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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Why Syria, Why now?..." 'Brian Gray' (Special to Dakinetalk)

We are delighted to feature our newest guest-blogger Mr. Brian Gray.The enclosed is one  of the best essays I have ever seen on the current Syrian  refugee situation! 

Brian Gray has been a Kauai resident for nearly 20 years.  He supervises an adolescent substance abuse treatment program by day and runs an inmate transition / re-integration program called Live Again the Walk Inc. and Gray Hope Productions a local grassroots video production company with his wife Cathy.  Other interests include hiking Kauai trails and supporting The City of Refuge, a self sustaining prototype orphanage located in Comayagua Honduras.

Why Syria, Why now? 

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Syrian Refugee Crisis specifically revolving around comments made by Governor Ige's willingness to welcome Syrian refugees.  The public is clearly divided on this issue and myths and logical fallacies abound.  I thought I’d address a few of the frequently recurring motifs I’ve encountered personally.

1.     The Syrian refugee situation is a mirror of what happened to Jews during the Holocaust.  The fact that two things share something in common does not make them the same. Elephants have four legs and dogs have four legs.  That does not mean that all dogs are elephants. The Jews were a minority persecuted in a foreign land.  There were no Jewish countries to which they could flee. The Syrians are predominantly Muslim and there are multiple Islamic nations one of which, namely Saudi Arabia, borders Syria and has somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 empty Air-conditioned tents ready to go.  In addition there was an unholy alliance between the Third Reich and Radical Jihadists during WWII. Correct me if I am wrong  but the majority of people who have and do want the Jews and Israel expunged from the earth are Muslim.   I also never heard of a Jewish person threatening to overwhelm western society via mass murder, mass immigration and an exponential birth rate.

2.     Steve Jobs's father was Syrian. Barring Syrian refugees could deprive our nation of the next Steve Jobs.  There were a lot of factors that culminated in Steve Jobs becoming the founder of Apple. Steve Jobs also did not finish college.  According to this line of reasoning quitting school might be a key to success as well.  The argument is absurd.

3.     The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst crisis since WWII.  Really?  What about the Genocide in Rawanda, the Congo and Sudan and now Kenya and Nigeria?  What about the million plus people we killed in Iraq because 19 Saudi Arabians flew a plane into the World Trade Center?  What about the Afghan women, Yazidis, Kurds and Christians? What about the line in the sand when Assad  allegedly used nerve gas on his own people.  How about the women and girls kidnapped and forced into to sexual slavery on a daily basis by the Boko Haram? 

4.     The refugees are pre-dominantly Muslim because Muslims are the ones being persecuted. 
Christians are by far the most persecuted group of people in the Middle East and the world yet they are given last priority by our president under the guise of avoiding discrimination. Christians are even persecuted within refugee camps provided they are not murdered like the 12 recently thrown overboard and drowned by their Muslim counterparts allegedly because they were not praying to Allah. Are the 15 Muslims involved in this murder representative of all Muslims?  Or were there 15 radical Jihadists mixed in with the majority of moderates who apparently did nothing to stop their brethren?  Forgive me. That comment was patently sexist.  Radical Muslim women kill people too. 

5.     Our strict immigration laws will protect us and any refugees that come here will be thoroughly vetted. Really?  How do you explain what is happening on our southern border?  The FBI says it is currently impossible to vet the Syrians since we have no access to records and documents they do have are often forged.   “But the president said they are using bio-metrics.” Yippee!.  Now we can identify the nut jobs regardless of how many pieces are left after the bomb goes off.

Let’s face it. Daily life is rooted in probabilities not absolutes.  This is true whether you are crossing the street, trading a stock or deciding if you should bring a Syrian Refugee into your home. All we can really do is weigh the risks versus the rewards and make decisions based on the highest probability of success. 

Here is what we know.
1.    We know the refugees need help.  We know there are radical jihadists embedded with the refugees.  We know they kill people. We know they repeatedly say want to kill us.  We don’t know how many there are. Some say it’s probably around 4000.  Actually we don’t know how many.
2.     We know multiple radical clerics have publicly stated goals to dominate the west via the aforementioned radical means. 
3.     We know that current and former generals and heads of agencies like the FBI and DHS are saying we are in danger.  We don’t know how serious that threat is but if past performance is indicative of future results the risk just might be a little higher than they think.
4.     Some statistics show the majority of refugees as being widows and orphans.  Others show 80% are men between the ages of 18-25. People argue the point along partisan lines and have faith in corresponding partisan sources.  Having faith in a given source is called believing.  Believing and knowing are not the same. It is impossible to know which if any statistic is correct.
5.     The first responsibility we have as adults making decisions that affect our island(s) is to ask ourselves if those decisions improve, preserve and ensure the safety and well-being of our community.  Our elected officials are supposed to make decisions that reflect the sentiments of the communities that elected them to office. Tulsi Gabbard is doing just that.  President Obama not so much.

Maybe you think the risk of radical Syrian Jihadists detonating themselves in Kukui Grove on a Friday night is nil.  Maybe I think your analysis is jaded by normalcy and confirmation bias. Only an idiot or a truly intellectually dishonest person would say there is no risk at all. To which I say, given the fact that those within  and those associated with the Radical Syrian Muslim demographic have killed scores of people in Europe, have plans to kill people now and have threatened to kill us in the future; how  exactly do we determine the risk? Assuming we can, then just how much risk is acceptable?  Finally what exactly is the payoff that justifies the risk that we as a community agree to assume?  Call me crazy but I think we should keep that risk as close to zero as possible then work from a position of strength to help the Syrians where they are.  The last time I checked Kauai doesn’t even have a Mosque and Saudi Arabia recently offered to build thousands. The whole situation as it stands makes no sense to me.  That's why I ask; Why Syria?  Why now?

Check out  James "Kimo" Rosen's  opinion article (LTE) in today's (12-01-15) 'The Garden Island News;"
"This a different world now..."

Hana Hou, (Encore) Shared From Facebook...
Showing both sides;


Carrie Lavigne said...


Carrie said...

Absolutely a great article! Ditto goes for us in California!

Rick Comstock said...

Total disagree with this and the blog as it is progressing. Might as well start listening to Andy Pratt. Sorry, The blog does not fit any vision statement about satirical, funny, heart warming or humorous. We all have a choice and personal motifs is a failure, and not a blog I signed up for.

Chester "Unc" Lau said...

Love it,great writing :-D

Kit Ellison said...

He does make his point very clear and quite rational. There doesn't seem to be a anti refugee message but only one of caution on what to do. A look-before-you-leap message. He makes a good deal of sense. Thank you for sharing another view.

Sent from my iPhone

Bettejo Dux said...

Sigh. Thank you, Brian. This is such a mess, it almost makes my headache and I don't get headaches. Can't we bring in women and little kids? Seniors? Yeah, we can, but how are we going to feed them? House them? The women and the children--and the seniors-- probably are not seeking employment. Maybe the wealthiest members of our society--the one per centers--could house them on their vast estates and empty penthouses and retreats? Yeah, I can see it now. The Waltons will feed and house hundreds. Cheney and Bush, too. It's simply nuts. I can't even think of an answer to this problem on which we could moderate.
My thinking is sometimes very radical. Other times I'm torn with concern about other human beings. Innocent kids and women and older people seeking refuge is heartbreaking.

Rosemary Pahl-Palmer said...

A very good and well written blog. I agree with his Logic. Thanks Kimo!

Brian Gray said...

Thanks everyone for the feed back. Here is a link to a short video that might help clarify the difference between methods that feel right but don't actually help and solutions that have some hope of being effective in the long term.


My wife and I are already active in Lahore Pakistan and Comayagua Honduras. The operative philosophical principal is that it is better to teach person to fish than to simply give them a fish. We are exploring ways to help victims of an ongoing insurgency with a potential of becoming a world war. Feel free to contact us at biblesforpakistan.com with questions or ideas.

Mahalo and God Bless

Peter Antonson said...

It's nice to create an illusion that you're on the side of safety; not on the side of religious and racial bigotry; but, let's put that celebration on pause. Mr. Gray invokes the 80% male boogeyman. Actually, it's 72% of the "boatpeople" headed to Europe; but, why quibble? It just shows that Mr. Gray doesn't know enough about this issue
to tell the difference between European refugees and those that can apply for USA refugee status! The 10k from Syria that will be invited to apply for entry into the USA are part of the 4 million registered in UN refugee camps in 5 different countries. These are 49.7% male (22% between 18 and 59) and 50.3% Female. 51% of the total are children under age 18. The UN started a vetting a few years ago. Of these, 18k were submitted to the US
State Dept. After an average of 18 to 24 months, the US only approved 10k applications. only 1k have been placed.
That takes a year or two longer. During the 18-24 mos. they were grilled (in the camps) by teams from the State Dept., FBI, Defense
Dept., Homeland Security, and the Pentagon (which added a special action plan for Syrians they won't reveal).
Let's give our terrorist the benefit of a smidge of common sense. Would you try for a visa, or illegal entry, or try the hardest possible way, as a refugee, where the tiniest slip with any one of those 5 agencies would land you in Gitmo prison?
When you watched the movie "Schindler's List," you were faced with the question: "Would I risk my safety, as he did, for the sake of humanity?" Or, would you oppose Mr. Schindler, even turn him and his charges in, because they were a risk to you? Schindler faced a tangible risk; not a remote possibility! Yes, it is absolutely relevant to the current situation! You are either Schindler or you have stepped over to the dark side! Mr. Gray laments Representative
Democracy. He wants the mob to get it's way! It's looks like, thanks to the US Senate, that's not going to happen. So now, a "Shut down the government" alternative may be tried to block the refugees. Are you ready to go there for the dark side? After all: "Ask not what the side of religious and racial bigotry can do for you; ask what you can do for the side of religious and racial bigotry!"

Brian Gray said...

Thanks for viewpoint Pete. I'd love to here your ideas on how we can help the Syrians here on Kauai. However, I also think you should go back read what I wrote. Are you sure you are responding to the right guy? It appears that you cherry picked and took much of what I said out of context then formed or rather projected an opinion of me. A quick Google search "sharyl attkisson astroturf" will yield a myriad of better explanations than I could possibly hope to provide regarding this type of response. Granted this is a very emotionally charged issue and I go back and forth on it myself. However, I didn't take a side in but addressed the logical fallacies such as "appeal to emotion" that have a way of driving public opinion. You obviously didn't read what my thoughts on statistics. I have no way of verifying their accuracy and quite frankly neither do you. You have a faith and a belief in a source and a very emotionally charged opinion. All we know for certain is that that neither of us knows. Realize it or not, your response actually supports my underlying point. We have a severe shortage of sound critical thinking in our society that is driving public policy. There are a lot of competing agendas on the global stage right now. I've seen the UN numbers. Frankly I don't trust UN numbers or the UN agenda. I don't know why you would. But you are free to do so if you wish. In the mean time why don't you answer this: Why hasn't Saudi Arabia taken one Syrian in? Why haven't we put pressure on them to do so? But first watch this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE then answer Why Syria? Why now? I'm looking for ways to help. I'll surely let you know what I come up with and like I said, I'd love to hear what you are going to do yourself.

Anonymous said...


Pete Antonson said...

My stats are from the UN Nov. 17, 2015 report on their own camps: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php you got something better...BRING IT! You reported on the European boatpeople refugees...they're not coming to the USA! My other info on vettin came from the US State Dept. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ you got something better...BRING IT! You are aiding and abetting the side of religious and racial bigotry. You are throwing gasoline on the fearmongering fire. I do not thank you!

Brian Gray said...

AstroTurf. God Bless:-)

Pete Antonson said...

Hooray, you have a trite little phrase to throw at anyone who points out that you are talking about the European refugees instead of the ones that are going to come (and they will!) to the USA or that you're debunking a collection of small points, like Steve Jobs' father, that nobody cares about, or that you think YOUTUBE is some kind of bonafide source for information; which it isn't. Now if "astroturf" was coming from Noam Chomsky, you'd be on to something; but, Sharyl Attkisson is about a million miles away from an established linguistic tenant; so mark me unimpressed!

Brian Gray said...

Just realized you don't live on Kauai. Good by Pete.

Pete Antonson said...

Well, Mr. Grey ran away like a sniveling coward and deleted his replies. You can probably tell what those replies where by my follow ups. He gave the "all sources are equal" defense, called my post "astroturf" (some new term the kids are using today), and actually cited YOUTUBE to someone trained in scientific research! Folks, never, ever, cite YOUTUBE!

KimoRosen said...

Along the same lines, here is my opinion article that appeared in today's Garden Island News;

This a different world now
I would like the opportunity to defend my letter (“Welcoming refugees not a good idea,” Nov. 18, TGI) that JB Foucault wrote titled; “Don’t turn back on refugees” (TGI, Nov. 19).
I am not turning my back on refugees. I stated, “send them to a state with a low cost of living and jobs. Hawaii is the most expensive state, very few jobs and has some of the worst traffic congestion in America.”
What many are missing is this is a different world now. Never before had the enemy promised to send terrorists amongst the refugees.
It’s like a bar or restaurant having a capacity limit for safety. Too many people in a bar and a fire erupts could cause panic and people could kill each other. Too many people on a multiple floor dwelling could collapse the floor and the people below would also suffer.
America is no longer in its infancy. I realize most of our ancestors are all from somewhere else. However, our grandparents’ countries of origins were not threatening to send terrorist amongst the innocent and we were not overpopulated then.
Right now, it’s like the restaurant has reached its capacity. Do we let more people in while jeopardizing the safety of those here?
There are Arab countries close to Syria that also have many of the same belief systems, why are they not welcome there?
A Bob Dylan song comes to mind, “These times they are changing.”
James “Kimo” Rosen


Pete Antonson said...

First, "it’s like the restaurant has reached its capacity" Here's an exercise to allay those fears: Head East of L.A. on Interstate 10 all the way to San Antonio. Head North all the way to Des Moines, Iowa on Interstate 35. Turn West on Interstate 80 and go all the way to Sacramento, CA. Head South on Interstate 5 back to L.A. Then we'll talk about America being "overcrowded!" BTW, Kauai will be overcrowded when the grocery line is 15 rather than 2! Second, is Saudi Arabia doing something wrong in not taking refugees. If you say "yes" then your position is equally wrong and you're stuck with a "2 wrongs make a right" argument! The more serious point is that we should do the right thing no matter what other countries do! Other countries don't eat beef; why would that matter to us? Third, what if India one day said they would send terrorists if we didn't stop eating beef? Would you make it really hard for them to try, or would you cave in to the terrorist threat and become a vegetarian?

Jaspn Gray said...

Creepy smile

Rick Comstock said...

I just can't agree more with Pete, the position he takes. And by all means Pete you don't need my support. You know Kauai like I know the trip you pointed (mapped) out. More than one dog can eat from this bowl without fear.

Rick Comstock said...

Finished watching Brians 'You Tube' found it full of B.S. most comments disagrees.... but morally lack.....NOT Poverty but end of life decisions are being made....People are not 'gum balls'.. review the fictional book and recite more scriptures that tell you to turn your back on the needy, the persecuted.

Brian Gray said...

Wonderful feedback Rick. You have a different view point. It is obvious that you also have more experience with helping the less fortunate than I do Did I recite scriptures? I don't think I did. Maybe I did. I'm just so darn confused. Maybe I'm just dumb. I would so greatly appreciate it if you could describe what steps are you actively taking to provide these people or anyone who is less fortunate assistance? I really want to understand and I would be honored to learn from someone who is so much wiser and more experienced than I.

Rick Comstock said...

As I read your timeline the blog 'IMO' does not follow your connection with the so called 'Big Book'....just thinking we should follow our beliefs and moral values more than what is blogged. And yes my tax dollars / support for our nations values without discrimination / give my services and assistance here on the island to friends less fortunate.... As for your continue degradation with astro-turf and 'more experience' is only being passive aggressive and intolerant of non-supporting criticism. Many call thin skinned.... So thinking with my thin skin. Just how are you helping people in Honduras etc. from your easy chair on the north shore ? Number one rule when people knock at front door is to make a statement then ask them with a questions in order continue the conversation (foot in door) making sure to underline with your own preconceived passive - aggressive one liners. Then feel good when you walk away....Thanks Pete for calling a spade a spade...IMO

Brian Gray said...

Well let's see I guess we could argue about who is more passive aggressive ad infinitum I won't and my response here is actually more for the sake of others. I never asked your opinion in the first place. But please continue if you must. As for my time line, it is a more a case of me thinking out loud and inviting others to engage in the process.
My OPED on the other hand is a tentative conclusion based on my thinking and sometimes debating with people like yourself.

I don't own an easy chair and I don't live on the north shore. As for what I do. By day I supervise a substance abuse treatment program. I'd be curious to know your stand on the adolescent treatment facility here on Kauai.
My wife and I have been living with between 3-5 inmates, addicts and or their children for over a decade as a part of a reintegration program we started that places public safety above pity for an individual.
In Honduras we support both financially and via our video production company a grass roots self sustaining prototype orphanage in Comayagua. The idea is to raise and educate Honduran children so that they can become the leaders that support the economic prosperity and growth Hondurans in the future. One of the first orphans Adrianna, is currently studying pre med. We have been involved since 2005 when I first saw a child eating decaying chicken parts out of a garbage bag we had just thrown away in dump there.
We also started a web site called Biblesforpakistan.com in support of a small church in Lahore. They are currently focused on rescuing families both Muslim and Christian alike from a form of indenturment commonly known as brick kiln slavery. You can see their most recent endeavor on our timeline.
As for my skin thickness: I am a former US Marine.
I regard your passive aggressive shots and any Astro Turf people want to throw my way with amusement. I have no feelings of malice toward you or anyone else. As for your friend Pete he was previously identified as a troll. I've already learned it is pointless to engage with trolls. I'm still not certain about you.
Pakistani Passion
We are American Christians with a heart for the Christian Minority in Pakistan. We aim to support our new found Christian brothers and sisters through prayer,monetary and mission support.

Peter Antonson said...

Trolling? Really Mr. Gray? I've known Kimo for ten years. We used to live on the same property in Wailua. We've remained friends before, during, and after other disagreements. You're very likely to find me on his blog!
I was Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Lihue United Church for over ten years. No, I'm not going to try to one up your boasting; but, I could. I'm going to advise you that if you ever want to be the leader of a large group of Christians, who mostly just have that one thing in common, you need to unlearn the defensiveness and name calling. On the secular side, I've treated countless numbers of children and adults in Kauai's schools and hospitals and I frankly cannot see how your attitude and approach regarding criticism fits your profession; which is more similar than different than mine. Working for the sake of others should increase increase our humility and compassion; not do the opposite!

Rick Comstock said...

Your green shirt gives away your military status. As for Pete being my friend of mine I would welcome. Don't need to worry about me being a troll but you did invite dialog by use of a blog. Pete is as welcome to comment anytime on social media and a third person blog. Oh but now you place yourself as an OPED piece. My mistake, please turn and run because I do understand which side you speak from now. Your definition of a troll must be anybody who will contest your OPED while cloaking as a blog. Thanks for helping Christians in Pakistan... Now how about supporting refugees in crisis, because right now your OK with turning away Syrians in crisis. Blanket discrimination fellow American. Please name the Substance Abuse Program on Kauai ? They all come in different colors be more direct.

Rick Comstock said...

Just finished with your Bible for Pakistan video. You actually mean when you post to me that your not only trying to convert Muslums to Christianity but that is all you do. Fits perfectly with not helping refugees.... not one comment from this whole video mentions Muslums except to point out only 3% of Pakistanis are Christian...."We need more donations to supply needed bibles" I understand .... Thanks for the confirmation.... Brick Oven Slavery.... Get real...I guess the Christians here don't need your help.... But then again this is about morals and humanity not Christianity. Your all about promoting the word of God from your 'Comfort Zone' Don't worry about me your "OPED" followed by your righteousness actually disgusts me ... Please block me also.

Brian Gray said...

Lol My green shirt? What green shirt? Are you sure you are talking to the same guy? Strike two. The blog was originally an "Opinion Editorial" in the Garden Island. I was invited to share it as a guest on the blog and I did. I don't understand your confusion regarding sides I speak from? A troll is a person who trolls for opportunities to engage in ad hominem debates designed to bate another into a shameless angry tirade that undermines and discredits any truth they may have to share. Sometimes it's targeted at a specific person. More often a troll simply targets anyone online with an opposing viewpoint and or anyone who is willing to play with them. Trolls rarely say any thing substantive or helpful. They simply poke and prod the credibility of the another hoping the potential victim will prove them right in the end. So far you have called me a bigot, a racist, mocked my faith, accused me of being passive aggressive and insinuated that I am a liar. Correct me if I am wrong but I don't think I have said anything like that to you. Incidentally these are all hallmarks of online "AstroTurf" and yes - trolling. You disagree with my viewpoint. Fine maybe you are more experienced than me. That's not passive aggressive. You say I'm wrong. Tell me why you are wiser and smarter than me with logical arguments and sound critical thinking. I love to learn and debating is how I learn best. However I am starting to doubt that you have anything to teach me. Maybe you will prove me wrong. Perhaps you can name a place in the world where the recent influx of refugees has not resulted in catastrophic results? I'm thinking that maybe Saudi Arabia knows something we don't. I heard Ben Carson just visited the Zaatari camp in Jordan. I wonder what he thinks? Forgive me if I don't trust the UN or its data. They have a different agenda and a long history of undermining the well being of Sovereign nations and their policies are rarely in line with what is best for us here America. If you'd like to debate the scriptural basis for my arguments I can do that as well. After all the bible clearly states that a rebuke from a friend is sweeter than kisses from an enemy and that steel sharpens steel. I do love being sharpened. Or we can debate the Koran if you like. I read it once before and I'm reading it again now on my IPhone. Most of the apps are free. It's a really scary book once you understand that everything in it is meant to be taken literally. You asked me a series of questions Rick. I answered them even though you always responded to my questions with more questions of your own. You are not my potter and I'm done talking about me. In the end I'm just guy with a perspective and who takes actions based on that perspective. Frankly I'd be one of the first to get on board with a plan to help Syrian refugees in Kauai provided it improves the socioeconomic well being of our community and you can convince me that it will not increase the risk of having what just happened in CA happen here. Right now I don't think you can but like I said I open to correction. In the meantime I've contacted several humanitarian organizations to inquire how we can help the Syrians where they are. I'll be asking Kimo for another guest blog spot the moment I have a plan that others can support. I'd certainly welcome help if you have the time and wherewithal to research ideas with me. Anyway please talk about a viable plan of your own creation or stop wasting my time. As you can see I'm already pretty busy. We need some creative and viable solutions to the problems coming our way if we hope to survive the next decade on Kauai. By the way I'm glad to hear that you pay taxes. You'll go to jail if you don't.

Brian Gray said...


Peter Antonson said...

So Brian, you're not only on the same side (oh yes you did choose!) as religious and racial bigotry, in other words: the wrong side, you're on the losing side! If you're lucky enough to mellow with age, you'll discover that "Wisdom...is knowing what you have to accept." Wallace Stegner (1972) The Angle of Repose (final page)