UNITED STATES—Nearly 2 weeks ago, the world was rocked to its core when Paris, France was attacked by terrorists. The news broke late at night for many Americans, but the ramifications are still being felt. Close to 150 people were killed by suicide bombers and terrorists who decided to unleash gunfire at cafes and a concert that was packed with people. What is even more frightening is the news that one of the suicide bombers was this close to gaining entry into the soccer game that was taking place. I can’t even imagine the horror that the survivors and the families of the victims are feeling at this moment.
However, I want to address an issue that is quite importance: tolerance. We live in a world where we talk about how vital and critical it is that we teach our children the importance of tolerance of other races and cultures. Right now, many of us are not behaving tolerant, we’re reacting out of fear and we have every right to do so, but does that make it right.
The terrorist attacks on America in 2001 forever changed the scope of the country. The ability to just go into an airport and get on a plane no longer exists. The security screenings and the checkpoints are so much more heightened that it is beyond scary to say the least. The culpability that was place on the country Iraq and others in Middle Eastern Europe has forever been changed. All Muslims are now being depicted as the enemy or suspicious and that is not right. We cannot continue to stereotype an entire culture or race because of the bad actions of others.
For years we’ve equated stereotypes about African-Americans, Caucasians, Italians, Hispanics, Chinese, Japanese and a host of others to be real because we want them to be real. Or it’s what we see depicted time and time again in movies, on television and in the news. Now the debacle is unfolding regarding tons of Syrian refugees who are hoping to flee the country which is in a warzone for sanctuary in the United States. While President Obama understands the importance of helping these people who are in desperate need, many politicians and members in Congress are not in agreement.
Governors around the country are halting Syrian refugees from entering the country with the belief that because of the events in Paris, that the same thing can happen here overseas. Yes, it is a strong possibility that that can happen, but should we label every single Muslim and Syrian as being a member of the terrorist group ISIS? No. Not every single one is a terrorist, but as Americans we should ensure extra tight security measures are put into place to prevent such an incident from even being possible on our soil, but to just label all Syrian refugees as terrorists is completely irresponsible. I mean what type of message are we sending to our children?
Yes, ISIS, members of that group are all terrorists; they are sick, they are dangerous, they should be eliminated. Labeling everyone who ‘looks’ a particular way or speaks a particular way is absurd. This is how we continue hate and racism in this country. Have we not learned anything from slavery, the Nazi concentration camps, and a list of other horrific events that have transpired in this country at the hands of people in leadership roles?
I’m almost certain I’m going to receive plenty of backlash from my column this week sharing my thoughts on an issue that has become a hot button topic. However, I cannot sit back while we just point the finger and say because you’re from Syria you intend to blow up buildings and kill innocent people. Time and time again an entire race or culture pays the price for the actions of a select few. When are we going to start acknowledging the fact that stereotypes are indeed bad? Once you start a stereotype its takes on a power of its own.