Many called last week’s deadly terror strikes in Paris an attack on all of humanity. That much is true. Let us not forget our own humanity in the aftermath.
There is hardly anything more ghastly and repugnant than a well-placed terror assault. Those who lived in London in the 1970s saw firsthand the way fear could gain a grip as the Irish Republican Army carried out bombings against British targets. The terrorists, who lacked political power and therefore resorted to terrifying murders, were lashing out at England for sending troops to pacify Northern Ireland.
Visitors to London in that era learned a wariness from bomb blasts in public places. A brief case or backpack left too long unattended was often reason to alert a policeman. Other European countries have weathered terror attacks as well and kept their wits.
Israelis also have known that kind of apprehension for decades because of bombings and other attacks carried out by radicalized Palestinians.
We can be grateful that terrorism took longer to set off fears on American soil – starting in the 1990s.
But with that delay, we’ve put off learning some skills as a society. In the aftermath of the 2001 jihadist attacks on U.S. soil we initially held it together – showing resolve, restraint, vigilance, and purposeful action with a military assault against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Our nation faced fear and resisted most urges to act rashly – until our leaders sent soldiers to invade and occupy Iraq.
After shootings and bombings killed at least 129 in Paris, our nation of immigrants must not now lose its mind over Muslim refugees from Syria.
We should remember that our state was a leader in the mid-1970s when it accepted thousands of refugees fleeing Vietnam.
We must remember that our state was a follower – giving in to fear, suspicion, and hate – in the 1940s when our government rounded up Japanese residents from Bainbridge Island, truck farms in King County and other communities.
After Paris, prominent U.S. politicians – and over half of our country’s governors – now say they don’t want any Syrian refugees placed in their states.
Never mind that coordinators of the Paris attacks appear to have been European residents, not Syrian refugees.
Thankfully, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is standing taller. Inslee has said Syrian political refugees who get through immigration vetting can settle here. Those who know history recognize that Inslee is living by our better values.
Whether we call it Islamic State, Daesh or ISIL, the jihadist terror network that hit Paris, Beirut and a Russian jetliner downed over the Sinai in Egypt is striking out against the world’s powers. The highly dangerous force has eyes on our lands.
This threat calls for methodical, thoughtful steps by our government and its military arm. It means careful vetting of immigrants, especially refugees from Syria. It means reinforcing coalitions to act in Syria and the Middle East.
These are better steps than panic and political calls to shut out refugees solely because they may be Muslims.