That is the question.
Already the comments are flooding in, blaming refugees for the terrorist attacks in Paris, calling for an end to asylum, calling for refugee camps to be burned to the ground, cheering on the fire in the Calais "Jungle" camp.
Just as with America's 9/11, I am more frightened of the backlash than of the terrorism itself. Look what 9/11 got us: the execrable Patriot Act with its evisceration of constitutional protections; hatred of Muslims (and even Sikhs, who were often mistaken for Muslims because they wear turbans); xenophobia in general; a justification for bigotry and closed-mindedness. All in the name of safety.
In comments on news stories about Paris I am seeing sentiments such as "burn them all out," how at the Calais refugee camp "they" (who?) are just "cleaning the place up," and so on.
The first thing that needs to be done in stirring up murderous rage against a segment of society is to dehumanize them, to imply that "those people" are really not people but vermin to be exterminated. Hey, it worked for Hitler!
I'm reading about sleeper cells and so on. Sleeper cells there may be, but I don't see how we can guarantee against them no matter how draconian our practices become. We are never going to be 100% risk-free. And at what price do we attempt to guarantee safety? For some people, totalitarianism is acceptable in the quest to guard against terrorist attacks.
It's not acceptable to me.
I'd rather take my chances, thanks, than see our civil liberties eroded even more than they already have been.
I find it horrifying that otherwise intelligent people have no problem with demonizing entire groups of people as if each and every person in the group is or could be a terrorist. I find it morally repugnant that people are calling for the literal extermination of all people of a particular religious/cultural group, children and all. But that's what's happening.
Have we learned nothing from the various genocidal acts that have taken place in our history? Really? We are still at this level of justifying genocidal impulses?
So as terrible as the Paris attacks are--and they are loathsome attacks against humanity--I am more afraid of the aftershocks. I see a lot of evil transpiring after these events, acts that will make innocent people suffer. The rush to judgment, the surrender to emotions of rage and revenge, the desire to punish: all of these will come to pass and already are coming to pass. I see it on my Facebook feed, in comments on the news stories, on Twitter.
I weep for all of us.