Friday, November 20, 2015
Refugee Situation True Test For America
Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015 10:38 pm
Governor Baker — shame on you. Shame on you and other governors participating in the effort to ignore thousands of refugees — men, women and children facing death with nowhere to run. All based upon little more than their religion, heritage, and your own politics and fears.
Congratulations to governors in states like Rhode Island and Connecticut who refuse to set aside the principles upon which this country was founded. It is sad when simply doing your job is so unusual it becomes deserving of special attention and praise.
Nowhere are governors given the right to determine who can live in their state. They can flex their political muscles all they want, but they are politicking instead of leading.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are running for their lives. Staying in their homeland is an option only if they wish to die. Saying they are desperate is a tremendous understatement.
Yet here, many leaders — and I use that term loosely — are actively seeking to deny them refuge. They claim the reason is security. They believe some radical Islamic terrorists are using the refugee crisis to sneak agents into the United States to attack us on our homeland. And undoubtedly, some are.
They are not swayed by the fact the screening process today is the toughest it has ever been. They ignore that it takes 18 to 24 months of scrutiny before a refugee is allowed to move about freely in the United States. No, they are just focused on protecting their people.
Long before the terrible attacks in Paris, conservative leaders and citizens were fighting the potential arrival of Syrian refugees. Their primary fear is not of being attacked, but of poor foreigners moving into their communities and possibly adding to their social welfare budgets. They believe Muslims pose a threat to Christians — and that’s who this country belongs to, right?
Hold a fundraiser for these poor souls and Americans will gladly give. We’ll send a check, make a donation, feed a family for a month. We are generous that way.
But, let them come here? And possibly live among us? Maybe even next door? Whoa, that wasn’t part of the deal. Not in the America some see today.
This is a dangerous world in which we live. Terrorism is a real and serious threat. We must take strong steps to protect our security and freedom.
More than ever, we must ensure our vetting process is stronger and more stringent than before. On that, there is no argument.
But in order to protect America, must we stop being America? Do we have to abandon the principles upon which this country was founded in order to preserve it? Must we become the enemy to defeat the enemy?
On social media, you often see this popular analogy for the refugee crisis: “If you had a bag of 100 apples and you knew five were poisoned, would you eat any of the apples?”
The reply to that is this: “If you saw a boat sinking with 100 children on it, and you knew five were suicide bombers, would you let the other 95 children sink and die?”
When Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and wounded 680 others on April 19, 1995, did we stop letting white Christians into the country?
“We should be spending money on our veterans, not refugees”, some loudly proclaim. But ignoring these refugees and allowing them to die will not result in one penny more for veterans — and those making these statements know that. Using brave veterans as pawns in a political battle is disgusting.
The Statue of Liberty has these words mounted upon it: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore ...”
That is now considered by many to be outdated, given modern day realities.
Yet the words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is held as absolute, despite the complete change in weaponry since they were written.
This is the same sort of flawed, fear-driven philosophy that put Japanese-Americans into internment camps.
Here’s hoping our fear and prejudice does not keep us, as a country, from doing the right thing.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.