The refugee crisis exists because America has indulged foolish foreign policies. To get out of this mess will require wisdom, not more of the same.
I was neither born nor bred in this country. I don’t have Ivy League credentials. Unlike elitists and pundits informed as much by cocktail parties as they are by polls and studies, I’m informed by blood, kin, and culture.
I was born in Baghdad to Christian parents who emigrated the old-fashioned way—legally—and for an old-fashioned reason: The treatment of Christians, like my family, by Muslims in the surrounding culture.
I cry at the “Star Spangled Banner,” and I cry when my naturalized home wages war against my birth home. I am an American. I am also Iraqi, and a Moslawii down to my dialect and my cooking. Such is the existential reality of first-generation immigrants: The “both/and” tension of two civilizations within one self, the wistful desire for one identity, one culture, one homeland, one whole and integral worldview. I hope, at the seasoned age of 46, I have wisdom to share with you, my beloved Americans.
This would be a good time to stop talking about immigrants as if we are children. That’s my first suggestion. American politicians, professors, and pundits who have never lived under a dictator in their life, were raised within a Western heritage and education system, and learned foreign policy and political philosophy ideas in the West pontificate about what is best in the Middle East and for middle easterners.
Fine, listen to your experts if you must, but maybe this is the time to include us in the conversation. We have opinions and knowledge. These are our countries, whose names you mispronounce, whose culture you disregard, whose history you remake, and whose future you would fashion in your image and likeness.
Bad Foreign Policy Has Caused the Refugee Crisis
I had not been in America for a complete year the day Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s “Dictators & Double Standards” was published, on November 1, 1979. Thirty-six years later, on the eve of the Paris jihadist attacks, I would read the essay that made history and shaped Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.
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