Denying Access for Refugees to the US Based on Religion Is Wrong
The blatant bigotry which has come to the forefront in American politics since the terrorist attacks in Paris a little over a week ago is nothing short of appalling. The efforts of those at the state and congressional levels to take political advantage of the predictable and understandable fear that such attacks can and do have on many people in this and other nations by scapegoating millions of innocent people who are themselves among those most victimized by the sort of violence typified by such attacks on the basis of their religion and/or country of origin is reprehensible.
That a group of candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the next Presidential election notorious for their outlandish political stances on everything from immigration to waging war both at home (on LGBT people, women, the poor and disadvantage) and abroad (the entire Middle East, to include Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and any other country they perceive as standing in the way of total US domination in the area) stoops to new lows in demonizing innocent refugees is not particularly surprising. That many state governors (primarily, but not exclusively, GOP) and members of Congress have also become outspoken opponents of aiding and settling refugees in this country does more to achieve the aims of ISIS in perpetrating these acts than the actual attacks themselves. It certainly does nothing to make us any safer from future attacks.
The notion that an already cumbersome process for settling refugees seeking protection here from the terror and conflicts afflicting their country of origin needs to be slowed down to make sure that no potential or actual terrorist can fake their way through the maze and attack us from within is unacceptable to those of us seeking to insure that innocent human beings are taken from untenable living conditions and placed under circumstances more in keeping with their rights as living human beings. Refusing refugees refuge creates more innocent victims’ deaths meaninglessly.
How easy it seems for people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to hypocritically forget the circumstances that led their parents to leave Cuba and grant their American-born offspring the opportunity to run for President of this country. Donald Trump and others advocating shutting down places of worship, setting up government databases and/or issuing special IDs for people based on their religion is yet another example of inhumane, if not unconstitutional, treatment. If singling people out for unequal treatment as refugees based on their religion alone (advocated by no less a mainstream Republican than Jeb Bush) is permissible, what is not? Is there really that much of a difference between a Jihadist who kills those who belong to the wrong religion and a “civilized” person who refuses them sanctuary for the exact same reason?
Governors cannot keep refugees out of their states short of passage of a major Constitutional Amendment, but just the political posturing involved in their stated desire to do so certainly goes a long way towards making refugees feel unwanted and appears to give many people implicit permission to express their bigotry openly, rather than quelling mass public hysteria. Many of these people are damned by ISIS or civil war at home, then condemned everywhere they turn for help abroad – not an enviable position for anyone to be in.
The House Democrats who sided with the GOP in passing a bipartisan bill opposing current US policy on the matter do nothing to enhance their own brand, except to demonstrate how fickle they can be in abandoning their long-term moral positions for short-term political expedience. Reminds me of the politicians who run away from campaigning on some issue thinking they will gain support from voters in their district or state by doing so, but lose anyway because voters can’t trust them to do the right thing when the going gets tough. Hopefully, the Senate will prevent the bill from reaching the President’s desk, or at least uphold his promised veto.
ISIS and other terror groups must be faced down by concerted international action that not only deals with the murderous actions of these disaffected groups of people, but the root causes of their outrage as well. The Arab Spring of a few years ago has resulted in much additional disillusionment among many people who sought more permanent change than the mere replacement of one corrupt authoritarian regime by another, equally corrupt one with different names and faces in charge, which appears to have happened in most places that underwent any regime change at all. Others seem to live in constant chaos brought on by toppling regimes with no subsequent political unification to fill the power vacuum created in the process.
The US needs to do its part in settling refugees that have been created, at least to a great degree, by flaws in our foreign policy. Humanitarian concerns would dictate positive action to end the suffering even if that were not the case. Indiscriminate bombing that continues to result in deaths of innocent civilians is not the answer. Leaving helpless people to fend for themselves at the hands of ruthless killers, either in the form of ISIS, other terror groups or authoritarian dictators must not be an option, because then the terrorists and/or murderous regimes win and people who profess humanity and compassion lose.
Instead of following in the footsteps of the ill-advised leaders who initiated such actions as the forced interment of Japanese Americans during World War II or did nothing about the plight of refugees (largely Jewish) from Europe throughout that same conflict, this country should be striving to attain the more lofty goals expressed in FDR’s Four Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Surely, we can better avoid the former, however imperfectly we may achieve the latter. I certainly will not be campaigning or voting for anyone in 2016 advocating as hypocritical, bigoted and compassionless policy as I have seen and heard coming out of the mouths of candidates and elected officials in response to the ISIS attacks of November 2015.
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