Friday, September 10, 2021

Bringing in Afghan Refugees with All of Their ‘Luggage’: What's Not Being Talked About

Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban and American forces are withdrawing. As with such ventures, this has resulted in tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing their own country. And as night follows day, this has also resulted in calls by many American individuals and organizations to bring in as many of those refugees as possible, because we “owe” it to the Afghans.
To hear such claims, one would think that these many thousands of refugees will immediately become part of America, sharing our values and ideas, and contributing to our communities.
What is not being talked about are the values, ideas, and culture those refugees are bringing with them.
In order to better understand the people many are calling to be brought in by the tens of thousands, let’s look at some considerations about the society from which these refugees are coming.
National Security
There are two national security issues that must be acknowledged.
First, a 2019 study found that 13% of Afghans had a lot of (4%) or a little (9%) sympathy for the Taliban.[1] This means that for every 100,000 Afghan refugees brought into the United States, we could expect about 13,000 of them to have varying degrees of sympathy for the Taliban.
Then we need to take into consideration that 39% of Afghans think that “suicide bombing” in defense of Islam is often or sometimes justified.[2] If we use the 4% number for those with a lot of sympathy for the Taliban, this means that out of every 100,000 Afghans we could have up to about 1,560 Afghans believing that “suicide bombing” could often be justified.[3]
Combining these two issues means we could be bringing in a potentially significant base of support for a jihadist group; and that base of support could include a large number willing to engage in jihadist attacks in the United States using explosives.
History of Violence
Then there is Afghanistan’s violent history. What is the impact of this history on many of those refugees we are bringing in? Consider this 2018 article:
…Afghanistan is home to nearly two generations that have grown up knowing only conflict and war. As a result, violent and aggressive behavior—particularly from young men—has become an accepted norm of Afghan society…a significant number of Afghan youth have become involved in organized crime or other illegal—and often violent—activities to fulfill their perceived obligations and duties to family…In many parts of Afghanistan, displays of aggression and intimidation represent a rite of passage for adolescent boys and a symbol of manhood for men. The social acceptance of such behavior, however, heightens the risk that intolerance of diversity and interpersonal violence, including violence against women and children, become an everyday fact of life. A 2009 report…described violence as “an everyday occurrence in the lives of a huge proportion of Afghan women.”…a majority of Afghans are exposed to violence beginning at an early age, including physical abuse at home by parents and relatives as well as the liberal use of corporal punishment at mosques, madrassas, and schools. Children witness their mothers and sisters being violently abused at the hands of family members, which comes to be accepted as a social and cultural norm, resulting in the acceptance of violence as a first—and sometimes only—option for resolving conflicts.[4]
We are importing from a culture of violence.
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