Standing with Syrians

By Rebecca Duras

Terrorists are attacking America and they are winning. There’s a certain image people think of when they read “terrorist.” However, I was not thinking of Osama Bin Laden or ISIS, although they are certainly terrorists. I was thinking of people like Mr.Donald Trump. Obviously, Donald Trump is not quite as evil as ISIS. He has not personally murdered anyone (that I know of). However, the hateful, prejudiced rhetoric he and others like him spew is calculated to inspire xenophobia. Those that vehemently oppose migration (and let’s call them what they really are: racists) may not personally pick up guns and kill people, but they incite others to do so. It has been less than a year since the Chapel Hill shooting, but anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment has only grown since then and no attempts have been made to curb this domestic terrorism. Although the two kinds of terrorists I mentioned claim to oppose each other, they have a common goal: to incite terror and hatred into the global population until we are all afraid of our neighbors because they are a different color than us or follow a different religion than we do. Given recent anti-refugee sentiment that is sweeping America, it is clear that the terrorists are winning. By refusing to admit helpless children and other people that have been brutalized by a civil war into our country, we are showing that the terrorists have won. Despite our bluster and our military might, we are scared. We have been frightened into abandoning the lofty principles of equality and opportunity America claims to have been built on. By virtue of its status as a liberal arts school, Middlebury is a natural enemy of terrorists. Here, we prefer the pursuit of knowledge to ignorance, acceptance to fear and a global outlook to close mindedness. Accepting Syrian refugees into our community would not only provide students whose opportunity to learn has been brutally taken away with a place to continue their studies. It would send a strong message to terrorists of all kinds: you are wrong. You are weak. We refuse to be cowed by your clumsy demonstrations of violence into abandoning our principles. If we have the power to send that message, we should. There is also a more selfish reason to bring Syrian refugees to Middlebury. In order to promote the diverse learning community promised by the mission statement, the voices of Syrian refugees would provide a welcome addition to our discussions. It is easy to feel stuck in the college bubble and disconnected from current events because we are privileged in that they do not directly affect our lives. Our discussions come from privilege, and the inclusion of refugee students would provide a welcome new perspective. Here at Middlebury, we truly believe that education with an international perspective is vital to survive in the 21st century and that we can learn from each other, especially when we come from different backgrounds. Now we just have to act on it.

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