Counterpoint: Dealing With Dishonesty

Counterpoint: Dealing With Dishonesty

What many conservatives don't know is that U.S. sanctions often preceded terrorism in the countries targeted by Trump.

When people assert surprising “truths” from the Bible, I feel compelled to look twice. After reading Michael Giere’s disturbing “Evangelical Pushback on Refugees,” I found cause to review my Bible. As I expected, in none of its books could I find a reading that recommends turning refugees away as a measure of love.

For a moment, let’s not discuss the ridiculous nature of Giere’s logic. Instead, let’s address the subject of responsibility. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus says “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” That’s pretty unambiguous, but how does it apply here? The answer is “simple.” Many conservatives — apparently Giere is among them — feel that refugees from terrorist nations are victims of bad luck that has nothing to do with the United States.  They are flat-out wrong.

Scholars of terrorism know that terrorist organizations thrive in failing and failed states. What many conservatives don’t know is that U.S. sanctions often preceded the existence of terrorism in the countries listed below. In those with preexisting support for terrorism, U.S. intervention has usually resulted in terrorist organizatons of increased lethality. As the table below demonstrates, the humanitarian crises in all seven nations are linked to U.S. actions.

Nation Sanctions U.S. Military Action Harboring Terrorism Humanitarian Crisis
Iran Since 1979 CIA-assisted coup 1953; minor naval actions since 1988 Yes Yes-oppressive regime
Iraq 1990 until overthrow Since 1991;

overthrow in 2003

Yes Yes
Libya 1982 until overthrow Since 1981;

overthrow in 2011

Yes Yes
Somalia Military aid to Somalia ended 1988; sanctions since 2010 Since 1991 Yes Yes
Sudan Since 1993 Drone strikes since 1998; troops since 2016 Yes Yes
Syria Since 1986 Since 2014 Yes Yes
Yemen Military aid to Yemen ended in 1990; sanctions since 2012 Since 2015 Yes Yes


In short, the U.S. government has played a major role in maintaining our national security while placing citizens of those countries at significant risk. Now return to what Jesus says about responsibility in Luke. Applied here, it is obvious that the people of the United States have responsibilities to the refugees from these countries.

St. Matthew might ask Giere, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own?” Since President Trump signed his executive order on January 27, conservatives like Giere have rushed to assemble statistics that would lend credibility to the president’s apocryphal claim of “bad dues” entering the U.S. The shameful fact is that the real danger comes from people like Omar Mateen, Esteban Santiago, and Dylann Roof, who killed a combined total of 64 Americans in mass shootings. These three weren’t refugees. They have American citizenship — and probably mental health issues — in common.

Still, Mr. Giere does remind me of a Biblical teaching —  that of 2 Timothy 4 — which says “The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then they will shut their ears to the truth and will turn to myths.” I hope conservatives don’t collect Giere or his deceptive mythology. The Bible doesn’t advocate slamming the door on those in need, and we do have a responsibility to help refugees who flee countries we destabilized.


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  • FrankUnderwoodSr

    First, the US is not responsible for causing terrorism. Filling in a table that correlates our fight against terrorism with countries that actually support terrorism is hardly compelling evidence of cause and effect. You have cause and effect actually reversed.

    Second, the massive exodus of refugees began after Obama’s withdrawal, effectively turning his back on the region, and allowing ISIS to run amok with genocide. To that extent, yes, the US is responsible for refugees, but not because of our previous military action as you assert; rather it was our military inaction, and our premature withdrawal after Iraq had been stabilized.

    Third, Giere was not dishonest at all as your title implies. That was an unnecessary gratuitous insult. Nobody wants to ignore refugees. Refugees should be helped. But it isn’t necessary to immigrate massive numbers to the US, particularly when we can clearly see how such a reckless immigration policy has damaged Europe. There are many other ways to help.

    • Michael Parkyn
      • Sailblazer

        More than one.

        • Michael Parkyn

          Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in
          the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such
          person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and
          is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that
          country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account
          of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or
          political opinion, or

          (B) in such circumstances as the President after appropriate consultation (as
          defined in section 207(e) of this Act) may specify, any person who is within the
          country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no
          nationality, within the country in which such person is habitually residing, and
          who is persecuted or who has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of
          race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or
          political opinion. The term “refugee” does not include any person who ordered,
          incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on
          account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group,
          or political opinion. For purposes of determinations under this Act, a person
          who has been forced to abort a pregnancy or to undergo involuntary
          sterilization, or who has been persecuted for failure or refusal to undergo such
          a procedure or for other resistance to a coercive population control program,
          shall be deemed to have been persecuted on account of political opinion, and a
          person who has a well founded fear that he or she will be forced to undergo such
          a procedure or subject to persecution for such failure, refusal, or resistance
          shall be deemed to have a well founded fear of persecution on account of
          political opinion.

  • BIGron

    If our intel communities, with their inherent responsibility to protect America, are relying on this kind of drivel to develop policies, is there any wonder why so many wiretaps against the Trump administration to include them ILLEGAL leaks to the media are occurring? Drain the swamp!

  • Sailblazer

    Is there no limit to the “refugees” and the hijrah hordes that our country should accept? Aren’t there many other countries in the middle east whose culture would better match that of the “refugees?” We already take in over a million immigrants a year. Should America become the dumping ground of the world’s dispossessed.

    • Michael Parkyn

      Look up “cold war.” We screwed up more third world nations in the name of opposing communism than you can count. We install a pro-western ruler in Vietnam… collapse and refugees. We use Somalia as a proxy to fight the USSR’s support of Ethiopia, but when the cold war ends and the money goes, Somalia tanks.

      Unlimited admissions? Hell no – let’s talk continued limits, assimilation, language requirements perhaps. All manner of criteria, but recognize Giere’s and Frankunderwood’s proposed “help them in other ways” for what it is — a rationalization for Trump’s aim at a total ban. “Limited admissions AND help by other means?” That should be the topic.

      We take no where close to a million refugees per year. In fact, we haven’t exceeded 100k since 1995. Department of State database here.

      Of the nations in the table, Yemen, Syria, and Libya had preexisting support for terrorism, and in all three cases it is worse now. In the other four nations, our sanctions went into effect prior to state support of terrorism. US counterterrorism policy has not succeeded, but it has destabilized these nations.

      • Sailblazer

        I said 1 million IMMIGRANTS, not refugees.

        • Michael Parkyn

          Sorry, I assuned you meant refugees because introducing the topic ofntotal immigration onto this topic is a totally different matter.
          But lets go there since we hate those immigrant scum…We had 1.2 million 1913 & 1914; 1.5 in 1990, 1.8 in 1991. The list goes on.
          1 million is old news and less significant than ever.
          1 million immigrants is 1/3 of 1% in today’s United States. Are we really threatened by 1/3 of 1 %? Dumping ground? In what way do they not contribute the same or more to society than Americans by birth?
          The only people who need to fear immigrants are the people who fear hard working competition.

          • Aaron Moyer

            In my opinion, there’s a HUGE difference between the 1M+ immigrants in 1913/14 and the 1M+ coming in today. In 1913/14, they were almost exclusively European, they came to the US for opportunity, and they willingly assimilated into our existing culture. Most of the ones coming today are non-European, end up on government welfare (which didn’t even exist in 1913/14), and don’t assimilate-either because they don’t want to, don’t have to (the govt. provides free translators and information in many languages), or are encouraged not to (by subversive groups that want to “fundamentally change” America). Furthermore, any comparison specifically WRT any “refugees” from 100yrs ago also ignores another HUGE difference: religious affiliation! The non-Muslim religious individuals from 100yrs ago would have viewed their religion as subordinate to the rule of law. Muslims view their religion AS the rule of law. So, by definition, most Muslims want to “fundamentally change” America, subordinating the US Constitution to Sharia. Adding this to the HUGE disparity between the existing American birth rate (1.88) and Muslim birth rates (2.7-5.6) [], this spells total disaster for American society as we have all known it in our lifetimes!! THAT’S the heart of the issue with Muslim refugees!! Finally, I will paraphrase a recent tweet from Franklin Graham: Locking your doors doesn’t mean you hate everyone on the outside, it means you love the people on the inside!

          • Connie S.

            Well said! ^^

          • Michael Parkyn

            I don’t totally agree with respect to impact in 1913/4 vs. now. Although fewer immigrants were Muslim, the immigrants were still “others” who comprised more than 1% of population change in one year. Refugee flows from the 7 countries, by comparison, comprise 1/10 of 1%.

            The stats you cite highlight the differences between “them” and “us” are important — to me, they point to the true topic we should be on: if a group that is 1/10 of 1% is so influential, what does that say about our culture? Who are we and what are we trying to be? I don’t hear that in political circles, that only seem to focus on what we oppose.

            I won’t paraphrase Colin Powell (Pottery Barn Rule) or the inscription at Ellis Island (Give me your tires…). But I will say if we don’t do the right thing, we give up an essential part of who we are, and we can’t afford that.

          • Aaron Moyer

            You missed the point of what I was trying to say about America having a birth rate of 1.88. I was not lamenting that America will eventually cease to exist because our population’s birth rate is below replacement rate, even without Muslims “wiping us off the face of the planet”. Instead, I AM concerned about how our society will be transformed LONG before we get to that point. You are naive if you believe it takes large percentages of Muslims to have a big impact on a country. Look at what is happening in many European countries. None of those populations are comprised of large percentages of Muslims – yet women are now living in constant fear of being sexually assaulted; and courts are changing their normal rulings under existing law, citing Sharia as taking precedent when ruling on cases involving Muslim perpetrators. All of this is being enabled by Europe’s more socialistic societies making the argument that their countries need to welcome “Muslim refugees” with open arms. I’m arguing that America needs to learn from European countries’ mistakes. You appear to be arguing that they didn’t make a mistake; and the horrendous headlines I read are “fake news”. As Ayn Rand said: “You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”

            Concerning your final point that we need to “do the right thing”, otherwise we will “give up an essential part of who we are, and we can’t afford that”… I will argue that we have ALREADY given up an essential part of who we are!! Otherwise, many people in our own country, perhaps even you, would not be arguing that America needs to “get off its high horse” and be more like the rest of the world. As much as American society has already deteriorated, I STILL believe that much of the rest of the world, ESPECIALLY those areas from whence our “refugees” are fleeing, needs to rise to our level. We should NOT allow ourselves to be drug down to their level. I hope you may yet be convinced of the need to do that.

          • Michael Parkyn

            I hear you, Aaron, and appreciate your willingness to discuss. One experience that shapes the way I approach this issue: My extended family includes a refugee from Vietnam, and immigrants from Canada and Mexico. All entered lawfully. One manufactures aircraft components, one owns a portrait photography studio, and one is a software engineer. The latter has a daughter who is a physician’s assistant. My experience here matches the article I linked earlier in these comments — that immigrants tend to appreciate what is offered in the US, work very hard for it, and add measurably to our country. And I remember all of the hostility shown towards Vietnamese refugees; it sounds not unlike what I am hearing today. I am not likely to be hostile to refugees anytime soon.

            On your second point, that of the influence of Islam on America, I hear you as well. If we don’t assert our norms, they won’t be honored. If we don’t demand that the federal government must consider assimilation in the calculus, then shame on us. All of these factors and more are worthy of discussion.

            Several years ago, Muslims built a big mosque near the WTC over strenuous cries of invasion. My own sense of unease over that turned to embarrassment when I learned they were building on the grounds of a church that had been shuttered years ago because people stopped worshipping there. So did the Muslims invade or did we abandon? Now I don’t go through life feeling guilty about that, but I believe if we lack the clarity to own our part in this, we won’t survive long. We must actually invest in the communities and lifestyles we claim to value.

            The European countries screwed up in more ways than one. Germany has years of a guest worker program that took in foreigners but inhibited assimilation. It was bottled-up cheap labor, only now it’s frustrated, not so cheap labor and a bunch of refugees who’ve joined the mob. France is paying the price for their colonial behavior in Tunisia, admitting colonial Tunisians into France but again no assimilation. In both countries, relatively unconstrained arrivals (who had some cohesion in Islam) were met by cultures that looked to me as if in a state of atrophy. In both places, they have become influential contenders.

            We need to have a reasoned discussion on how many refugees we can accommodate, how they assimilate, and on. It needs to result in a gain to, not an erosion of, American culture. But we must do all of that without blaming refugees for our fears, our faults. In a nation of 300+ million guns and that many citizens who think that being American is something special, I fail to see why we can’t manage that.

  • mezurak

    As someone who was around those areas back then, I guess my recollection of events is quite different from the author.

    • Michael Parkyn

      We’re not “Twitter limited” and I’m not threatened by other ideas — what nations were you in and what do you recall that is different?

  • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

    Ok Michael, how many refugee’s have taken into your home? More than Mr. Giere I hope?

    Are you and where you willing to walk instead of drive a car, or pay higher prices for gasoline? Cause that is what this all about.

    • Michael Parkyn

      For all I’m concerned he could be running a thousand-refugee camp in Sudan right now — if he’s delving into deceptive Biblical interpretation for the sake of supporting an immigrant ban he is wrong in giant proportions.

      And if you want to imply a refugee ban is needed to keep gas prices down, I’m not sure what I’do say…except to suggest you should go there, and seek therapy. And come back to the U.S. with a documented big kid name you can use in big kid discussions.

      • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

        First off, you didn’t answer the question. How many of the refugees that you want “us” to take in, are now under your roof.

        No, I am implying that our middle-east policy was dictated by our need for oil way back when.

        Anddddd, EVERYBODY in here who is anybody knows EXACTLY who I am. In fact, some people probably know more about me than I do. Just because you are not in the loop is not my problem. Perhaps if you were a conservative or Republican you would be in the loop?

        And lastly, attacking my ID is what weak, wanta be,

        • Michael Parkyn

          Interesting. You want to go off the topics — that use of the Bible to support an immigration ban is inherently dishonest, and that the United States has taken overseas actions with consequences for which we are responsible. You want to do that with a personal discussion about me while concealing your identity from the discussion. Conversational Klansmann.
          Not biting.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            Well, try this. Based on the definition of the word “refugee” , one has to ask are if these people are even refugees????? They don’t even qualify as refugees.

            The word refugee is defined as someone who was “forced to leave”. These people were not forced. They are enticed by some foreign countries offering a carrot (public assistance).

            Also, if you will read Genesis 11:1-9, you will see that the Lord scattered people. He did that for a reason.

            And, we are a country $20 Trillion in debt, without jobs for the people who are already here.

            Now, chew on that.

          • Michael Parkyn

            If they don’t fit the legal definition, they shouldn’t be admitted. I’m pretty sure if you read the entire definition, they fit. If you know otherwise, I’m sure you have the data — show it.

            Yes, the Bible has lots about God scattering, destroying cities — all sorts of stuff.
            God. You know that’s not you, right?

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            Weak, very weak. And, I’m just another John Doe nobody.

            How many of these not refugees, has Saudia Arabia, Iran, and the other middle-east countries, and Russia, Australia, etc. taken?

            No, they (not technically refugees) want to head to those countries dangling the public assistance carrot, the USA and a few others.

            Again, how many did you say you have taken in? Your water bucket won’t hold any water.

          • Michael Parkyn

            You are.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll
          • Michael Parkyn

            Yeah, hmm. Timothy may not have foreseen the Internet, but if we could bring him up to speed on it, he would surely warn you that uncritically buying into a website managed by a man who describes himself as “a hack and a flack” is a sign that you are a John Doe Nobody he had in mind when he wrote 2 Timothy 16…


  • Connie S.

    I’ll tell what’s disturbing – the whole false premise of this article – to wit: America is evil. WE caused terrorism. Jesus wants us take in all the refugees. All a bunch of lefty anti-American hokum.

    Surprised at TBE for publishing this unpatriotic, blame-America piece.

    Oh, and Michael Giere’s article is great – spot on.

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