On the Persecution of the Assyrian Christians
Today, for the first time in my life that I can remember, I was ashamed to be an American.
At the Evangelical Presbyterian Church General Assembly in Michigan this morning, we were blessed to be the audience for a presentation by Juliana Taimoorazy, the founder and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council. Juliana has an amazing story of her own (she’s an Assyrian Christian who was smuggled out of Iran in 1988 and eventually made it to the United States in 1990, becoming a citizen and earning a master’s degree; she also speaks four languages, one of which is Aramaic), but what broke my heart and left me with tears in my eyes was the story she told of the persecution of Assyrian Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. I knew about the persecution, yes; I knew about the horrific, inhuman treatment meted out to Christians by ISIS, yes; I even knew about something that I don’t think she mentioned, which is that the U.S. government, by relying on the U.N. for recommendations, has been effectively playing favorites in the refugee resettlement process, with only 2.4% of those resettled being Christians despite Syria being 10% Christian.
But what shamed me was knowing that, for the third time in my lifetime, my government was turning a blind eye to genocide. It happened in Cambodia in the 1970s, it happened in Rwanda in the 1990s, and it is happening to Christians in Iraq and Syria as we speak. Even the Secretary of State has admitted that what is happening to Christians in the Middle East today is genocide, and yet a government that organized the toppling of Moammar Qaddafi, using the fear of what he might do to rebellious Islamists as the excuse, has turned a blind eye to the criminal (as in crimes against humanity) behavior of ISIS. Oh, the administration says the right words about “destroying ISIS,” but at the same time excuses its almost total inaction by declaring that ISIS is “not an existential threat to the United States.” (Neither was Qaddafi, though the might of NATO, including the United States military, was brought to bear against him.) ISIS is, however, an existential threat to one of the oldest, and most historically abused, Christian communities in the world. That is apparently of no consequence.
I’ll have more–much more–to say about this subject in the days ahead. For now, I’ll leave it at this: my country, in the person of its commander-in-chief, is willing to see tens of thousands of people slaughtered, and millions displaced and forced to live in squalor, so that said commander-in-chief’s vision of a less powerful and more inward-looking America might come to pass. It is a disgrace that we will not soon live down.
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