Immigration, particularly from Muslim countries, has dominated headlines and presidential debates recently, and not without cause. Civil wars in the Middle East, mass migration, declining birth rates among ethnic Europeans, and radical Islamic terrorism have contributed to deep tensions globally and within our country between those who believe our obligation is to protect our country, culture, and families from the cancerous force of radical Islam, and those who believe our obligation is to aid those fleeing persecution from radical Islamic groups, like ISIS. The US church has a unique opportunity to offer a different way forward, to advocate for compassionate and wise aid for refugees in a way that blesses both them and their new community.
The debate over resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States was made more complex and distressing by the mass sexual assault of German women by what appears to have been North African and Middle Eastern asylum seekers in Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve. Details about exactly what happened and who was responsible are still sketchy, likely to remain so because of the intense debate over refugees in Germany right now. Over the past few years, far-right nationalism has gained momentum across Europe, and in Germany there have been mass protests against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of accepting asylum seekers. On the other side, there has been an effort to minimize crimes committed by refugees so as to protect the asylum program.
This tension between the political left who support the refugees and the far right who see them as a threat is simply not conducive to accurate and unbiased reporting. On the contrary, both sides have reasons to silence parts of this event and broadcast others. Much to their shame, it appears that the local government in Cologne tried to ignore or downplay the sexual assaults. Meanwhile some American pundits have jumped on the event as evidence for why we can’t possibly allow more Muslims into the United States.
Take, for example, The National Review, which ran a story claiming that Muslims are “unassimilable” into western society and that the immigration is really just part of a larger plan of conquest with “rape jihad” as a major strategy to overtake the West. Countless other, smaller online publications have likewise promoted this angle, arguing that fundamentally, Muslims cannot coexist with civilized western culture. According to them, Muslims will outbreed us, use political correctness to silence critics, use terrorist attacks to kill infidels, institute Sharia law in our court system, rape our women until they submit to Sharia law, mooch off of our entitlement programs, lie about Islam or anything else in order to seduce us into accepting them, insist that they are entitled to special treatment because of their religion, infiltrate and undermine every level of our government and military, and in general cause the destruction of the western civilization as we know it.
If you think I’m exaggerating, let me encourage you to read more widely. Find someone who supports Donald Trump. Read those articles your uncle keeps forwarding to you. These views are not held by fringe extremists in the US; rather, these are relatively common beliefs shared by many Americans, even evangelical Americans, about our neighbors.