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More on the Refugees

John Oliver lays out the actual facts about the vetting process, and destroys the fearmongers in hilarious fashion.

Oliver nails the heart of the issue here. We should not allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. But there's no need for me to paraphrase, he says it all better than I could.



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Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Jacob May
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:36 pm (UTC)
It's kinda sad when a comedy show on HBO has more information and evidence than the actual news shows.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC)
The Daily Show was the best source of news in America for ages.
(no subject) - bastun_ie - Nov. 25th, 2015 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Andrew Billiter
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure which bothers me more: how reactionary our political discourse has become, or that comments that would have torpedoed someone's candidacy just an election cycle ago are now applauded.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:39 pm (UTC)
Keep fighting the good fight!
Making me proud you and my dad both come from Bayonne. I mean I already was because you're both awesome, but still.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC)
Are we still allowed to be ruled by Common Sense? Because none of these refugees have a 'right' to enter any of these nations, and if the citizens of those nations are fearful, I can't in good conscience blame them after the Paris attacks. Ultimately pushing this Feel Good narrative that we should open wide our doors is not wise, in my estimation, and I cringe guessing at what events might unfold across the holidays.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
Is anybody pushing that harrative though?

What I see in this video is pointing out that refugees are really vigirously vetted so the fearmongering about them not being is incorrect. Which seems a point worth making even if you're against letting refugees in.
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Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:42 pm (UTC)
The whole fearmongering thing really bothers me. "Home of the Brave" really rings hollow.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:43 pm (UTC)
We need to stop acting like refugees are a burden; after all, what would Westeros be without the Roynar?
Nov. 24th, 2015 07:32 am (UTC)
The Rhoynar were more open minded and more peaceful than their Andal and First men counterparts. Unfortunately the Rhoynar had only settled in Dorne.

The thing is most of the Syrian Refugees are not like the Rhoynar.
(no subject) - bastun_ie - Nov. 25th, 2015 09:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
Excellent! A great explanation!
Nov. 23rd, 2015 06:50 pm (UTC)
Meanwhile how many terrorist attacks have been conducted by angry white men with guns at schools and universities across the country...
Nov. 28th, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:25 pm (UTC)
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Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you Mr. Martin
I just realized that in germany (where I live) we have an almost equaly show, which I always thought was very original, but now I realized that it's just a ripoff of this show. In our version of the show they also talk about refugees (because it is a big problem in my country) but they never talk about the refugees taken to the USA. How many entered the country yet? Could someone please tell me?

PS: I just wanted to thank you, Mr. Martin (or may I call you George R.R. ;D) for sharing your opinion on refugees because you are a man who is adored by thousands of people (myself included) and it's just so great that you use your big influence to do good.
Nov. 24th, 2015 10:58 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you Mr. Martin
I would agree, that we in Germany have a few similar shows but I can't think of a show that is a real rip-off. Personally, I like extra3 the most, but Die Anstalt is also quite good.

The reason they never talk about refugees in the USA is, that the USA does not take Syrian refugees in any significant numbers. The USA has a contingent for resettlement of refugees, if that contingent is full for the year they don't take anyone else. 2013 - 2015 the contingent was always at 70,000 refugees a year.

Most of these admitted refugees came from Africa and South and East Asia, because post 9/11 the whole procedure became very difficult for those from the Middle East.

Even those who worked for the US army as translators and had a special programm, were unable to clear all security checks or simply didn't get the visa. (John Oliver did make a show about their plight a while ago, the video is on youtube). If you wonder what happened to these highly skilled translators that were promised safety in the US... they fled to Germany this summer.
(To be fair, Germany has also used translators and never promised them anything like resettlement. They are probably now also here as refugees... which is a good thing, we need them.)

The result of the US panic is this: 1,854 Syrian refugees have resettled in the USA.

Germany takes in more on a normal weekend.

More current information: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/21/us/where-syrian-refugees-are-in-the-united-states.html?_r=0
Germany and so on... - questron - Nov. 24th, 2015 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Duane Freese
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:26 pm (UTC)
The issue raised by Oliver actually is the length of the vetting process -- 18 to 24 months. The UN Refugee program has so far recommended approximately 23,000 Syrian refugees for relocation to the United States. Some Democrats have proposed because of the extent of the crisis that 65,000 be allowed in. They are part of a diaspora of 4.2 million. Most are fleeing not from ISIS but from bombardments by Assad's regime, according to the reports I've read. In the interim of the vetting process, some lawmakers have proposed setting up camps along the Turkish border with a protected no fly zone and UN humanitarian support.
While I hope that the US will deal with all refugees in a humane way, there does need to be some consideration for Christian and other religious sects, not because they are not Muslim but because they are being singled out for extermination. The genocide conventions would suggest they be given a high priority for that reason. In any event, factcheck.org has a good site for resolving some of the issues, which are serious. The best result would be to find a means of settling the civil war and returning people to their homes, as resettlement is an alternative sought by people because of the violence, not as an initial desire to be reassimilated elsewhere.
Nov. 24th, 2015 07:16 am (UTC)
Re: Refugees
You're right -- ideally we should be working to end the civil war in Syria.

Except that so far every single time we've interfered in Middle Eastern affairs since the end of World War I, we've managed to make things worse for us. It's not a problem *we* can, or should be, solving. We've proven that time and again.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
I think the most hilarious thing is that FOX news used a clip from a Block Buster Movie to illustrate real life!! I know a TON of people (with questionable intelligence) buy that stuff, but SERIOUSLY? No wonder there's a HUGE divide.
Adam Wing
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:35 pm (UTC)
I've been trying to find this video to re-post it but LWT has only posted the (admittedly funny and informative) penny segment on their Facebook page since last night. Thanks for locating it George!
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
Watched it all. He doesn't destroy anything.

They run background checks and your fingerprints through our databases. So yes, if you're a known terrorist who is so high profile that you've been entered into our systems, then you'll be flagged. We can concede that al-Baghdadi probably wouldn't come through. Do you imagine we have the names, photos and/or fingerprints of every one of the scores of thousands of ISIS fighters? No? Then the problem remains.

It's all a lot of confetti and flashing lights to distract from the central problem which remains unaddressed: no information exists on the vast majority of these refugees. All we can do is positively identify some terrorists, and everyone who isn't definitely a terrorist: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What's ironic is most people who mindlessly guffaw at this mediocre comedy because it flatters their preexisting ideological biases probably considers themselves "independent thinkers".
Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:11 pm (UTC)
"Mediocre comedy?" Wow. Humor impaired, are you?

More seriously... "innocent until proven guilty" is still a core value on our society. The screening is more than sufficient to screen out terrorists. One can prove guilt. One cannot prove innocence.
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Patrick Wagner
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC)
The Danger of Islam and the Refugees We Should Take (Two Parts)
George, I think that you are missing some of the main issues people in the U.S. have with letting large numbers of refugees (many, especially in Europe, seem to be opportunistic economic migrants) into this country, possible terrorists or not.

Before I talk about that, I just want to say I'm not a big fan of John Oliver, mainly because I don't appreciate a British citizen speaking as if he were American while retaining his citizenship to the U.K., but living in the U.S. I also think that while satirical news shows can be a source of enlightenment, they often use imperfect (like politicians, i.e. Huckabee) analogies to make a comedic point. I think many could argue that his Thanksgiving comparison has no value beyond humor. In fact, I would say if you want to look at Thanksgiving from the perspective of Native Americans, it is a great example of why we shouldn't allow refugees in. Now back to the point of this post...

First of all, Islam is fundamentally opposed to Western Democratic Ideals. The ideals (I'll limit myself to 3) that I think are the cornerstone of modern society are:

1. Freedom of Speech/Expression. We have heard story after story of authors/poets being condemned to death for living in Islamic majority countries who express opinions that counter Islamic teaching. This right is already under assault in our own country (look at the college protests that have recently sprung up) and we should not invite people who have known nothing but to oppose this right into our country. Please do not pretend that this is a value harbored by a small percentage of muslims, there are many polls taken from Islamic countries that show the majority of their population supports this censorship. I would also like to talk about their views on Apostasy that are so barbaric they would make a Scientologist blush. Look at what recently happened in the U.K. to the arabic man who renounced Islam and was subsequently attacked by a mob with pick axes and is now recovering in a hospital.

2. A Truly Secular Government. I put this second because I do not believe it can exist without first securing the right to Freedom of Speech/Expression. The United States is the best example of this, though we still have a long way to go to completely remove religion from our own political landscape. However, I am very thankful that we live in a time where we are quickly becoming more secular, and that can not be said about Muslim countries. Simply put, the end game of Islam is Sharia Law, all you need to do is look at the European countries with large numbers of recent muslim immigrants and you can already see their more bold members breaking the laws of their "foster country" in order to enforce their own laws. I say "foster" because often times they do not adopt the customs of the country they move to, but rather live within and in isolation. You may disagree with my opinion on this, but I do not want an influx of any people who adhere to a religion that view their religious laws and customs as above that of our own country.

Patrick Wagner
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:48 pm (UTC)
The Danger of Islam and the Refugees We Should Take (Two Parts)
3. The Empowerment of Women. It is important to remember how far we, as the U.S., has come on this issue in the last 115 years. I bring this up to highlight two points. The first is that we started, as a country, with some truly abhorrent views on women's rights by modern standards. However, thanks to the first two rights listed above, we have evolved as a society and have significantly benefitted from it, both economically and societally! We still have work to do in regards to empowering the women in the U.S. and other Western Democratic societies, but lets not pretend like we aren't extremely progressive in this arena. I hope I do not insult those with alternative sexual orientations (who would be killed in Islamic countries), but I believe their empowerment has come as a positive consequence of the empowerment of women, and I think any free thinking person would agree that this is good for our country as well. Now that I am done patting the U.S. on the back, I want to say that Islam is fundamentally opposed to this. Men control every aspect of their women's lives, and any attempt by women to liberate themselves results in their branding as a whore to western thought by their own community. Islamic apologists will cite various liberal Islamic countries and the limited freedoms that their women enjoy, but I would counter with looking at the majority of Islamic countries where women are treated as little more than property. This is completely incompatible with Western Democratic societies and will naturally lead to conflict.

This post is already too long, so I will do my best to be brief in my final thoughts. Islam makes the claim to be the final word of god, and that the Quran contains the answers to all of life's questions. This is already a call to violence against those that disagree with that belief, one that muslims seem all to eager to answer to. Another strike against Islam is this overly simple saying; not all muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims. While this may not be absolutely true, look up the list of designated terrorist groups and tell me you don't see a common theme.

The final point I want to make is that this is a numbers game. In America, we have relatively small muslim minority that, for the most part, could probably be described as liberal on the Islamic political spectrum. That means that there could be large numbers of that minority that have accepted Western Democratic society and live peacefully within and under protection of our ideals. However, within that population there are many that may privately feel otherwise, that right now only talk amongst themselves of the errors of our ways, and the changes they would make. I do not think that it is a stretch of the imagination to see these people becoming more vocal, and more prone to dangerously act on their thoughts if there were suddenly a large influx of like minded people who, at the very least, place some blame (rightfully so or not, this is a whole different debate) on our foreign policy.

I personally believe WE SHOULD STILL TAKE REFUGEES, but only from the ethnic/cultural groups that have been marginalized by the greater Islamic community. I would gladly accept Kurds, Yazidis, and other minorities that have been persecuted by ISIS, but otherwise I would turn them away. We should use our resources to help groups of people that have shown they truly want our help, not a population that is indifferent at best to our culture and values or at worst openly hostile towards them.

Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC)
As regards the issue of women, and their plight in many Islamic countries.

Would you not think it might be a good argument that the best way to empower many women would be to allow them to settle in Western countries where they will experience very different narratives with regards feminism and women's rights? And through that education, they will be inspired to set about changing things, both within their own communities here, and eventually back in their home nations?

So in this regard, accepting as many female refugees as possible should be the goal?
Response to gonzo21 - Patrick Wagner - Nov. 24th, 2015 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Response to gonzo21 - gonzo21 - Nov. 24th, 2015 04:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 23rd, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC)
It's weird, but I've often found myself in the situation of loving John Oliver's show while actually not finding it very funny. We don't share the same sense of humor, but yet that is far secondary to his being a muckraker in the finest American tradition (despite the whole 'being British' thing), uncovering the failures of our society while revealing bullshit for what it is, often discussing topics almost no one else in the media touches.

Suffice to say, despite not having HBO during that portion of the year when GAME OF THRONES isn't airing new episodes, I've made it a regular habit to watch the main segment on the Last Week Tonight YouTube channel every Monday morning.
Panagiotis Karachalios
Nov. 23rd, 2015 08:09 pm (UTC)
thanks mr Martin
Thank you very much! People should remember that 1/112 people in the world are immigrants
(Deleted comment)
Ian Castellanos Dupuy
Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you Mr Martin. (and many thanks to John Oliver too, although he probably won't read this)

I am a Parisian (lucky ? enough to not have been directly affected by the tragedy, although it is hard not to know someone who has when you live here). The attacks were terrible, but one of the things I fear the most right now is for nationalistic or even borderline islamophobic sentiments to rise (with for instance the Front National, a far right political party here in France). Sadly, some people use these events as a platform to spread their political views.
I believe the worst response we could have to this would be to forget our compassion and start locking ourselves up in fear. Responding to hate with more hate has never been a viable solution. We need not give them the satisfaction of having brought us down to their level.

That is why I am thankful for people like you who do not give up their fundamental values of compassion and sympathy in the face of adversity. I hope both the American and French people follow both your example and John Oliver's.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:58 pm (UTC)
When do we draw the line
I agree we you we should let them in, but many politicians who are in favor of letting refugees in our country are only in favor of letting a certain number of them in our country. When do we draw the line? (if at all) How do we chose who to accept and who not? why should one innocent person be in that certain number and not another?
Scott Sinisi
Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:15 pm (UTC)
Why shouldn't we be afraid of potentially allowing terrorists into the country?
Typically, in a war, one does not invite the enemy to come and live with them.
It's been confirmed that at least one of the Paris attackers was a Syrian refugee. There was the case in Greece of ISIS members using Syrian passports to attempt to gain entry to Europe. There is absolutely precedent for them to do this, and calling people who attempt to point this out "fearmongers" isn't helpful.

There are so many ways to help any genuine innocents beyond simply importing them en masse to our own doorstep.
Nov. 24th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC)
Re: Fear?
Have you READ any of the three hundred previous comments on my first post about this subject?

If so, why are repeating all these falsehoods.

No one is allowing in terrorists. We are talking about refugees.

It has NOT been confirmed that one of the Paris attackers was a Syrian refugee. That has been disproved.

Stop parroting right-wing talking points, and deal with facts.

"Fear is the mindkiller," as it says in DUNE.
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Nov. 23rd, 2015 11:47 pm (UTC)
George, HBO is already spoiling stuff from season 6, can't you give us a small update on your progress? Just a "I'm almost done" or not, so we can adjust our expectations accordingly.
Tanmay Kulkarni
Nov. 24th, 2015 02:38 am (UTC)
George, please. A humble request. I know you will say as always: I'll announce it here when it's done.
But instead of clinging on to roumors from worthless articles on numerous websites, we'd love to hear something authentic directly from you. It'll help us manage our expectations. It's the not knowing that's so tough to handle, not that the book may take another year or two to come out. Or maybe more. Who knows? Only you. Just a quick update if it please you m'lord.
Re: Seconded - grrm - Dec. 2nd, 2015 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 24th, 2015 12:42 am (UTC)
If the right-wing types are so devoted to security and safety, why do they support the NRA's position on allowing suspected terrorists to buy guns here? The NRA actively opposes any legislation which would prohibit people on the FBI's terrorist watchlist from buying guns. These are people who are prohibited by law from getting on an airplane, but the NRA says that they should be allowed to buy guns because they are only suspected terrorists, not convicted. This NRA position is supported wholeheartedly by the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress, proven in many failed attempts to get such legislation passed. Since 9/11 there have been documented cases of people on the terrorist watch list buying guns from dealers in the USA - over 2000 of them succeeded in buying guns, legally. And yet, the same politicians and right-wingers are fearful of Syrian women and children who have to go through the most comprehensive screening process of any of the various ways to enter this country?

Hypocrisy. As always, it isn't about safety and security. It's just an excuse for backdoor racism and bigotry to please the modern equivalent of the 19th century's Know Nothing Party.
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