Today’s post is on the importance of memes in the fight to keep your sanity while arguing about Things That Matter.  Although memes undeniably shorten and sometimes oversimplify arguments, the reality is that most conversations, discussions, or verbal holiday brawls with family over Things That Matter do not take place in 1,500 word blog posts. When you’re at the dinner table and someone says something offensive and damaging about Syrian refugees, “the gays,” and who all else, you don’t have the option of saying:

“Hang on just one minute while I boot up my computer.  Then I will make you read an essay, and you shall know EXACTLY how wrong you truly are!”

Well if you do try it, let me know how it turns out.  Also, please film.

Anyway, memes are useful because they are a useful way of remembering short things that other people have put a surprising amount of thought into making both A) short, B) memorable, and in our case, C) on point.  C is of course important because memes about lolcats aren’t going to help you convince Uncle Joe that no, Syrian refugees are not seeking entry to the U.S. simply for the purpose of killing us all.  On the other hand, a well-timed quote from a well-crafted meme can help you feel prepared and keep your head when conversations turn intense.

To help prepare you to discuss the main issue on tap this week, the fact that Syrian refugees are being made the objects of fear and hatred in the United States and elsewhere, I have collected some of my favorite memes on the subject that I have seen floating around the internet.  I hope these will be useful in helping us all feel a little more prepared to stand up on their behalf and spreading awareness that by and large, Syrian refugees are simply people trying to flee a violent hellhole and find a safe place to raise their families in peace and dignity, exactly as we would do if we found ourselves in that situation.  Based on the rhetoric going on right now about how Syrian refugees will be the demise of America, they could use all the help they can get.  So, here’s my list, and please add your own in the comments below:

1. Topical to Thanksgiving, but still a classic about how for most Americans, the hysteria about immigrants and refugees destroying America is downright hypocritical:

Let's be honest here. Every generation has had its own ugly reaction to refugees, whether they are the Irish, the Vietnamese, the Cubans, or the Haitians, and those fears have been broadly unfounded. In fact, there was only one time in American history when the fear of refugees wiping everyone out did actually come true, and we'll all be sitting around a table celebrating it on Thursday.2.  Much of the fear and hate being leveled against Syrian refugees is closely tied with Islamophobia and antagonism toward Muslims.  This one’s for the people you may encounter who say we should admit Syrians but only if they are not Muslim, or for certain would-be politicians who say we should require American Muslims to be listed in a registry:

Amazing how important freedom of religion is when it's time to bake a wedding cake and how little it matters when it's time to "ban Muslims"3.  This one isn’t a meme, but rather, a photo from Humans of New York of a brave young woman named Aya who is a refugee from the violence in Syria.  I’m breaking my rule a bit from earlier, because her story is worth telling people to take out their computers to look up during these conversations.  Sometimes people — we all — forget that the people we’re arguing about have faces.  And names.  And dogs they rescued even while their own lives were in limbo.  Please go onto the Humans of New York Facebook page to read more about her story.

Photo of Aya, a Syrian Refugee, and her dogAs always, we like to leave you folks on a note of activism.  Please use these memes to help remind you during conversations that A) historically, most Americans don’t exactly have the moral high ground when it comes to issues of immigration, B) last we all checked, freedom of religion in America was a thing, and C) consider signing your name to the petition below to help Aya and others like her make their way to safety.

To learn more about the petition to help bring her to America, click here.

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