Sometimes horrific events bring out the best in people. We can see examples of this in the Parisians who opened their home to strangers after the terrorist attacks this past Friday; we can see this in those who ran to the aid of the injured; we can see this in ways people throughout the world have stood with France literally and symbolically.
Unfortunately we don’t see this kind of humanity from those running for president on the GOP ticket and at last count some 12 governors of US states. Rather than denouncing those who attacked the innocent having coffee or dinner or listening to a concert in Paris and offering their condolences for the injured and those who lost loved ones, these men and Carly Fiorina took to the Twitter and the television to denounce President Obama and to call for either stop plans to accept Syrian refugees or only take in Christians fleeing the conflict in Syria.
Seriously, they want to create a religious litmus test to determine who is able to come to the US.
The fact that all those who attacked Paris on Friday were European nationals and not Syrian refugees seems to carry no weight at all with these folks. The fact that those fleeing Syria are trying to escape those who attacked Paris fails to register, as do, it seems, the words inscribed on our statute of liberty:
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
By responding to the Paris attacks by refusing to provide refuge to those fleeing Syria, Republican governors around the country and those running for President on the GOP ticket are doing what the terrorists want. They are also rejecting the principles upon which our country was founded; remember religious freedom, equality and freedom of assembly are all enshrined in the Constitution. And while we have long struggled to live up to those ideals, what kind of a country will we become if those who seek to lead us reject the principles that have so long guided us?
Thankfully, under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president may admit refugees who face “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” into the United States, and the president’s power to do so is even strong if it is determined that an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such as the Syrian refugee crisis exists.
We must denounce those who adopt the tough guy with big balls posture they would rather hand terrorists a PR win rather than seem weak than “Tough (enough) On Terror. These so-called Christians would rather deny refuge to families leaving Syria because they are trying to escape the same violence and unimaginable terror that took place in Paris and Beirut and elsewhere than stand up to those xenophobia, nativist haters and potentially lose votes.
If only we had a cultural narrative about a family from the middle east seeking refuge in the cold of winter being turned away by the heartless.