Yesterday, the House passed HR 4038, a bill that expands background checks on certain refugees who wish asylum in the United States. It passed with bipartisan support 289-137. (Full list of who voted how is here.)
If you think this is okay, you could not be more wrong. The whole issue of refugees is bringing out the worst in far too many politicians and candidates, as well as “regular” Americans. And if you think it will stop with Syrians and Iraqis, you have no understanding of history. This is a blight on our collective soul as a country.
Reasons and rationale after the jump.
Before we get to the issue of morality, let’s look at a few simple facts. Terrorists, while terrible people, are not necessarily stupid. And only a stupid terrorist wanting to get to our shores would do so via the refugee process, which takes years. He would instead get a tourist visa, student visa, fake passport or the like. Easier modes of passage here. While two of the Paris terrorists crossed via Greece, that’s a liquid border. It’s not crossing an ocean. Melding into a crowd of hundreds of thousands crossing overland is simple. Once in the EU, the borders are relatively open. This is not the case to come here.
Further, the majority of the terrorists were homegrown boys: from France, from Belgium. Boys who went to Syria, or to jail, and grew to indoctrinated men from the marginalized boys they had been. The growth of hate in Europe has been festering for decades.
But back to America. The calls from Hillary Clinton and all the GOP presidential nominees are hawkish. Only Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley hold high ground. It’s as if they don’t recall that American intervention years earlier in Iran led to the 1979 storming of the US Embassy, and the rise of fundamentalism, Forgotten, too, are the direct connections from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that led to Afghanistan being the home of the Taliban and its re-emergence, as well as Iraq becoming a failed state. They forget that as bad as Saddam was, we attacked a country that did nothing to us, and was the most liberal (comparatively) of the Arab states before we destabilized them. They don’t see how these actions, plus the failed states of Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and other nation-state victims of the Arab spring have led to the desperation of regular people. People who are now refugees in their own countries, or just trying to get OUT.
How desperate for a safe home, a meal that you would strap on what you could carry, and bring your children and elderly parents on a perilous journey that can easily end in death, as it did to Aylan Kurdi, age 3, off the coast of the Greek island of Kos.
Refugees are not terrorists. They are human beings, many with PTSD, who just can’t take the years of war anymore.
And so much of America is ready with an upraised middle finger.
Shame on you.
We must emulate Dannel Malloy, who said, in welcoming a Syrian family to Connecticut:
“We have an obligation to the other nations of the world to do our part,” he said during a brief news conference. “It is the right thing, the humane thing to do. Quite frankly, if you believe in God, it’s the morally correct thing to do.”
As we listen to Donald Trump spew hate, only to be followed like the Pied Piper by all the other GOP contenders, we need to step back and THINK. About the shame on our collective soul for interring Japanese during WW2, denying entry to Jews fleeing Europe in 1938, not to mention hundreds of years of slavery, the Trail of Tears, and all the other horrible things Americans have done because of a collective hatred of those not “like us”.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905.
1905. More than a century ago, and somehow too many of us value hate over decency.
Shame on you, America.