As the Levant Sank
November 2015. Years after the Arab Spring, years into the Syrian Civil War, years into the refugee crisis that finally came knocking on Europe’s doorstep. What we could once quietly ignore got louder when we saw Aylan wash ashore, and became blatantly confrontational when Paris started bleeding.
When Hungary refused to help, the refugees started walking. Austria opened her doors. Germany opened her doors. Icelanders opened their doors. They were the exceptions. Politicians, professing evangelical leaders and people next door frantically cried for closed doors—lest we let any jihadis in. A world tepid to call jihadis “Muslims” is all too comfortable glossing every Arab refugee as a jihadi. They’re all feeling a bit smug now, after a Syrian who’d blended in with the crowd died in a Parisian theatre hoping for Muhammed’s Paradise.
They’re saying we should’ve kept every refugee out of Europe.
We should’ve left them to the barrel bombs.
We should’ve left them to the chemical bombs.
We should’ve left them to the graveyards of their hometowns.
As if bloodthirsty suicide bombers need a refugee crisis to detonate a bomb in the West.
In April 1912, the Titanic went down in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. She took more than two-thirds of her passengers and crew with her. We know the story—“women and children first.” Not enough life boats. The band played until the end. One life boat went back. One. One of thirteen sparsely populated life boats. Five hundred people who could’ve sat in empty seats died at sea. Nobody hears that story now and thinks it was handled perfectly. They should’ve had more boats. They should’ve filled the boats. They should not have saved lives according to class.
There is no good way to save Syria right now—in Syria. The ideal for anyone caught in the crosshairs of ISIS, Assad and every other delusional boy band with weaponry is a successful evacuation. Every Arab is a human being, and every Muslim—extremist or otherwise—is crafted in the image of God. We have room in our life boats, and if we don’t load them up with lives while we wait for dawn, we are no better than those whose humanity was blinded by self-preservation on the cold ocean over a century ago. And we would be naïve to think we will always be on this side of the line of need.
To hoard our fragile safety is selfish.
To suspect every Arab of terrorism is racist.
To white-knuckle the national privileges we received while naked and empty-handed at birth is animalistic.
For those professing the Lordship of the Nazarene, may we love our neighbors without hesitation and meet the rage of godless men with the dying prayer of Christ—"Father, forgive them. They know not what they do."