Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend an event where a recent OU Fulbright Scholar shared his experiences. Taylor McKenzie spoke of his research in Germany, where he set out intending to study squatters and ended up talking about refugees.
Most of his little speech was describing the history of the refugee crisis in Germany. He also explained some of the laws put in place by the EU and by Germany itself in dealing with this crisis. Some of these descriptions were very interesting to me, especially the public square Oranienplatz which has become Germany’s symbol of protest marches for this cause.
What most intrigued me, however, was a short quote. “The idea that everyone wants to be in Europe is a Western fallacy. Most people just want to go back home. They just can’t.”
I’m Facebook friends with many people of varying opinions, and I follow political pages from very different viewpoints. And yet most everything I see about the Syrian refugee crisis is negative. “Send those ***** back where they came from!” “We don’t want them!” “They’re too dangerous!” This saddens me.
Imagine: Growing up in a small town, or maybe a bigger town, life was fairly normal as a child. You had friends. You had people you didn’t like, as well. Things were pretty good. You were safe. Then suddenly, as you get older, things become more heated. People begin hating you for things that don’t matter, such as which church you go to or what color of shirt you wore that day. And then it moves beyond hatred. It becomes irrational fury, such that you begin to fear for your life. So you leave. You don’t want to leave your little home town. But if you want to survive, if you want to protect your family, you do so; by any means necessary.
This is not the first time in American history that we have had the chance to take in refugees. We could have taken in hundreds of thousands of Jewish children in World War II. And yet everyone thought it was too dangerous.
Maybe this can be the first time we get it right.