Do Americans fear terrorist attacks on our soil? Of course, we do! And we would be incalculably more afraid if we lived among hundreds or thousands of terrorists, and we had the bombs of Bashar Assad and the French and the Russians and the Americans all exploding in our cities.
If we were Syrians, we would be doing everything we could to move our families and ourselves out of this rain of death and terror. How can we recognize our own fear and not that of our fellow human beings who are trying to escape a situation infinitely worse than ours?
Nothing in life is risk-free, not the multi-layered refugee screening process and not living in the United States, alarmingly awash with guns, and with the growing number of home-grown radicals already in our midst.
But the extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim reaction of some to the carnage in Paris only confirms and exacerbates the alienation felt by those who have become – and are still becoming – radicalized. More important, the refusal to see desperate Syrian refugees as our brothers and sisters debases the very values that underlie this nation, the values that distinguish us from the barbarity of ISIS.