How to Vet the Syrian Refugees

Domestic, International, Political Cartoons

Vetting Syrian Refugees

 Political leaders in the U.S., particularly on the far right, have used the attacks in Paris to galvanize support for their anti-immigrant platforms. Based on evidence that one of the attackers may have posed as a refugee to gain access to Europe, the House recently passed a bill to halt settling any refugees in the U.S. that originated from Syria or Iraq. Over two dozen governors have also, without any legal authority, refused refugees. This behavior, while not without precedent, is both baseless and repugnant to the fundamental character of this country.

There are over 4.3 million U.N-registered refugees who have fled Syria. Lebanon, which had a population of 4.5 million, absorbed 1.2 million Syrian refugees. Turkey, with a population of 75 million, is housing 2 million refugees.

And it’s not just countries in the Middle East accepting refugees from Syria. Germany (80 million) has accepted 38,500 Syrian refugees. France (population: 66 million) announced, days after the attack in Paris, that it would accept 30,000 refugees. Canada, (population: 35 million), has taken in 36,300 Syrian refugees since 2013.

The U.S., a country of 319 million people,  so far, has accepted 1,682 refugees – about half of which are children, according to the State Department. The process currently takes about 18-24 months, and includes interviews with officials from the Department of Homeland Security. Syrian refugees, in particular, have their documents placed under extra scrutiny. For all the panic, this doesn’t seem like a very convenient way for a would-be terrorist to gain access to the U.S.

In terms of moral responsibility, it should be noted that ISIS emerged largely as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and particularly the decision to disband the Iraqi army. Yet France and Germany, two countries which sternly opposed the Iraq war, and bearing much more of the burden of accepting families fleeing the region.

The Obama administration has pledged to take in 10,000 refugees from Syria. The U.S. can and should accept significantly more. There was also opposition to accepting refugees from Southeast Asia during the last decades of the 20th century – but the U.S. accepted more than a million without significant issue. Welcoming Syrian refugees is important for humanitarian reasons, and also for our character as a country. If some of the Republican candidates truly want to “make America great again,” they could start by returning America to a country that welcomes, rather than repels, immigrants and refugees yearning to breath free.

American Democracy! The Reality Show

Domestic, Political Cartoons

American Democracy Reality Show P1

 

American Democracy Reality Show p2

 

American Democracy Reality Show p3

 

American Democracy Reality Show p4

 

American Democracy Reality Show p5

American Democracy Reality Show p6

Last year I thought about using a reality TV show metaphor to highlight the similarities with the way we carry out elections. When I went back to the idea, it turned out that I wasn’t even working with a metaphor anymore. The huge field of Republican candidates, led by the former star of NBC’s reality hit “The Apprentice,” combined with the unspeakable laziness of broadcast media has led to an elimination game show style of campaign strategy and media coverage. All we can hope is that whoever wins is prepared for the challenges they face when they go from being a contestant in a reality show to President of the United States.

Don’t Say “Political Correctness”

Domestic, Political Cartoons

Political Correctness Cartoon

I’m not the first one to have this idea — check out an awesome Chrome extension by Byron Clark that will swap out each instance of “Political Correctness” with a more appropriate phrase. Clark based that off a blog post by Neil Gaiman on the same topic. For a good breakdown of the word check out this post by Mark McCutcheon and Amanda Taub’s response toJonathan Chait’s problematic article on political correctness.

Criminal Behavior

illustration, Political Cartoons, Writing

Baltimore Riots

The arrest and death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore by the hands of the police outraged the country, and mobilized thousands of citizens to protest against police brutality. The majority of the protests were peaceful and unnoticed, until some individuals became violent and damaged property. The media swarmed into Baltimore, though the direct and indirect causes of the rioting were neglected. Instead, the media pointed their cameras at the fires, and characterized a movement of citizens mobilizing to address serious grievances in their communities as looters and thugs. While the national attention could have been an directed to illuminate the economic and political context in the American city in general, the coverage provided little but rubbernecking and thinly-veiled racism. When the fires were put out the coverage stopped, but the problems in Baltimore remain.