Refugees from the Syrian civil war are fleeing the brutality of their own government and the atrocities of the Islamic State. They deserve welcome and compassion, but since the terror attacks in Paris, many in Europe and now in the United States see these victims as threats and want to turn away the desperate tide of uprooted people, most of them women and children.
Rejecting refugees is a moral blot on any country, but especially so for the United States, a nation of immigrants dedicated to upholding and defending human rights. But that has not stopped Republican presidential candidates, Republican members of Congress and a corps of GOP governors from calling for the nation to bar its doors to 10,000 Syrian refugees scheduled to be given safe harbor in the United States next year.
The concern among those who would block Syrian refugees is that some among them may be part of the Islamic State and intent on launching an attack inside the United States just as gunmen and suicide bombers did in Paris. There’s little evidence to support this worry. The Paris attackers were all, or almost all, from France or elsewhere in Europe. Beyond that, all Syrian refugees being admitted to this country will be carefully vetted to ensure they are not connected to Islamic State or any terrorist group.
If there is a threat, it is too small to merit surrendering America’s moral values and denying its history. Surely in this nation there is more to fear from home-grown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and the constant menace of gun deaths caused by Americans than there is to fear from Syrian school teachers or bakers or accountants seeking a safe haven for themselves and their children.
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Such logic doesn’t calm the paranoia or block the opportunism of politicians who see a chance to appeal to Americans’ fear rather than their compassion. North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory is among the many who caved to that impulse.
As he announced Monday that Syrian refugees would not be welcome in North Carolina, McCrory said, “I empathize with these people who are dealing with unimaginable atrocities from ISIS. I care for these people. But what worries me is that some of these people could actually be ISIS coming into our country.”
So is added another chapter in the governor’s book: Profiles in Going Along.
North Carolina’s 4th District Congressman David E. Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, struck the right note when he said, “[T]o conflate refugees with terrorists doesn’t make us safer; it merely perpetuates an environment of suspicion and anxiety and risks lending more credibility to terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts.”
The United States shouldn’t give in to fear mongering. It should give refuge to refugees.