Friday, February 12, 2016

Podcast of the Week (2/6 - 2/13, 2016) NPR's Intelligence Squared Debate: "Should the U.S. let in 100,000 Syrian Refugees?"

Intelligence Squared is one of my favorite podcasts. Two teams of experts hash it out and answer questions before a live audience who votes on the question before and after the debate. Whichever team moves the needle the most to their side, wins.
In this episode, Amb. Robert Ford, the last US Ambassador to Syria (who resigned over disagreement with the Obama Administration's Syria policy), and David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee argue for the motion.
David Frum, who I otherwise have great respect for, argues against the motion alongside Jessica Vaughan, who seems to be a conservative working on immigration and crime. Interestingly, Vaughan was once a Foreign Service Officer, so you have two former State Department employees on opposite sides.

Spoiler alert, much to my joy, Ford and Miliband win by a large margin. Frum and Vaughan's arguments are rather weak, focusing on the relatively small cost to the localities who receive the refugees and raise some red herrings about terrorism. I encourage you to listen to the debate and think for yourself.

I'm reminded of an email I got this week from some friends who work with refugees in a country greatly affected. They've been stateside for several months and do some public speaking in their travels. They're getting an increasing amount of questions that, basically, are asked out of fear:

"Do you think terrorists are disguising themselves as refugees in order to enter the US?"
"Do you think Islamic governments are deliberating sending Muslim families to the West in order to populate them with Muslims?"
"Aren't refugees mostly young men?"
"Isn't 'real Quranic Islam' militant rather than peaceful?"

I like their preferred response, taken from the article they link to:

"While we shouldn’t downplay these concerns, I do wonder what would happen if Christians stood counter to American culture on this issue, by asking fundamentally different questions. What if, while America was asking questions about safety and risk management, Christians were asking, What is God doing? What if, through the senseless evil of civil war, God was bringing unreached people groups to our cities? What if, through great tragedy, God was bringing about the triumph of the gospel?"  -David Crabb  
Here is the full article (it's really good!):

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