over traumatized refugees as bigots.
Going back to the Missoulian article, a licensed social worker from Corvallis also sent an email to Commissioners. Before I saw her comment, I assumed it would be supportive of the effort. I was wrong:
Brenda Olmsted is a licensed clinical social worker from Corvallis. She said she watched the community of Fargo, North Dakota, struggle greatly after allowing refugees to settle there.
“The already taxed health care system, schools, mental health system and criminal justice system was taxed and stretched even more,” Olmsted wrote. “Crime increased as did domestic violence due to the lack of cultural understanding. I love Ravalli County. I would hate to see us make the same mistake.”
Social workers know how fucked up our support systems already are for people already here. This isn’t coming from a bedwetting bigot’s perspective, and the name-callers might want to consider that not everyone who disagrees with them is a bigot.
But there are indeed plenty of bigots in Montana, which leads me to this question: is Montana a safe place for Syrian refugees? If they are relocated to Missoula County, would it even be safe from them to travel outside the County?
Muslims and American Patriots are not the only people susceptible to propaganda. The only reason we are even having this debate about Syrian refugees is because some Missoula moms saw that picture of the dead toddler and felt like they had to do something. Before that picture captured the hearts and minds of these moms, there was another picture of Syrian boy lost in the desert. Except that wasn’t true:
A picture is not always as it seems.
On Sunday, CNN International anchor Hala Gorani tweeted a photo of a Syrian boy crossing the desert to Jordan. The striking image of the 4-year-old was widely shared around the Web. But it wasn’t long before details of the photo became jumbled, leading many to mistakenly assume the boy was wandering the desert or fleeing Syria alone.
Democrats aren’t immune to propaganda. Maybe they should think about that before comparing Americans with suicide bombers and calling those who are concerned about Syrian refugees bedwetting bigots.