The Western world has no inkling or beginning of an idea, strategy or plan regarding the human wave breaking over it. Behind the sadness over the humanitarian crisis that has sent hundreds of thousands scrambling for shelter, any shelter, and the help extended, even and perforce temporary (water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, a place to lie down for the weary) is the elephant sitting there that most everyone pretend is not: the faith that these refugees belong to, Islam. Over the last few decades, the West has developed fear of and loathing for a religion that until the Iranian Revolution of 1979 was like any other. The blame of the terribly negative connotation it now has lies solely with the faithful themselves. Islam is no longer a religion but, in a frightening return to its roots, a political ideology based on world domination.
The masses who until thirty-six years ago—despite propaganda and more or less covert action from movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other similar conservative, by-the-book Islamist organizations—went about their business, some practicing, some not, never demanding, any more than followers of other faiths, respect or the imposition of their own customs, mores, and cultures on non-Muslims, or judging entire foreign societies by their own standards, now do all this, with a vengeance. The French can hardly find meat not bearing the hallal label; British women are heckled on the streets by ranting Islamists who yell at them to dress more modestly; female American converts cover up from head to toe, ignorant of the plight of Saudi women who chafe under the imposed burka; Muslim women everywhere in the West defiantly cover their heads as a sign of deep piety, not realizing that this is not a cultural or religious sign but a recent trend and that in countries like Iran where women have to, they fight back by stealthily posting photos and videos of their flowing long hair and at least once in recent memory taken to the streets naked, in utter rebellion; swimming pools in European cities have days for women only (who still cover up in “burkinis,” possibly wary of the salacious looks of other women?) Then there are the prophets, the brain washers, the ideologues, who fan these flames on innumerable sites with their public defense of fanaticism and the sanctity of the Koran and the Prophet. Not a word of the first can be changed, not a hair on the second can by mentioned for fear of blasphemy. The punishment for which, quite simply, is death. All the while, moderate voices, often Muslim, rise, asking for revisions and second opinions, to no avail as the violent chorus on the other side drowns all discussion.
So yes, the West is afraid while the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees flee both Assad and ISIS, while the Libyans, Iraqis and Africans caught in the lawlessness and violence in their lands risk a miserable death to reach countries where no one wants them, precisely because of the terrible image that Islam has created for itself. European leaders either act pious and welcoming and open the doors wide or venture into extreme-right discourse and the erection of walls while Europeans on the whole engage into their permanent reductive blame-America-for-everything stance. Of course, the awful Bush administration is responsible for the rise of the Taliban, for the emergence of the ISIS monsters, for the total disruption of countries like Iraq, Libya and others in the God-forsaken Middle East that, despite unpleasantly repressive regimes, knew a certain degree of stability. But whatever the causes of the present chaos, no one wants more mosques, more public prayers in the streets, more veiled women, more sharia, more lessons on morality.
Then we have the Iran nuclear deal. I personally am against all things nuclear, whether for peaceful or belligerent purposes. The protection of our planet and the safety of its populations should be our first consideration. Have we forgotten Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima and the hundreds of lesser accidents constantly occurring? Aren’t we afraid of the next catastrophe? Alternative sources of energy, abundantly available, should be our only preoccupation.
Also, an agreement with a criminal regime which offers military and strategic help to Hamas, Hezbollah and Bashar Assad, a regime which has executed over 700 Iranians since the beginning of the year, which arbitrarily arrests not only its own citizens but foreign journalists and missionaries (The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian has been rotting in a cell for almost a year, on no specific charge) is not palatable. How can there have been nary a mention of this terrible record? Obama and Kerry or their successors will live to regret not only the agreement but their silence on major issues the day the Iranians renege on part or all of the agreement, as they will.
Regarding the migrant situation, idea, strategy or plan should have been an all-out, concerted effort directed at the complex and multiple sources of the problems in the Middle East, reining in the exaggerated power wielded by the Iranian Qods force in the region, reaching some kind of accord with the murderous Syrian leader, actually pushing back against ISIS’s expansion, bringing to heel the awful Netanyahu and his irresponsible talk of an Iranian nuclear attack.
Stopping the flow of refugees has now become an impossible task and numbers will no doubt climb in the coming months and years. The Middle East is in tatters, its fleeing people come up against walls; where they don’t, it’s the local citizens who are not only worried about having to dig deep in their own pockets to fund unwanted visitors but also angered and often terrified by a religion once respectable, now a hydra rearing its many ugly heads.