On Friday, terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State attacked multiple targets around Paris. At least 129 victims were killed, and hundreds of others were seriously wounded. Inevitably, the civilized world began considering how best to respond to this catastrophe. French warplanes joined the United States, Russia and others in bombing the Islamic State. Closer to home, the right wing thinks the appropriate response is to indiscriminately indict all Muslims for these attacks, particularly refugees fleeing from them.
Playing into this, many, including President Barack Obama, have boldly declared that the Islamic State is, in fact, anti-Islamic. The remark underscores the right approach, but it misses the mark in a rather significant way.
The terrorists who fight and die for the Islamic State consider themselves, to their very core, to be highly religious people. In the territory controlled by the group, originalist interpretations of the Qur’an from the medieval ages are practiced extensively. The religious aspect simply cannot be ignored.
But David Koresh, who led the Branch Davidians in a standoff against the federal government outside of Waco in 1993 that led to the deaths of 86 people, was religious as well. Similar to the Islamic State, the Branch Davidians — a radical, violent offshoot of Christianity — cannot have their religious aspect and identity ignored.
Obviously, the principles of the Branch Davidians are anathema to nearly every single Christian on the planet. The same can be said for the Islamic State and Muslims worldwide. The vast majority of the Islamic State’s victims thus far have been Muslims accused of apostasy.
These are the genocidal maniacs from which millions of refugees, predominantly of Syrian origin, are fleeing. They have traveled through Europe and beyond and are now seeking asylum in the United States. Obama has been receptive, but the right wing has pushed back hard.
“Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Replacement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas,” Gov. Greg Abbott wrote Monday morning in a letter to Obama. “And I urge you, as president, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States.”
Ostensibly, the rationale for the letter was that refugees were responsible for the terrorist attacks in Paris. But a majority of those terrorists were French nationals, with others from Belgium.
When I was younger, I learned about the MS St. Louis, a German ship that carried 908 Jewish refugees out of Nazi Germany. The ship sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, but its passengers were rejected entry into the United States. Out of options, the refugees went back to Europe, where many died in the Holocaust. I remember learning about this tragedy and being unable to comprehend how any Americans could be so callous, so cruel. Abbott has shown that mindset has sadly persisted.
Make no mistake: The Islamic State is the Nazi Germany of our generation. And, if the Islamic State is Nazi Germany, then the people of Syria and Iraq are the Jews, the Roma and the Poles. A group of people who commits continuous mass executions, public crucifixions and wants to “purify” the world through mass genocide can be compared to few others. Hopefully, we won’t make the same mistake of turning people away from evil this time.
Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. Follow Horwitz on Twitter @NmHorwitz.