Putting Syria into US terms: No, you wouldn’t stay and fight

Washington, DC (TFC) – The new anti-refugee propaganda is that the refugees shouldn’t be fleeing their homeland at all. They should stay and fight. Many are self-aggrandizing themselves on social media claiming they would stay and fight for their country. If it was only them, they would face down the obstacles. Insurance adjusters, bank managers, real estate developers, fry cooks, and dog walkers across the western world are on social media proclaiming their military and survival prowess. Most are men who could not survive without Walmart and McDonald’s, yet they are suddenly capable of amazing feats of survival and combat that would make Audie Murphy proud.

Yes, suddenly thousands of American men, most of whom can’t find Syria on a map and don’t have any idea about the differing forces in the conflict, are perfectly capable of battling insurgent groups that have been engaged in active warfare for more than a decade. They can avoid the barrel bombs and forced conscription while navigating the politics of ever-shifting alliances. They can avoid US air strikes, Israeli air strikes, Turkish air strikes, Syrian air strikes, and (coming soon) Russian air strikes. They can successfully mount an offensive against groups of 30-year-old men who have been fighting since they were teenagers. The best part is that they can do this while they feed, clothe, obtain fresh water, provide medical care, and shelter their family.

It’s impossible for most people to empathize with the refugees because it is impossible for most Americans to comprehend what they have been dealing with since the United States and its allies decided to help in the destabilization of their country. To help put it in focus, we’ll  make the statistics relevant to the US. If the same scenario happened in the US, Chicago is leveled. Houston isn’t much better. New York City’s entire east side is destroyed. It’s been called the “worst place in the world” by The Guardian. The list of devastated cities is endless. There are about 100 million people that are now homeless and internally displaced within the borders of the US; about 50 million have fled to other countries. The official death toll is over 3 million. The slave trade has grown so quickly that nobody has an accurate estimate, but it’s known that at least 35,000 young girls from a minority ethnic group are up for auction. The going rate for a teenage sex slave is probably less than your last bar tab. Your government is incapable of doing anything. An alliance of the most powerful countries in the world has systematically armed the most brutal of the factions. The recognized government doesn’t represent you.

The numbers are so big that it’s almost impossible to comprehend. The worst part is that those are the real numbers. We took those in each class, converted them to a percentage of the Syrian population, and then applied those percentages to the US population. That is the scale of the devastation. It isn’t hyperbole.

So this morning as you make sure your tie is straight and you double check the length of cuff you are showing, look in the mirror and think about how long it has been since you were in a fist fight. Now imagine being in a fight to death. As you kiss your kids goodbye, take a good look at your daughter. Are you going to be held at gunpoint while you watch her be gangraped just so you can satisfy some need to display your masculinity? Or pimp her out to obtain food? When you climb into your Camry to pick up coffee and donuts on the way to work, ask yourself if you could really find food and water in the middle of a war zone.

Americans look at Hurricane Katrina as an example of a horrendous event. How do you think you would react if it was raining bombs and artillery shells instead of water? A stroll through the 9th Ward would look like Disneyland in comparison to Syria. A little more than 1800 people died because of Katrina. A Syrian-style event here would take 3 million lives. People complained about a delay of a few days before relief efforts truly got underway. The Syrians have been waiting for years. The major powers just make sure the warring factions have weapons with which to kill each other.

So before you post your self-righteous comment about what you would do if you were them, understand that you don’t have a clue what you would do. Maybe an easier way to drive the point home is that the death toll would exceed the military deaths the United States has sustained in war. Which war? All of them. Ever. The number is actually closer to three times the number of US KIAs in every war fought in the history of the country to include both sides of the Civil War.

Syrian war. Image Source: Freedom House, Flickr, Creative Commons

Syrian war.
Image Source: Freedom House, Flickr, Creative Commons

Don’t worry though, you’d be ok because you’re a “real man” and you’ve played lots of Call of Duty. I consider myself a pretty resourceful guy. I’m better trained than most. I can tell you without hesitation or shame that if what is occurring in Syria was happening in the United States, I would be burning so much rubber on my way to Canada that the crew of the International Space Station could track my progress by looking out their window and following the plumes of smoke. Untrained people that are fleeing a war zone aren’t cowardly. They’re smart. They don’t have the luxury of of ideology because they have families. Contrary to fear-mongering photos spewed by western media, 38.5% of the refugees are children under the age of 11. They aren’t “mostly male.” Even if they were male, most aren’t soldiers.

Statistically speaking, untrained people who decide to engage in combat do one thing really well: die.