The current battle in America’s Culture War is over the Syrian refugees. Many on the political Right are opposed to foreigners from the start, but when those foreigners are Muslims, the Religious Right really lose their shit. Recently, I have seen the far right spread this M&M meme across social media:
The meme states: “If I had a bowl that was filled with 10,000 M&M’s But I told you that 10 of them were deadly poison would you eat a handful? This is how I feel about Syrian refugees.”
Wow, that sounds pretty scary… except for a few things.
1. “You” could be lying your ass off or even perhaps mistaken and none of the
M&M’s in the bowl were “deadly poison.” This is significant because it assumes that at least some of the people running away from ISIS are secretly working for ISIS. There is no evidence or reason to believe that. Sure it is possible, but it is also possible that your neighbor down the street is secretly working for ISIS… or worse, is a radicalized Christianist or just some redneck who thinks he is an action hero and takes his gun to the movie theater in case there is trouble and then shoots you by accident while reaching for his popcorn. In fact, that is far more likely than people running from ISIS actually being members of ISIS.
2. Assuming it is true, you can eat multiple handfuls of these 10,000 M&M’s and it is statically unlikely you would get to any of the 10 poisonous ones. Now that doesn’t really translate well to what the metaphor is trying to say except that it is statically unlikely that an ISIS member would be able to hide not only from the 9,990 other Syrian refugees who HATE ISIS way more than you do and then continue to hide from the nearly 2 year vetting process for these refugees and then continue to acquire the materials they need to stage a terrorist attack without being detected by the FBI, CIA, NSA, and local law enforcement.
3. That brings me to the third reason this analogy fails. The fact that we have experts examining each and every one of these M&M’s specifically to make sure they are not “deadly poison.” Yes, there is a nearly two year vetting process here. We aren’t just letting anyone who claims to be fleeing ISIS into America. No, we are carefully examining each and every person. In fact, we are examining them way more than we should considering that there are much easier ways to get into this country with far less scrutiny. All an ISIS member would have to do is pretend to be an oil tycoon and offer a congressman a boat load of money and they could probably get in with no scrutiny. And if it is a Republican congressman, he might even throw in a free firearm or ten.
4. M&M’s are not people! We went through this once before during WWII. Back
then, Jews who were refugees from Nazi Germany were suspect. If they had social media memes back then, this meme would have been making the rounds. The rhetoric was exactly the same. How can anyone know whether or not a Jewish refugee was really a secret Nazi? That sounds almost preposterous today since we all pretty much know that a Jewish refugee would almost certainly be the last person to be a secret Nazi, but that is what people thought at the time and apparently still believe. Syrian refugees are people running from ISIS, they are not going to be the “deadly poison” M&M.
- Syrian Refugees Are Welcome by This Godless Atheist (HuffingtonPost.com)
- Kevin Sorbo Excuses Planned Parenthood Killer (SkepticInk.com)
- How We Should Fight Terrorism (SkepticInk.com)