September 18th, 2019


Max’s View

Salam Neighbor
A year ago, serious immigration reform wasn’t even a topic of conversation. Now, to the horror of the political establishment, it is a top issue for many voters.

Both political parties are on the exact same side of the immigration debate. Democrats are in favor of unlimited immigration. And Republicans are in favor of unlimited immigration, only they accuse Democrats of favoring “amnesty” so that they look tough.

When the will of the people is wildly different than the actions of the political establishment, no leader is safe.

Just ask Angela Merkel. On paper, she has been a terrific Chancellor. Germany’s economy is strong. The country’s middle class is as large and comfortable as ever. But she will lose power next election; entirely due to her record on immigration.

Merkel is a consistent advocate of the EU and its open-border policy. But the Chancellor really erred when she announced that all Syrian refugees are welcome in Germany. A year later, Germany is experiencing as much violence as any year since 1945. In the US, we suffer through terrorist attacks a few times a year. In Germany, it is more like twice a month, with new stories of refugees harassing German women published every day.

And this isn’t just Germany’s problem. As the war in Syria rages on, more and more people flee their homes. And, not surprisingly, fewer and fewer countries are willing to take them in. Many end up in refugee camps.

“Salam Neighbor” introduces us to a world we will never experience: a UN refugee camp. The film takes place in Za’atari. It is in Jordan. It’s just a few miles away from Syria. But it is its own little world. It is a tent city split up into eight districts. It is home to 85,000 people. Way more people than central Vermont.

The neat thing about the movie is that documentarians Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci don’t just tell us about Za’atari; they set up a tent and actually live there for a month.

The first day at the refugee camp does not go smoothly for Chis and Zach. First, the camp authorities tell them that it is too dangerous for them to sleep there so the Americans have to go to a nearby city every night. Second, a furious Syrian confronts Chris and Zach and accuses them of filming and/or stealing his women.

Eventually, the filmmakers settle down, have a happy month, and make several friends. But, conspicuously, none of their friends are female. The Americans never comment on it, but the movie certainly gives impression that Syrian women are the property and/or prisoners of their male relatives.

I am a moral relativist and I am committed to a lifestyle of non-judgement of others. There is a part of me that refuses to declare that our culture of equality is better than their culture of subjugation. However, I do feel strongly that they need to keep their misogynistic nonsense out of the United States. That is not welcome here.

Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci are not unbiased observers. They are filmmakers with an agenda. The conclusion they want you to draw is that the refugees are just like us and we should eagerly invite them in. But I wasn’t convinced. There are real and serious consequences from letting too many strangers into your country. Just ask Angela Merkel.

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