In a degrading act of gross oversimplification, the anti-refugee crowd has deemed it necessary to compare starving men, women and children in search of a better life to grapes and M&M’s.
Since the attacks in Paris last Friday, the anti-refugee sentiment has reached a fever pitch. When news came out that one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks may have been a Syrian refugee, many Americans -including all of the republican presidential candidates and many republican governors- decided that they are now whole-heartedly against accepting any refugees. And this concern over national security is a valid one, that, as Americans, we are all entitled to have and hold – but so much of the rhetoric around this issue is wildly tone deaf and increasingly vile.
These refugees are people. They are people that have been are fleeing a war torn region in an attempt to find something better. Most of these people have been terrorized by the same violence that ripped through Paris on Friday – the only difference is they have been living within the violence for years. The act of “standing with” and “praying” for Paris and then conversely dismissing the plight of the Syrian immigrants, and boiling down this issue to memes about M&M’s and grapes is obscenely hypocritical and xenophobic. Memes like the one below -that are running rampant on Facebook- along with sentiments that state, “I’ve got a bowl of 10,000 M&M’s, 10 are poisoned. How many of you bleeding heart liberals are gonna grab a handful?” are not only a substantial over-simplification of a complex and multifaceted crisis, but they’re flat-out dehumanizing and tremendously coarse.
Please think and read before sharing sentiments like these. If the United States was torn apart by violence and civil war, and you and your family were forced to flee your home to ensure your safety, how would you feel to see people around the world lumping you in with the very same murderous group that you are fleeing from? As the Washington Post pointed out, much of this rhetoric bares a striking resemblance to the reaction of many intolerant Americans, when Jewish refugees were fleeing Germany and Austria during WWII. Let’s try to be on the right side of history here. Let’s show a little tact and insight; let’s read about this issue from multiple sources, and use -at the very least- a moderate level of discernment. There is a measured and rational conversation to be had here, but nobody seems to be having it. If, after doing the appropriate amount of unbiased research, you still find yourself believing that accepting refugees is too big of a risk, you are free to have that opinion, but still, do not marginalize the struggle of the Syrian people – show a little compassion and empathy. They are people. They are mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, they are not M&M’s.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the Editor-in-chief of The Overgrown.