Saturday, January 28, 2017


One in 3.64 billion.
What’s that, you say? One in 3.64 billion? Is that the chance of being struck by lightning? No, that’s 1 in 280,000. Chance of winning the Powerball? Nope--that's 1 in 292 million. Is it the odds of the Browns winning a Super Bowl in our lifetime. Well, I doubt anyone has dared to even bother to calculate that it's so improbable, but even that certainly has a better than 1 in 3.64 billion chance of occurring.
So what is it? Simple. One in 3.64 billion is the chance that you will be killed in a terrorist attack in the United States by a refugee. 

Let me repeat: 1 in 3.64 billion.
So much like Dumb and Dumber, I’m sayin’ there’s a chance, but even Mary Swim, Swami, Slippy, Slappy, Samsonite Swanson gave Lloyd Christmas “1 in a million” odds. 1 in 3.64 billion is, of course, considerably lower. You could marry many Mary Swansons before you ever had to face down death from a terrorist attack by a refugee.
Yet yesterday happened. By that, I mean that an executive order was signed by our new President which banned refugees from 7 predominately Muslim countries (Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, and Libya), countries where, since September 11, 2001, not one refugee has originated from that has committed a successful terrorist attack. 

Done without warning, many of these refugees were so far along in the process of entering America that they were stopped and detained as they departed the planes that had brought them there, many of whom were then denied entry. These are people that were sponsored by families, churches, synagogues, and mosques to start the process of becoming Americans,.
But it’s worse than that--and that's pretty damn bad. Refugees are not the only ones banned. We've also banned individuals who had Visas or passports from these countries, people that had already been living and working here, with valid green cards or permanent resident cards. They cannot re-enter. These are people that have been a part of this country, through official channels, but had left to go on vacation, perhaps, or on business, or to visit family. Now, through no fault of their own, they cannot return. This includes doctors, scientists, janitors, fast food workers, Wal-Mart checkers, university professors, the list is endless. Made your home here for 20 years? Tough break, pal—go grab the seat next to Tom Hanks, you’re not leaving the terminal.
This is not OK. This is wrong, this is sick, this is immoral.
This is not America.
Or maybe it is? Maybe I’ve been wrong about everything that I thought I knew. Sure been feeling that way. See, I’ve always thought we were the land of the free and the home of the brave. We sing songs about it, and light fireworks to such sentiments. But if that is so, may I ask what kind of free people allow people of an entire religion and nationality to be persecuted and denied entry? (It should be noted that at this time, all religions are affected so long as they are coming from the seven countries mentioned above.) Furthermore, what kind of brave people cower in their homes and celebrate on the internet because they’ve averted a 1 in 3.64 billion chance of being killed by one of these refugees?
The stereotype on Americans is that we are extremely bad at recognizing irony (though it should be pointed out that it was Alanis Morissette, a Canadian, who is responsible for the non-ironic song Ironic). With that knowledge, let me help everyone out with my next point, an ironic one: this executive order does not make us safer. The 9-11 terrorists didn’t come from Syria, nor Sudan, nor Somalia. They came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Egypt. Which does not mean I advocate a ban on refugees and citizens from those countries, either, as that wouldn’t make us safer, either, and would be immoral and wrong as well. But if you’re wondering, perhaps, why we didn’t ban anyone from those nations, you might want to entertain the fact that President Trump has properties and business interests in some or all of those nations. 

"But it does make us safer, because, reasons!"
No, it doesn't. Look,  I will not pretend to be a terrorism expert. Sure, there’s a chance we could let in a terrorist with the refugees. It can happen. But by picking on predominately Muslim nations while stating in the order that preference will be given for entry to Christians, Trump has essentially declared war on a religion. In no way does that make us safer. We can no longer claim any moral authority, as shaky as the one we did claim can often be. But now that our intentions have been made clear toward the Muslim religion, those who would be moderate toward the United States will likely not be. Not only that, it is tearing apart families, harming our relationship with allies, and making it harder for us to fight future battles in the real fight against terrorists (for example, those that served as interpreters for us in Iraq were among the first to be barred entry to the country, making such individuals and those like them think twice about helping us ever again).

In short, we have a lot more enemies today than we had yesterday. That does not in any way make us safer.
And all because we couldn’t stomach 1 in 3.64 billion odds.