Syrian Refugee Research Assignment
~Syrian Refugees Argument~
Many of us are aware of the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris and the speculations that surround them. ISIS claims they were behind it, and since then have made subsequent threats to bomb other countries and major cities. Currently, there is a Civil war going on in Syria and the citizens need our help. Shortly, after the Paris attacks, Obama announced a motion to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in the coming year. This seemingly selfless act has created tension and unrest among many. Conservatives and Republicans do not want Syrian refugees entering this country, no matter what. They feel it will tank our economy, create population issues, and invite terrorists right into the very places they claim to be targeting.
On the other hand, many liberalists feel that letting these refugees in for safety, is our duty as the United States of America. They argue that we have let in far more immigrants in the past and that this is being done with the best intentions. In the face of conflict and war, they believe as a nation we should stand united and pledge ourselves to help those in need. Syrian Refugees should be allowed into this country because firstly, it’s our humanitarian duty to help those in need. Secondly, terrorism is an issue within our home just as much as abroad, and thirdly we should let them in because the United States was built as a place of refuge, changing it now will only weaken our image towards the rest of the world.
II. Background Information: (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868)
Syria is in the midst of a civil war that is becoming even more violent through continued terrorist attacks and mass killings. The data from June 2013 (BBC.org) shows that 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. This statistic was taken two years ago, the numbers now are much higher, with an estimated 250,000 people dead. What’s interesting about the numbers above is that the United States wishes to take in a quarter amount of refugees at a mere 10,000 throughout the course of the year. That kind of number is insignificant compared to how many have already lost their lives in their home country. Yet, U.S citizens and prominent political adversaries are refusing to allow Syrian Refugees into their states. This is causing an anti-Muslimism unrest which is throwing our nation into unnecessary turmoil. Since the start of the conflict, an estimated eleven million people have fled Syria, most of them being women and children. Neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey have taken the brunt of this migration. They are running out of ways to accommodate the new arrivals, which come in staggering amounts. They are in need of help, our help, and it is time to do something.
- Stance 1.
Syrian Refugees should be allowed into the United States because it is our Humanitarian Responsibility. The argument is as follows,
P1: A Humanitarian Duty means that when people die, something needs to be done to save them.
P2: Syrians are dying and in need of a safe place.
C: The U.S has a humanitarian responsibility to save some of these people in need.
No one can place a price on a life, and while allowing refugees into this country will create a lot of changes, it will also bring about a future for children and even adults who would not have had a chance had they not been allowed entry. Many people might argue that this does not matter, and who cares about being humanitarian, but in the end, it matters more than we think in terms of U.S safety. (Niskanen Center)
For example, say the United States does not allow the Syrians into this country. We ignore their pleas for help and watch as thousands more perish. Then, twenty or thirty years down the road the U.S breaks out into a civil war. People are dying, women and children are being raped, murdered, forced to become soldiers. If we were ever in need of immediate refuge, we would want the world to take us in as well. If we deny Syrian refugees entry we run the risk of destroying some of our necessary allies. After all, we were the ones who turned our backs once before. You get, what you give and if this country isn’t careful, it could find itself needing help with no one willing to lend a hand. So, you may not want to help these Syrians for a multitude of reasons. However, consider doing it for you, for this country, so that in case something horrific does happen down the line, we will have other nations willing to help us stay safe. The humanitarian argument of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes may seem weak at first glance, but once it’s really thought about, it has the power to change an entire perspective. This argument form can be placed into the Induction by confirmation, If P, then Q. Q. Thus, probably P.
P1. The rest of the world will most likely leave the U.S high and dry if we don’t offer help to Syrians now.
P2. We don’t offer assistance to Syrian refugees in 2015
C. The rest of the world probably won’t offer the U.S assistance, should there be a need.
Interestingly enough, there is an unspoken courtesy called the Pottery Barn Rule, which was invoked by Secretary of State, Colin Powell just before the U.S invasion of Iraq. (reason.com) The rule states, you break it, you own it. Now, years later the payback is coming, in the form of thousands of Syrian refugees. The argument could be seen as follows.
P1. The Pottery Barn Rule states: you break it, you buy it.
P2. The U.S had a direct hand in stirring the conflict in Syria, through previous engagement.
C. Therefore, we broke Syria and must pay them back by allowing Syrian Refugees into the country.
In the past this rule, was unanimously enforced, take Vietnam for instance. After the war, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese left the country for America and given the U.S’s role in the conflict they were quick to accept the newcomers as their own. It was their obligation and duty. Conservatives believed it was out duty because if we did not let them in, then the communists would truly win the war. Liberals believed we needed to step up and help the lives of the people we had damaged. So, in 1975, 125,000, which eventually grew to 750,000, Vietnamese refugees were admitted to the U.S. We have also taken in almost 1 million Cubans, with 125,000 in 1980 alone. In 1988 more than 300,000 Soviet-Jews came to America. Now, most Americans cannot recall these influxes, because they never created any unrest. The transition was seamless, the best part being the countless lives which were spared. (Reasons.com)
Today, there is no need to place blame, but we do know that the United States’ invasion of Iraq created a conflict that spread into Syria, and when our troops were pulled out of Iraq, the Syrian dictator, Bashar-al-Assad was given free rein to do his worst. Syrians are fleeing at alarming rates, Turkey has opened its doors to 1.9 million people, Germany is planning to take 800,000 by the end of the year, and Sweden has admitted close to 65,000. All of these numbers are far greater than the proposal that the White House made. It’s time the U.S does their part. Save a life, because if we work together through this hatred and terror there might be a way to achieve peace. Those against this may see the argument as Tu Quo Que, but in the interest of possibly saving our own people down the line, it’s become extremely relevant.
- Stance 2.
Heightened terrorism is a huge reason why so many people are hesitant to allow Syrians into this country. However, many are missing the point that as a nation we are fighting our own war on terror right here at home. (The Jewish Journal) This argument structure is the following:
P1. Syrians are not being allowed into the United States because many fear they are foreign terrorists coming to destroy this country.
P2. Not all Syrians are terrorists, and we already have terrorists from our own country.
C. Therefore, fear of terrorism should not be the leading factor in why these refugees are not allowed to safety.
- The Argument above is in the Modus Tollens form of, If P, then Q. Not Q, Thus, Not P. This principle alone, makes it a valid argument independent of content.
Domestic terrorism in the United States is far more prevalent than many realize. Instead, of worrying about foreigners coming in and bombing us, we should seriously be concerning ourselves with the evil evident in our own country. Terrorist organizations such as Ayran Nations and Ku Klux Klan were homegrown. Bombings and school shootings like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Charleston, South Carolina Church shooting, and most recently California shooting at San Bernardino have been increasing in multitude and violence. Police brutality against African Americans has also become a prevalent issue in the U.S. The riots that took place in Ferguson, Missouri are considered acts of domestic terrorism. All of this violence may not look significant at first glance, but it’s growing and it comes from the ones who have lived in this country for generations. As of today, there have been 355 Mass Murders in the United States in the year 2015, that’s almost one each day (Slate). Another important thought to consider is that many migrants leave their country to escape violence and extremism, not to bring it with them. So perhaps, we are looking for any excuse, not to allow these people into our country, because using a fear of terrorism has honestly become invalid. It is happening everywhere all of the time, and believe it or not, if a terrorist plans to bomb the United States, they will most likely achieve that goal, no matter how many refugees we allow in.
- Stance 3
My next stance on the argument to allow Syrian Refugees into the country stems from our nation’s birthright. We were built on the premise of being a place of refuge, a better future, where everyone can be free from hatred, and prejudices. How can we turn our backs now, and say we will not allow those in search of safety to enter our home? This makes the U.S hypocritical because of all the instances in the past in which immigrants fled their own countries and came to ours. The Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution, the Irish came here to save themselves from the Potato Famine, and countless other European countries had immigrants coming here for economic reasons. Death and war which is akin to famine should be as good a reason as any to allow a relatively small amount of Syrian Refugees into our country.
The argument set-up is as follows:
P1. The United States was settled by a melting pot of cultures and people. In the past when conflict arose many came here to seek shelter. If we don’t allow Syrian refugees in, we are going against who we are as a country, fair and equal opportunity to all.
P2. If we go against our motto, this places a bad image on the U.S in the eyes of the rest of the world.
C. In order to maintain our image, and appear as an ally to others in need, we must allow Syrian Refugees to enter the country.
Again those opposed might say this is an ad hominem fallacy because we are attacking the character of the United States. However, in world politics, the image that a nation brings forth is nearly essential to its success, and reputation. At the end of the day integrity, is all that we possess. If the U.S plans to keep that said integrity, then helping these Syrians is the answer. If we don’t do this, then we become at risk to be targeted by other countries, possibly making us very unsafe, and leading to larger problems.
- Addressing the opposing side
After doing extensive research, I realized that there are more people who are against letting Syrians into the country than for it. However, this does not mean that the arguments against the cause are right or that they are the better decision. Any argument will have to address positions in opposition, doing so can actually make the argument stronger.
The first argument stated by the opposing side deals with security. They believe that the refugees pose a risk to our society, which justifies rejecting them. This argument is actually really compelling when no background research is done. Syrians are coming from a place where the terrorist group ISIS is prominent, who’s to say that by allowing these people in here, we aren’t allowing terrorists in as well? The security argument has the following setup.
P1. Terrorists pose a serious threat to the United States of America
P2. Some Syrian refugees could pose as terrorists and enter the U.S
C. We should not allow any Syrian Refugees to enter the U.S
This appears to be very plausible until further deciphered. This argument is actually committing the common cause fallacy. It’s equating terrorist attacks led by foreigners with the foreignness of Syrian Refugees, thus saying that allowing Syrian refugees into a country will cause terrorist attacks. The foreign aspect is the common cause, but it does not mean there will be terrorism from these foreigners within the U.S. Since 9/11 the United States has actually taken in about 745,000 refugees from around the world. Interestingly enough, not a single one of these refugees have been arrested on domestic terrorism charges. From this, we can conclude that refugees are less likely to engage in domestic terrorism than typical American citizens. Another important fact to add is that these refugees are vetted hard by both the federal government, and the UN. The thorough process takes about 18-24 months to be complete. The research done shows that the many popular intuitions are incorrect, and the relationship between refugees and terrorism, is the opposite of what most assume it to be (Jewish Journal).
Another plausible argument says that we should not accept the Syrian refugees because they are expensive and will compete with Americans for resources that we cannot afford to share. This argument depends upon the belief that immigrants contribute far less than native citizens do to the economy. Again, if research is not undertaken this seems like a pretty good reason to keep them out.
P1. Syrian refugees will further deplete dwindling resources, such as jobs, and government aid.
P2. If we allow them in then Americans will suffer. We must protect our fellow citizens first.
C. We should not allow Syrian refugees into our country.
This argument is reliant upon the appeal to ignorance fallacy. People are assuming that the refugees coming in will not contribute to the U.S economy, which is fact not true. According to statistics, foreign-born residents contribute an estimated $19,000 more in tax receipts each decade than they consume in government benefits. This means that refugees and immigrants more than pay their way in this country. If crowded schools become an issue to worry about, then it is clear that foreigners can contribute enough revenue to create more classrooms and hire more teachers. All is not hopeless. People will try to further back up this argument, claiming that while long-term investments may be beneficial, the short-term startup cost is not something we can spare. This again is untrue because the government has a larger budget than anyone cares to admit. The U.S government’s budget for 2015 is $3.688 trillion. The cost for taking in Syrian refugees in 2015 is about $40 million. In other words, it’s doable. No one is saying that changes will not occur, and it will take adjusting, but losing out on resources is not as big a deal as people make it out to sound.
Lastly, is my favorite argument against taking in 10,000 refugees. I call it the bigot argument. Many people are actually claiming that we should allow Syrian refugees in…as long as they are Christians. In other words, any Muslim refugees must be turned away. There is a separation of church and state, which should not allow this to happen. We cannot discriminate against people because of their religious beliefs, which does not define beyond a reasonable doubt what their character is like. Yes, there are unintelligent people out there claiming that all Syrians are Muslim, and all Muslims are radicals and terrorists. Let’s look at the setup:
P1: 74% of Syrians are of the Muslim Religion
P2: Many Terrorists are of the Muslim faith
C: Thus, there is a 74% probability that Syrians are terrorists.
This argument commits a couple of fallacies. First by confusing cause and effect. It’s assuming that the cause of terrorism is Islamic religions, which is false. There are many other terrorists that come from different religions, just because one radical portion of Islamic religions commit acts of terrorism, it doesn’t mean that the entire population of Muslim religions commits acts of terror. Many other factors lead to terrorism as well. The argument also commits the ad hominem fallacy, attacking the character of Syrians by assuming that all Muslim-oriented Syrians are to be found guilty of crimes that they probably will never ever commit. Personal character and values should outweigh religious beliefs or other factors such as being male and at prime fighting age. It’s not what you are, but who you are. Finally, the argument is using Inductive Generalization to complete the argument. The argument appears strong because the number 74 is rather high. However, there is no relation between 74% of the Syrian population being Muslim and a 74% chance that they are terrorists. One bad egg doesn’t mean that all of the eggs in the bunch are bad. This is equivalent to other countries claiming that citizens of America cannot be trusted because we are all probably gun crazed psychopaths, willing to commit a mass shooting for the smallest reasons, such as losing a job or not agreeing with something.
The fact is that the issues surrounding Syrian refugees are occurring here and now. Our country is divided about what needs to be done. The larger context is that we as the United States of America have a moral duty to help these people in need. We preach to the world that we do whatever it takes to keep others safe because we care about the prosperity of everyone. Let’s fill those big shoes that we claim to have and give these people the chance they deserve.
After seeing all of the different sides to one argument I found that when logically dissecting arguments opposed to allowing Syrians into the country I could always find a reason to change my opinion. Either the information isn’t true, or the true research isn’t presented. Either way, you can find information that will make you see the other side of the argument as probably being the better choice.
Whereas, when you look at the arguments for allowing Syrians into the country you can’t really say they are wrong because a lot of the arguments are matters of morality and ethics. These are things that you can’t necessarily run and hide from. Questions of morality are not black and white which is why the arguments almost guilt you into accepting them if you look at all of the evidence. If we do not let Syrian refugees into the U.S we are running the risk of becoming a target for other nations, when conflict arises. No one is necessarily forcing people to believe either side of this argument, but as American citizens, you should be informed about the pros and cons of both so that you have enough information to agree with one side, while also understanding the points made by the other. If everyone did this then a decision on what needs to be done would be easily achieved and without so much controversy. The smart thing to do is to think before you speak, gather all of the research you can before jumping into something entirely with emotion.
Bier, David. “Six reasons to welcome Syrian refugees after Paris” Blog post on Niskanen Center. 16, Nov. 2015. Web. Dec. 1, 2015. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/six-reasons-to-welcome-syrian-refugees-after-paris/
Chapman, Steve. “This is why America should take more Syrian refugees” Reason.com free minds and free markets. 14, Sept. 2015. Web. Dec. 1, 2015. <https://reason.com/archives/2015/09/14/america-should-take-more-syrian-refugees>
Duss, Matthew. “My Family’s Refugee Story” Political Piece in Slate. 18, Nov. 2015. Web. Nov. 30, 2015. <http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/11/syrian_refugees_in_america_the_argument_is_personal_for_my_family.html>
Kugel, Sheila. “Best arguments for and against taking in Syrian refugees” Opinion piece, The Jewish Journal. 24, Nov. 2015. Web. Nov. 30, 2015. <http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/best_arguments_for_and_against_taking_in_syrian_refugees>