The terrorism attack in Paris and in other nations has brought out so much good and honorable in people around the globe. Sadly — and disgustingly — it also has brought out rampant xenophobia here and abroad.
In America, what we’ve heard recently from too many Republicans and some Democrats is a sick mix of xenophobic ideas centered on keeping out refugees fleeing Syria and punishing Muslims already in the country. These ideas and the people who have proposed them, which includes some presidential candidates, show the very worst and most regrettable sides of America.
A host of governors have signed measures barring Syrian refugees from settling in their states. That in spite of the fact that federal law prohibits it, making the gubernatorial proclamations meaningless, except in their blatant appeal to the worst instincts of their state’s inhabitants. There have been suggestions that refugees be settled in internment camps similar to the used for Japanese-Americans in world War II. Presidential candidates have actually proposed that mosques be closed and that Muslims living in America be subjected to special identification cards and their movements be tracked by a new federal agency (thank you, Donald Trump). So what’s next? Maybe special colored armbands, using the Nazi model?
Honestly, is this what we’ve come to now? Is our democracy so impoverished and weak that we must turn our backs on the qualified and the needy? Are we truly prepared to abandon the ideals that have contributed so much to the strength of our nation? We are desirous to turn our backs to the rest of the world in some kind of perverted nationalism? No. I cannot and will not believe that. Shame to everyone who has subscribed to these ideas, and shame to those who silently acquiesce.
The facts are that only a limited number of refugees will ever arrive on our shores. Those refugees will go through quite an extraordinary period of vetting that will keep them from becoming a part of our population for at least a year and possibly up to two years. Does anyone really think terrorists will follow this restriction in order to pursue crimes here? And let’s remember, too, that a majority of these refugees are women and children under the age of 12.
Is it too late for reason and right to prevail? I don’t think so. I believe in the goodness of people, and I believe that faith is justified and that suspicion and fear and hate are not strong enough to survive. We know they exist because they always have, but let us have more pride, more understanding, more compassion, more good sense than to succumb.
Much more needs to be said in defense of truth, but let me give the last word to the governor of the state of Washington, who recently wrote a potent response to the anti-refugee believers in the New York Times. Please take a moment to read it: