Proving once again that the U.S. has become a nation of sniveling cowards, at last count the governors of twenty-five states, Michigan among them, had announced that those states are now closed to refugees fleeing the bloodshed in Syria. The fact that their announcements are totally meaningless -- it's the federal government that gets to decide whether or not immigrants are allowed to enter this country -- is irrelevant. The governors are more than happy to play to the most paranoid, xenophobic fears of what they perceive to be the public mood.
I knew that was going to be the American response. It's the way we respond to just about every crisis: let's all huddle in a corner figuratively pissing our collective pants because there's a remote possibility something bad could happen somewhere. After all, if we can't have 100% perfect safety, we're not coming out from under the bed. As a society we like to talk a lot about how wonderful Americans are, but when it comes down to reality? Not so great. We're a bunch of sniveling selfish cowards. We're also real good at turning our backs on the rest of the world no matter what the circumstances. Don't believe me? Read some history.
One of the memes kicking around on Facebook for the past couple days is a graphic illustrating how the American populace felt about admitting Jewish refugees when Hitler began persecuting Jews in the 1930s. Polls showed that an overwhelming majority didn't even want to allow children in. The U.S. refused to allow passenger liners loaded with refugees to land -- apparently even a mere thousand refugees were too many for Americans to deal with. But we don't need to go 80 years to find Americans acting like selfish assholes.
Don't believe me? Go back and take a look at how most people felt about admitting Vietnamese and Hmong refugees after they fled the Communists in the 1970s. Or how we're treating Iraqis and Afghans who worked with the American military and are now being targeted by terrorists in what's left of their countries. The U.S. supposedly has a policy of prioritizing asylum applications from foreign civilians who worked as translators or in other positions, but if you look at the vetting process, it can take many years for the paperwork to wend its way through the system and even then we reject quite a few. If you do a little Googling, you can find numerous heart-breaking stories of Afghani or Iraqi civilians who risked their lives to help American troops, men and women who spent months or years working side-by-side with the U.S. forces, who were promised that if they wanted to come to the U.S. they'd be allowed in with no hassles, and who now are stuck waiting for years for some paper shuffler in Washington to decide their fates.
In short, despite our chauvinistic beliefs that Americans are inherently nice charitable people, the reality is we're hypocrites. We're narrow minded, selfish asshats who are remarkably adept at pretending we're not. We don't even want poor people moving into the same neighborhood as us -- look at the public reaction any time someone suggests incorporating "affordable housing" into a development -- so for sure it's no surprise we don't want any foreigners around. Even if the Paris attacks hadn't happened, we'd still be telling Syrians to stay away.