aNewDomain commentary — The mental puzzle presented on Twitter goes something like this: I’ve got a bowl of 10,000 M&Ms. Ten of them are poisoned.
Now which of you bleeding heart liberals is going to grab a handful?
This is referring of course, to our ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.
Sophistry is an argument that seems clever but is in fact the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard. Er, I mean, but that contains logical fallacies. In this case, we have a number of fallacious arguments crammed into one space. For example, referring to humans as poison. Suggesting that we have no way at all to screen people. Suggesting that our own individual chance of death is high. As I’ve explained, you have a better chance of being eaten by a shark than shot by a terrorist.
And then there’s the bogus ad hominem attack: You must be wrong because I called you a name. Illogical.
But yeah, a one in 1,000 chance of ingesting poison? Poisonings are generally treatable, mate, and the cost of not doing this is leaving 10,000 people nationless, homeless and under the influence of less liberal countries. In other words, we have a self-interest here (making friends out of potential enemies) as well as a moral interest: people are not M&Ms that we really have the moral option of taking or leaving.
Candy never starved to death in the bowl.
There’s a more insidious argument here, between the lines, and it’s this: We’re better than them. So let’s go back into the data, shall we?
First, we already have over 30,000 deaths annually that involve firearms (33636 in 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm). That’s more than 92 people a day. 129 people died in the Paris attacks. We kill that many Americans all on our own every 36 hours, over and over again. Imagine our own mass shooters got organized and did all their killing on one day. Far, far more dangerous than any half-starved Syrians dragging children out of a starving country.
And that’s just the guns.
We also have bombings, stabbings, vehicular homicide, intentional poisonings (almost never with M&Ms), bludgeonings, oh, a thousand other ways of murdering one another.
So, we’re already armed and very, very dangerous. We’re so armed and dangerous that we put our own individual right to carry firearms over any sort of common-sense precautions, resulting in people wandering around Target with AR-15s hanging off their shoulders, wondering why people look at them askance.
But we’ve always been very dangerous.
Look, if the Middle East is a shithole right now, we are in no small way responsible for that. Western imperialism extracted the wealth, imposed governments, carved up the territory, drew national borders where they had never existed before. America is hated internationally for some good damn reasons. We’re the only country, for example, ever to use nuclear weapons on another country. 129,000 people died in our attacks on Japan, civilians, women, children.
The whole country is built on racism, slavery and genocide. A whole native population has been reduced to a few clusters of people in often awful conditions, persecuted by police and subject to constant racism. The plight of American blacks that Malcolm X took to the international community still awaits our national attention, with people of color now incarcerated at extreme rates, stripped of their voting rights, exposed to high levels of violence, poverty and persecution.
This is the country that invaded Mexico, stealing much of the landmass of North America from previously established nations.
Look, all our hands are dirty. We’re the Salem Witch Trial people, the Tuskegee syphilis trial people, the race war people. We’re the folks who let the big banks and the bankers get away with tanking our whole economy, who deny climate change – putting us all at risk and maybe creating the whole refugee crisis to begin with.
So, a few Syrians bother you?
Frank Herbert said this. “It’s axiomatic: you can’t escape the violence of your ancestors.”
And more than one psychologist has suggested that when we fear a person, it is because they have the traits we most hate in ourselves. You’re afraid of a few people who might be Muslims who come from a place where people who claim to be Muslims are shooting each other. But you yourself would shoot anyone who came in your house, valuing your stereo or your TV over their life.
Get it together, people.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.
Syria2: (I made this)
Syria3: (By User:Mitchumch [Public domain, Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Syria4: (“BuffaloEstate” by United States Congress – United States Congressional serial set: U.S. Serial Set, Number 4015, 56th Congress, 1st Session Pages 666 and 667. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BuffaloEstate.png#/media/File:BuffaloEstate.png)