Open Arms

Governors of several states Monday announced that until the federal government can explicitly outline their procedures for vetting Syrian refugees, such individuals would not be welcomed to settle in their respective states.

To many (especially those on the left) this sounds rather draconian, or maybe it’s just because the governors who are pausing to take a step back to monitor the situation have that pesky ‘R’ after their names.

Are there more compassionate ways to come to the aid of Syrian refugees other than opening our country to the possibility that the very jihadists who are forcing these innocent refugees to flee their homeland are cutting in line?  There has to be.  Humanitarianism does not have to be an either / or proposition.  Especially when we already live in a country where there exists an all or nothing ideological approach to immigration.

I will concede that 99% of the refugees fleeing ISIS-controlled Syria are not terrorists, but it sure wouldn’t be hard for Mr. One Percent to weasel himself in among the crowd.  Does anyone know if the Syrian government has made available their intelligence data so that the Department of Homeland Security can properly and comprehensively vet each individual seeking asylum in the U.S.?  No, they haven’t because they can’t—Syria’s a mess.  So where is the data that Homeland Security will use to screen refugees?  Or is Homeland Security making this up as they go along?

Creating a safe haven for Syrian refugees is paramount, but creating that safe haven does not have to include laying the groundwork for another 9/11. The last time I looked at a map of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia was pretty big, and Qatar’s GDP ranks number one in the world.  To date, neither country has accepted even one Syrian refugee.  Zero.  The doors are locked to Russia, Japan, and South Korea as well.

Western civilizations are compassionate, so compassionate that they’re willing to invite the conflict into their own countries.  Does it have to be that way?  Is there an approach whereby every sovereign nation can to do its part, whether by offering asylum or offering aid?  Does proximity and culture weigh into the question of where best to place these individuals?

Imagine the jihadist—that Mr. One Percent—who enters Indiana under the guise of fleeing his hostile homeland. He checks his Twitter feed Friday, prepares his going away present Saturday, and when you and your precious family are at the Colts game Sunday afternoon, this son of a bitch blows himself up outside the gates of Lucas Oil Stadium at the end of the game, taking countless innocent lives along with him.

Imagine the card carrying members of ISIS who evaded the strict protocol of Homeland Security (because they did not have ‘NAJ’—Not a Jihadist—stamped on their passports), came to settle in the Circle City, and in an effort to eradicate the infidels one venue at a time, storm the entrance of the Carmel Palladium while you and your family are enjoying a performance and stage a murderous rampage at the beginning of the second act.

I am compassionate, but I refuse to fall prey to the ideology that if you don’t blithely roll out the welcome mat to those who seek to harm us that you’re some kind of heartless monster.  There are other ways to be compassionate.

And finally, I find it disturbing that any sane person would be angrier at America’s governors for wanting to pause the influx of refugees—and who are seeking only to protect American citizens from death and destruction—than at the jihadists who want to destroy all of western civilization.

The Magnificent Aschenbachs

Lately, many people have been asking me if I’m writing a sequel to The Gym Show.  While I think a sequel would be an excellent complement to what will always be (maybe) my favorite novel, I had already begun my second novel before The Gym Show became so popular.  So will I write a sequel?  Yes.  But first, my compulsive personality insists that I finish my second novel, The Magnificent Aschenbachs.

Would you like a peek?  Thought so.  Here is an excerpt from The Magnificent Aschenbachs.

   After that rather strange greeting, January’s initial reaction to Richard’s home was one of awe, but she fought the urge to appear wide-eyed and naïve, and tried desperately to appear as if it were an everyday thing to walk into a spectacularly furnished and appointed mansion like the main character in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.  And, like the nameless protagonist, January felt childishly out-of-place and wished she had worn something a little less showy (Gold lame, January, really?) and a little more conservative.

    Sadly, she didn’t have clothes in her wardrobe to match the splendor of the home, and she certainly was not dressed in the same manner as Richard’s mother, the formidable looking Angelika.  What did Angelika say to Richard when he had introduced her?  She knew it was German by the accent, but she had no idea what she said.  Richard had seemed rather taken aback, and even now, he was still somewhat quiet as if Angelika’s words had generated in him some meaningful response that he was still trying to piece together in his perplexed state.  January felt as if he was going through the motions of shepherding her through the house without really considering her at all.  This was turning out to be one of the most awkward and uncomfortable experiences she had ever remembered and wondered if all first dates were this excruciating.

The story is set in the mid-80’s in Indianapolis, and if you’re a Booth Tarkington fan, you might recognize that the title is a play off his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Magnificent Ambersons.  Think of my interpretation, though, as another slice of life in Indianapolis, told mainly through the eyes of a young inner-city teacher who faces daunting challenges both in her professional and her personal life.

It’s going to be spectacular, I promise!  Estimated time of completion?  I’ll keep you posted.