My last post was a couple weeks ago, before ISIS began decapitating Catholic American reporters, before the Christians of Northern Iraq began arming themselves and before the United States began mulling an international coalition to take on ISIS and one prospective ally stated that, sooner or later, ISIS must be defeated on the battlefield.
I mentioned in my last post that merely getting Iraqi Christians out of immediate harm was not enough. More needed to be done. In an interview with Huffington Post, Catholic Relief Service’s director on the ground in Iraq said as much, pointing out the issue now is the long-term, “how do we accompany these populations to help them rebuild?”
As 21st Century Americans, we tend to have a hands-off approach to these types of crises. Too late to Yugoslavia and Rwanda, “we” “helped” in Kosovo by watching NATO bomb Serbs set on ethnically cleansing Albanians from Kosovo. Yet millions have fled Syria in the fighting there, including children forced to march miles across a desert without anyone to guide them.
I’m not calling for us to take up arms against ISIS, but trying to make people aware. We cannot protect our brothers and sisters in Iraq from those who long to kill them for the creed they profess. Nor can the failed government we propped up and then ditched. But we can protect them within our borders, and the question needs to be, why aren’t we? We have the capacity to resettle and help these people rebuild.
I realize that taking people from their own country to another is a last resort, yet it needs to be considered. It will take political will and legal changes, but why can’t we bring our persecuted brothers and sisters here to our shores?
Much has been made of the city of Detroit’s rapid downfall. Abandoned homes and ruined warehouses stand were lives were once lived with promise and businesses thrived. Detroit is also attempting to comeback from the darkness, trying to attract new families and Detroit is home to a large community of Chaldean Catholics from Northern Iraq. There is room for growth in old Detroit and a cultural community already exists, are we unable to help spur growth within Detroit and provide a place where people can rebuild their lives there?
In stark opposition to the vacancies of Detroit is the booming economy and of North Dakota – with 25,000 current job openings and 2% unemployment in the state. Though North Dakota is struggling to develop and maintain the infrastructure necessary for its largest expansion since statehood, there simply aren’t enough people for the jobs in North Dakota. The homogeneous culture here may be the hardest thing to overcome – I visited with a friend yesterday who said, “yeah, but we don’t want those people here.” Seeking long-term laborers, North Dakota hasn’t been too picky about who’s been working here and when it could help alleviate a humanitarian crisis, we should do what we can to open our doors.
I realize political and legal mountains need to be moved, but given our responsibility to these people, we need to start thinking of ways to welcome our homeless and abandoned brothers and sisters here, and soon. If not us, then who?
Pray for the Christians of Iraq.