Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

Syrian Refugees—To close our doors grants victory to the terrorists


Syrian refugee with her children © Costas Metaxkis, AFP Getty Images

Syrian refugee with her children © Costas Metaxkis, AFP Getty Images

The waves toss the boat from one side to the other. I know within the boat are many more people, much more weight, than the boat was designed to hold. My eyes scan the endless water on all sides in hopes of seeing land across its expanse. My three young children huddle beside me. None of us can swim. I’ve chosen to put my children and myself in this place, because my homeland has been destroyed, family killed, nothing is left of our home, but rubble, blood, the dreams it once held, and the memories of what once was and will never be. I have no money, no idea where we’re going other than the hope of a safe place, something now impossible in my homeland.

Back in my own kitchen, I read of the Syrian refugees and try to imagine the horror necessary to drive people make this choice. I sit surrounded by easy to reach food, family photos, electricity and water, walls and windows between me and the elements and try to imagine a life so desperate to force people to leave behind homes, bank accounts, warmth, family treasures, roots, their entire world and walk to the edge of a sea, often with their children, to climb aboard a small boat to head out across the sea.

Half of all the pre-war population of Syria—11 million people—have been killed or forced to flee their homes. More than half are children. We have all seen the photo of young Aylan Kurdi’s body on the beach, drowned along with his mother and brother. In the month following Aylan’s death, 77 more children that we know of, drowned.

It is impossible to read of the tragedy in Paris, to look at the photos of those killed and those left behind, and not weep and experience a visceral response. The terrorists who inflicted theses horrors on Paris and the world deserve to be caught and held responsible. ISIS must be eliminated. The pain, suffering, and deaths created by this organization must be stopped.

Yet, to imagine that the terrorists who committed the horrors in Paris somehow reflect the whole of Syrian refugees supports the terrorists’ wishes and perpetuates the tragedy. This notion extends terrorists’ reach beyond Syria’s borders to victimize the refugees, already casualties of war and terrorism in their homeland, again. In the calls for war, the fact that ISIS grew in direct response from the US invasion of Iraq has been lost.

Around the US, officials announce the closing of their borders to Syrian refugees in response to the terrorist acts in Paris. One wonders if these officials truly believe the terrorists in Paris to be a reflection of all Syrians, or if the tragedy is now being exploited to cloak xenophobia. To imagine that the terrorist cells reflect the Syrian population as a whole is the equivalent of holding American Timothy McVeigh, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing and 168 deaths, as a reflection of all Americans.

Syrian refugees are desperate for and deserve the chance to create a new life for their children. If we close our doors, not only do we grant victory to the terrorists, we aid them in their cause.

The waves toss the boat from one side to the other…

Op-Ed published in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Dawn Wink is an educator and writer whose work explores the tensions and beauty of language, culture, and place. Her latest book, Meadowlark.




Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of language, culture, and place.

33 thoughts on “Syrian Refugees—To close our doors grants victory to the terrorists

  1. Pingback: United States Republican candidates and wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Very well said, especially powerful because of your first paragraph is likely to reflect the feelings of any compassionate person, regardless of their political stance. What I wish most of all is that we could give them back their country and their homes, but realistically, the best we can do is provide an open door AND a welcome mat to a new country and a new home. Thanks for taking the time to write such a heartfelt and logical letter to your local paper. You make me proud to be a writer.

    • Tom, thanks so very much for all you express here. I agree, and I’m sure refugees do, too, that they would love their country and their homes back. As you write so beautifully, the best we can do is provide an open door AND a welcome mat to a new home and life. Thank you so very much for your compassionate and wise words here. Deep gratitude.

  3. Hi Dawn: I am so glad you expressed this because many times I don’t understand how migration is suppose to work. Living here in NM, which at one time was Mexico, I would think that they are neighbors, cousins, and possibly mostly children trying to get across a river to the States and it isn’t permitted. So much red tape! Its the same situation. Families leaving everything behind to make a better life for themselves. Seems the government doesn’t feel sorry for refugees unless they can be used for something like slaves, or to gain votes!! So if refugees are trying not to look back, I really wish them something positive to look forward to. I hope there are others with a strong voice willing to express the same concerns and together, maybe someone will listen!! Thank you Dawn…

    • Virginia, thank you so very much for taking the time to connect – and bringing the perspective of those of us living in New Mexico, once Mexico, and forever land of indigenous peoples, into this conversation! Here’s to us both lifting our voices! Big hugs, Dawn

  4. Thanks for this Dawn. While we’ve been having some of the same debates here in Canada, the government has committed to its plan to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of December. That hasn’t stopped those who don’t want to listen to facts from bringing some xenophobic and racist dialogue to the debate. But overall, the response from those wanting to help has been overwhelming. And heartwarming. Because if our response is not to provide safe haven to the victims, then you are right, these people will be victimized all over again, and the terrorists win. I’m happy to hear your voice on this, because watching from north of the border, we get a lot of reports of Trump and the other crazies and it can be disheartening. So thank you for this my friend!

    • Anne, thanks so much for bringing what is happening in Canada into this conversation. I hope Canada will stand by it’s promise to those 25,000 refugees. I am so grateful to know that the response from those wanting to help has been overwhelming and the tide is in their favor. Let’s stick together on this!! XOXO Dawn

  5. I agree with you. I can’t believe this country would turn its back on these refugees. Is it fair that Europe has to shoulder the whole burdon. We are a spoiled and selfish nation.

    • Howard, thanks so much for taking the time to connect on this. I hope we will share, along with Europe, in opening our doors to people already traumatized by terrorism.

  6. Bravo my friend!! I share your feelings! I am ashamed of this ignorance among supposed leaders! And phobia of one sort or another definitely hits the nail on the head!!

  7. So true, Dawn! I work with a Syrian American lady and she is one of the loveliest people I know – hard-working, intelligent, kind.

    • Mary, I so often think this, too, when I hear generalizations about any group, and I think of the people that I know, and how they put those generalizations to shame. Thank you, thank you for sharing this. Our voices are especially important to lift. Thank you for lifting yours!

  8. Somehow motherhood helps paint the gut wrenching big picture on our hearts without needing to play out the politics of it all. I hope the New Mexican gets your piece in quickly. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Charlotte, for me, too, motherhood winnows away the unessential (including how this is used politically) and leaves only the shards of reality and life. Thank you for sharing your own mothering and life wisdom. Gratitude!

  9. So proud of my Dawnie. xo mom.wow.com

  10. Well Done!!!!

  11. Very well written. Love Dawn

  12. Sherry, I love that you wrote Mom’s name instead of mine at first. I think I’ve actually done the same thing multiple times! Yes, yes, yes on all here that we cannot turn our backs on the refugees AND of the horrors of ISIS ideology and actions. We can’t perpetuate their terrorism by further victimizing those who are already victims of their reign. Thanks so much for taking the time to connect on all here. — Joan….I mean, Dawn Yes, coffee.

  13. These words fly – as yours often do – into and from my heart. They echo my own thoughts, validate my own beliefs. By allowing Daesh (as they are called by the people they terrorize, apparently a term of derision) to define what it is to be Muslim, Syrian – anything but the terrorists that they are, is to extend their power and influence. Every time we call them Islamic State, we help perpetuate their lies and propaganda. They are not a state, but are quickly becoming one. And we help them by damning all Muslims in the name of ISIL. Daesh is to Islam what the KKK is to Christianity: a perverted interpretation of a widespread faith, held by a tiny minority who use violence to promote their perversions.

    Thank you Dawn, for your eloquence.

    • Marie, with your expertise in history and the human dynamic throughout time, all you write here went straight to my own heart. Thank you for bringing Daesh into my vocabulary and understanding to contextualize the reality of what is happening and the experiences of those this group terrorizes. Dash is to Islam what KKK is to Christianity. Thank you and thank you.
      Much love,

  14. morning slip… Dear DAWN… not Joan. I need another cup of coffee

  15. Dear Joan…. I totally agree that we can’t turn our backs on the refugees, just that we should temporarily make the decision to only allow families, children, women, elderly and not allow young single men until we know that we can screen them with reasonable assurance. I think there is a common ground here. My family came from Ireland during war-torn times. I’ve known many people through my life who came seeking asylum from horrors during and after WWII. The ISIS ideology has turned into a network so some caution to be sure screening information is available is needed for the safety of our children and grandchildren as well. — Sherry

  16. I always enjoy your posts….but am very thankful for yours today…….



  17. I couldn’t agree more…as a mother and a teacher, I cannot fathom the choices that are being made – both by the refugees seeking safety for their babies, and by the politicians exhibiting fear mongering at its finest. Thank you for writing what has been in my heart. ~yaya

  18. Terri, we share these experiences intimately. When I became a mother, all changed, and I quite being able to watch the news on TV. Had to turn to reading, because watching was too much.

  19. Thank you for writing this! I can’t sleep at night with grief over these tragedies. Motherhood has only magnified my already highly empathetic heart.

    Sent from my iPhone


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