Just before 8 a.m. on March 22, as the morning rush hit, the International Airport in Brussels, Belgium was shaken by two explosions. The nearby metro station was hit shortly thereafter. These explosions killed 31 people and injured 300 more.
Soon after, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took credit for the cataclysmic events, as though causing death and destruction were great achievements. In a sequence of events becoming all too familiar, a mix of confusion and despair flooded the hearts of millions. Many asked why anybody would seek to harm so many innocent people. What purpose could such an evil attack possibly serve?
It is easy for us to become consumed with such questions but there is another critical question demanding an answer. What should we, as citizens of the world, do to overcome terrorist groups like ISIS and prevent future attacks?
Throughout the recent turmoil in Syria, many world leaders and citizens have insisted states should help by providing a safe haven for millions who have fled war-torn Syria. The issue of whether nations are obligated to help these refugees has been repeatedly debated. Months ago, this conversation was quieting. Many European countries had opened their borders to more refugees, despite ISIS’ attack in Paris that led to 130 deaths.
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The recent tragedy in Brussels, however, has reignited the debate.
Many Americans had already expressed opposition to allowing refugees into this country before the Brussels bombings and Paris attacks. However, many others believed our duty as citizens of the world was to take in those who had left their homelands in search of refuge.
However, Europe has quickly become a target of ISIS’ escapades, and many countries have changed their minds. Poland, for instance, had decided to welcome refugees, but since the attacks has declared it will not accept any. Other countries with open-border policies, like France, have been overrun and begun seeking to reverse the damage caused by this influx of refugees.
ISIS having become such a clear threat to humankind, it is evident that the U.S., as a superpower, must do something to stop these terrorists. Blindly accepting thousands of refugees into our country as an attempted demonstration of compassion, however, is not necessarily the right solution.
During the thick of the debate, Syrian refugees were compared to bowls of candy, terrorists being a few poisonous candies within. If one knew a few pieces of the candy were poisonous, would one still eat some? The obvious answer was “no.”
This sparked outrage, many believing it insensitive. However, now that we have real numbers, has it gained validity? According to a recent report by security officials, ISIS has sent at least 400 fighters into Europe, hidden in large groups of refugees in classic Trojan-horse style, with orders to cause maximum damage at first opportunity.
The world is suffering, and every person who does not stand with ISIS must stand against them. The ways we should stand against ISIS, however, are not clear. Do we put more boots on the ground in the Middle East? Do we send guns, or monetary support to our allies, or intensify our systems for vetting those who make their way into the U.S.?
Although we may not have the answers to these questions, two things stand clear.
First, we do not need to make the mistakes that many countries already have, opening our borders to vast numbers of refugees without scrutiny. Second, we must not continue to sit idly by and do nothing at all. We must rise up to defeat terrorism, together, or perish.
Kate Belarmino is a junior in the Honors College at Western Kentucky University.