Heartless politicians and homeless refugees
Have they misplaced their hearts?
After the Nov. 13 jihadist attacks in Paris, most of the Republican candidates for president turned their backs on the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the horrors inside the Islamic State. They did this out of fear — and for political gain.
Fear is rational. Fear is understandable. But fear can outrun reason.
Listen to what they say:
Donald Trump proposes that he may shut down mosques. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would ban even small children from coming. Ben Carson compares the refugees to “rabid dogs.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush suggest that only Christians could come — recalling the shameful episode in 1939 when a ship filled with Jews facing death at the hands of the Nazi butchers was turned away from American shores.
Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, insists on seasoning his rhetoric with phrases such as “war of civilizations.” Even though, as French President Francoise Hollande noted, “We are not committed to a war of civilizations, because these assassins don’t represent any civilization.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Janesville Republican, has a smarter idea. He called for a “pause” in the Syrian refugee program in the United States until the government’s procedures can be examined. As long as Ryan doesn’t intend to lock the doors for good, this is reasonable.
Gov. Scott Walker seemed to be saying much the same thing when he called on President Barack Obama to “suspend” the program. Again, as long as it’s temporary.
The threat from Syrian refugees is low. The U.S. already screens them carefully. A State Department spokesperson recently told the Washington Post that of the nearly 785,000 refugees who have come to the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “only about a dozen — a tiny fraction of one percent of admitted refugees — have been arrested or removed from the U.S. due to terrorism concerns that existed before their resettlement in the U.S. None of them were Syrian.”
And Seth Jones, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, told Congress in June that “the threat to the U.S. homeland from refugees has been relatively low ... In most instances, a would-be terrorist’s refugee status had little or nothing to do with their radicalization and shift to terrorism.”
We must take precautions, but this nation also must stand by its traditional values and principles. In trying to sound like leaders, Cruz, Bush and the others give the terrorist killers exactly what they want — an America bending to fear.
By law, this is a federal issue. Walker and the other governors can’t prevent people from moving to their states if they are granted refugee status by the federal government. President Barack Obama has promised to take 10,000 Syrians this year, which is a trickle compared to the flows to other nations, especially Germany.
Even as France mourns, Hollande has made clear it will provide succor to Syrians: “The terrorists want to erase everything: culture, youth, life, and also history and memory. We will not yield to terrorism by suspending our way of life.”
We must not.
The world is fighting a gang of criminals, not a state, not a civilization. They are criminals fed by a nihilistic doctrine that perverts all the good of the religion they claim to revere. The dark shadow of their ideology must be obliterated. But in doing so, we keep lit the bright light of freedom that has beckoned so many to our shores since America’s founding.
Reprinted from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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