Syrian Refugees

One of the political footballs right now is the question of what to do with Syrian Refugees. Some people say we should absolutely not allow them into the United States. Others say that attitude is Islamophobic and Americans should always embrace immigration. The one side points out that some of the terrorists in Paris had come in as Syrian refugees, and possibly the same thing would happen here. The other side believes our vetting process will catch any possible trouble makers.

Both sides of this discussion have invoked a rhetoric of extremes. For example, many have questioned why we would spend resources on these individuals while we have so many problems of our own that are inadequately addressed. One such example has been the cry to not house a single Syrian refugee until every homeless veteran has been sheltered. Although this is an apples to oranges comparison it is a set of priorities I would agree with. Still the reality of government is they do not have the luxury of working on one thing at a time, finishing up higher priorities before working on lower priorities would never work. Government inherently attacks some problems that will never be completely solved.

Those in favor of bringing in refugees also have their rhetoric of extremes. The worst of these, at least in my mind, was hearing Hillary Clinton say “Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.” I couldn’t believe she said those words. History argues strongly against her on that point, as does the Koran.

But that is what happens in politics today. No one listens to reasonable discussion, yet they care deeply about the topics so they resort to shouts, extreme statements, and Facebook memes. This lack of real investigative reporting, genuine information, and open discussion is what is really destroying America.

It will probably surprise most people who know me that I am in favor of bringing in carefully vetted families of Syrian refugees with young children. Yes, I really would limit it to husbands and wives with young children. Unfortunately, I do not believe either that our government will adequately background check these immigrants or that they will limit it to families as I have described. For these two reasons I would stand opposed, but if we would follow these two limitations then I can see several benefits of taking part.

In no particular order here are my reasons. The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest since World War 2, according to the news. Assuming this is not some of the persuasive misinformation put out by the media, it only makes sense that the world leader, the United States, would lead in alleviating the crisis. Also remember that leaving families in the situation tends to raise up new radicals. Islam is inherently violent towards non-Moslems, and in a place of warfare and oppression young men tend to grow up angry. Finally I note that in the United States these individuals will have the most likelihood of understanding the greater rule of law. I am assuming we will not be so foolish as to grant them pockets of sharia law. When exposed to a better way, most people will recognize it and accept it. In fact, I believe more Moslems than ever before are converting to genuine Christianity. This by itself is a powerful reason to allow the ones who are not already hard core opposed to come here, where they will be in contact with Christians and a society shaped by a culture very different than their homeland.

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A House Divided

Recently there was a debate in which MSNBC made mistakes such as accusing Dr. Ben Carson of business connections that did not exist and suggested other candidates should withdraw or resign. The candidates did what we hope politicians can do, point out the errors and confront them with truth.

A few days later President Obama, branded them as weak. Unable to handle MSNBC moderators.

Not long after that Democratic candidates backed out of a debate which was going to be partially sponsored by Fox News. While the initial reports I saw seemed to indicate this action was over comments made by Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. I notice that many of the news outlets I researched did not connect it to Ailes comments, and the Democrats failed to define exactly what was said that crossed the line. But either way it was noted that Fox news might be biased against Democrats.

What I think is most important to point out is that many of those involved in the process, both politicians and news outlets, are furthering the gap in America.

The obvious result of dividing America will be that we no longer stand united. This point should be of more concern to Americans than demonizing our opponents. Jesus said it, Abraham Lincoln quoted it, and it’s still true, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Unjust Streets

Several weeks back I saw a press conference in one of our embattled cities where the backdrop was a repeated logo that boldly declared “No Justice, No Peace.”

This sight has stayed in my mind, and been refreshed there every time the tension in America has spread to a new city.

I am not sure what the person who wrote the slogan meant by it. Perhaps they were saying that ultimately we will find peace by creating a society that practices justice. In this manner it could have been a call for justice in America.

But on the other side of the coin, it could be taken as a call for violence, lack of peace, in order to force the nation to behave more justly. This was how I took it, and it seemed to be (as much as soundbites can reveal), what the speakers in front of that curtain were asking for.

The problem is that nothing is more unjust than rioting in the streets. Any person or property caught in the path may meet the anger of the crowd. Instead of injustice occurring individually or in isolated incidents, hundreds of people will be caught in the grind of injustice simply because their homes, businesses, or workplaces are in the affected regions.

The people most adversely affected by violence in the streets are the same ones who were offended by whatever initial event sparked the unrest in their area. In this way the violence in the streets becomes a downward spiral, further disenfranchising and socially alienating those they hoped to help.

I am sure that some of these people are hoping to return to actions similar to those of Martin Luther King. In his era, he was the figurehead for a movement that brought about positive change. But please study your history and remember that he did it by advocating non-violence. He didn’t tolerate roaming neighborhoods, burning businesses, or looting. Nor did he advocate attacking police, not even when they were attacked.

Trying to address injustices in America is important, but doing so by spreading injustice is nonsensical.

Government and The Media

When I was a kid in school they made everyone take a class in US Government. We learned about things like balance of powers, federalism, and limited government. These principles are shaped by the constitution, and we were told, keep our government running smoothly.

So what am I, and my entire generation, supposed to think when we see specific people in government arguing against these principles? I hear the news reporting that the argument in favor of the current immigration reform is that the executive branch holds sole power over immigration law; no balance of power, no cooperation with states, and no boundaries. I don’t believe immigration is the only place such actions are taking place.

We have orderly ways to carry out business in our government for very good reasons. It is somewhat natural that a politician who is not reigned in will expand their own powers. In times past, the press, the well-informed populace, and the courts would not tolerate changing the definitions of government written into the constitution.

Today is somehow different. Now we live in the information age. So the traditional media is under pressure from the internet, and therefore has lost power and changed its shape considerably. In the old days shape, acting as a watchdog of freedom, was how a media outlet secured its audience. The new shape does not secure its audience in this manner and therefore the media is not as successful at being a watchdog.

Government is changing, or at least attempting to, and no one is taking notice except for opposing factions of government. The average citizen is ill-informed and disinterested in the new shape of things. The courts, the last line of defense planned in our constitution, seem to be in the midst of their own power grab and might not be quite as helpful as we would like.

If you were looking for the last lines of this blogpost to contain answers then allow me to give two suggestions. First, pray hard. Second, hang on and be ready for a bumpy ride.

I can’t do any better than that because I can’t see what is going on behind the scenes any better than anyone else. (As detailed above.) However I do believe that God is in control of the situation. I am just waiting to see if He is using it to bring revival or judgement.

Presidential Divisiveness

One of the current political questions is, who will run for president in 2016? We are in that awkward stage, where even though we basically know who will run, they are not yet officially committed.

Looking over the field, I notice something horrible. But let me explain some current history from my perspective for clarity sake first. Six years ago we elected a president who promised to bring the country together. We even reelected him two years ago, when he was promising that he would bring the country together as soon as his opponents decided to do everything his way.

For conservative minded people, like myself, this president has created an ever widening chasm between the two viewpoints, namely by refusing to compromise on anything, and then having his buddies in the media, blame the division on his opponents. This tactic has so alienated conservative America, that we now can’t hear the president’s name without bristling. Now we are aiming at another election. I suspect most voters believe an ability to work together should be the first qualification.

Now look at the candidates. Whether we like it or not there are some names in politics that introduce rancor merely by their mention. For the party of Lincoln, we will have our teeth set on edge by anyone named Clinton. For the Democrats a similar reaction is evoked by the name Bush.

So it seems to me that voters should consider, not just the normal priorities, but also whether they really want to elect someone their opponents are already unable to work with. I am quite sure some want to continue the gridlock. Some are so fixated on dominating policy and elections that they only believe they are winning when their opponents are demonized and demoralized. These individuals would be too blind to realize they could win the election, but lose the country.

Marijuana’s Cost

Recently I saw a news report stating that Oreos could be more addictive than cocaine. Even more recently I heard the statement repeated once again that marijuana is not addictive.

Society is in the middle of a craze of legalizing marijuana. This movement was catalyzed by those who painted it as a miracle drug which is unfairly maligned when labeled as an illegal drug. But other strains of thought are also present. Some thought legalizing it would take a useless burden off law enforcement and correctional institutions. Others felt it was simply a freedom issue and these often advocate legalizing all drugs.

Of course, these ideas came along after a couple of generations grew up with prevalent use of marijuana among young people, movies which glorified marijuana, and politicians beginning to admit to marijuana use.

So all told I have been hearing about marijuana use for decades, with increasingly, the voices singing its praises drowning out those of caution. The road that got us here is likely to be less interesting than where we go from here.

America became great as a land of opportunity. Marijuana use demotivates the user. It may become the single largest force working against America regaining its momentum and strength. It might already be.

Culture of Distrusting Government

New York City, like too many places in our country, has seen division created by racial tension. This division has erupted in violence that has destroyed trust, common sense and in the worst cases entire neighborhoods. All this destruction has a real cost on society, but especially on the people and neighborhoods affected.

The destruction stems from people making decisions about events they have no first-hand knowledge of. They assume a suspect was treated a certain way because of racism. Second-hand or third-hand reports of the situation are mixed with basic assumptions about the shape of society to make an explosive mix.

Many of the protestors, bloggers and commentators have painted the police as the villains. I believe the majority of law enforcement officers are honest, fair people attempting to do an extremely difficult job well. I don’t doubt that some will make horrible mistakes. Painting an entire group by the actions of a few is exactly what we are all against. Failing to see the police as people worthy of respect and assuming them to be villains has resulted in many needless confrontations and at least two deaths.

In a sense it all comes down to which group a person chooses to make negative assumptions about. And if you look at it that way, the central point becomes why do we make the assumptions we do about any group? I believe the way news is presented is a part of it. I believe history is a part of it, too. Unfortunately, I also believe, in recent times, presidential politics is a part of it. The president has waded into a number of situations in such a way as to exasperate the situation. It is sad when the highest elected official in the land contributes to the cultural distrust of government.