Letters to the Editor

20+ letters from readers mostly appalled by McCrory statement on Syrian refugees

Gov. Pat McCrory requests the federal government to not send any further Syrian refugees to North Carolina, during a news conference at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Monday.
Gov. Pat McCrory requests the federal government to not send any further Syrian refugees to North Carolina, during a news conference at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Monday. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

The terrorism in Paris will result in many suggestions for methods to avoid ISIS attacks in the U.S.

I have some questions: If everyone decided to carry a gun, would that stop a terrorist with a suicide vest? Would that have stopped the Boston Marathon bombers?

Would preventing any Syrian Muslims from entering the U.S. stop the terrorist threat? Isn’t our greatest threat from homegrown terrorists? Weren’t most of the Parisian terrorists either from France or Belgium?

Let’s look for solutions that recognize that “homegrown terrorists” are our main threat, and we need the support of our Muslim citizens to identify them. This is also in their best interest since terrorists aren’t likely to check for religious affiliations before they detonate their suicide vests. We shouldn’t take actions which will simply alienate the American Muslim community and make us less safe.

Marvin Maddox



We once again fall in to the trap the extremists set and they laugh as their cause grows. Our rejection of people who are trying to flee the terror that’s been created around them through no fault of their will now because of these kind of moves hate the US as do the terrorists.

Just like our invasion fomented terrorism our rejection of refugees will create more terrorists.

Thanks, Governor

Michael Eisenberg



What’s happening to America? Now the governors of half our country want to refuse Syrians entry to their states.

This sounds like a repeat of U.S. policy when thousands of Jews were refused admittance to America after World War II.

We are repeating the past.

Elizabeth Sloan

Chapel Hill


My home is open to as many Syrian refugees as it will hold. This Chicken Little/every Middle-Eastern-person-is-a-terrorist is infantile, wimpish, scaredy-cat and un-Christian. These people have been forced from their homes at the point of a gun. Some have lost family. To not offer succor to these people is to be no different than Daesh. I am absolutely disgusted at Gov. Pat McCrory’s action and more ashamed than ever to have to admit that I live in North Carolina. McCrory could do with a little time in a war zone, preferably working graves registration. This decision is repugnant.

George Capehart



In the wake of the slaughter in Paris last weekend, a number of governors, including Pat McCrory, are suggesting that refugees should not be allowed to resettle in their states. They want to “keep their citizens safe.”

Yet these are the same leaders who scorn universal background checks and bans on assault weapons; leaders who think carrying a concealed weapon into a bar is a good idea (I’m looking at you, Pat McCrory.) As a result, red-blooded American terrorists can walk into Sandy Hook Elementary, or a theater in Aurora, an office at the Naval Yard, a community college in Oregon or a mosque in Milwaukee and slaughter indiscriminately.

So far this year, 9,959 people in the United States have died from gun violence. That is a far greater threat to our society than homeless, stateless families fleeing a brutality we can’t even imagine.

Governors who truly want to protect their citizens should stop drinking the NRA’s Kool-aid and do something about gun control. Now.

Patricia M. Walker



I am appalled but not surprised by Gov. Pat McCrory joining in with the other governors asking that Syrian refugees not be sent to their states. Fortunately they have little authority on that issue. I guess they say anything that to score points including fearmongering that plays right into the hand of groups such as ISIS. But shouldn’t they be more concerned about white males, particularly since they do most of they mass shootings in this country? Maybe they should have state troopers posted at shopping malls, theaters and high schools and colleges. Have them stopped and frisked before entering those facilities or at least check their cars everyone once in a while. I am sure many people of color could relate to that experience already.

I conclude this with a thought I saw on Twitter: “If only we had a seasonal appropriate story about a Middle Eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

Henry Jarrett



Look at the map of states that are afraid of welcoming George W. Bush’s Syrian refugees, and you’ll notice two things: They are pretty much Republican states, and they are generally the states with the highest gun ownership and most concealed carry permits. Wouldn’t you think our brave “wannabe cops” and “wannabe heroes” with Concealed Carry Permits would jump at the chance to prove they can protect us all from the Syrian refugees? I mean, isn’t that the whole selling point of concealed carry and gun ownership?

C’mon, Governor McCrory and NRA lovers. Don’t go “lilly livered” on us all now! Here’s your big chance to prove your manhood and your Christian charity! Or could it be that the whole “Guns make you safe!” mantra is a complete fraud? Maybe the truth is “guns make you afraid.”

Steve Lough



I was saddened by Gov. Pat McCrory’s response to the plight of Syrian refugees. If you are going to be a politician who suggests you support “Christian values,” you should learn something about your faith foundations. A core value of all the religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that trace themselves back to Abraham is hospitality to “the stranger.” In Deuteronomy, we hear that “the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, who ... defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Jesus himself said: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance ... For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Perhaps we could listen.

Mark Peifer



Thank goodness the innkeeper in Bethlehem helped Mary and Joseph when they needed a place to stay. And that they found a safe haven in Egypt when they needed to protect their son from the murdering Herod. Otherwise, many of us might not have been taught that God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves and that our neighbors are anyone in need. We should be doing more, not less, to help the Syrian refugees from the horror of ISIS find a safe place here for them and their families.

Susan Kelly Nichols



Our politicians have suddenly become “security conscious” since the Paris attacks. How can anyone continue to condemn other races/religions if they have not had the opportunity to understand that there are rotten eggs in every basket and the religion itself should not be criticized because of the few radicals?

The Muslim religion is one of the oldest in the world, and its people have tried to show they are not radicals. The recent good work of the Barakats have shown that people of other religions have good intentions. I find that the criticism given to the whole is not what America should be about.

The rotten eggs will always be a concern because they have given their religion and their people a poor image. We as Americans should open our minds and our hearts to those religions who are trying to make a difference and escape the persecution they have seen in their countries. We are not going to stop a few radicals by stopping the influx of good-hearted people who want to continue to practice their faith and become part of the American culture.

Terry Kelly



What a disgusting display of mob psychology, herd mentality – call it what you will – by so many of our governors and other elected officials immediately jumping on the bandwagon to demonize and refuse entry to all immigrants and refugees who have fled their country of origin and headed to the US seeking sanctuary and new lives.

I dare say many of those condemning the refugees have relatives – perhaps very close ones – who came to America in similar circumstances and have become valuable and productive members of our varied mixed neighborhoods and society. My own forebears came to Rhode Island from the British Isles in the 17th century, on the run from upheaval, religious and political ideas that clashed with their own desires for independence and freedom of expression and worship. They helped form states, homesteads, businesses and families we, often proudly, carry on to this day. True, some were rabblerousers and not very admirable troublemakers willing to make waves to gain their objectives. In the process we decimated the Native Americans who had been here for centuries, even as we accepted their gifts of food and know-how that let us survive to establish communities. Some of us would deny present day refugees even basics of survival, shutting them out at our borders – including pregnant women or with babes in arms, other children and the elderly.

This country was founded by immigrants – and disgracefully – by the slaves we captured and/or bought to help build the nation, so we are far from blameless when it comes to our righteous claims of superiority.  

Sally Godfrey

Holly Springs


The governor, and no doubt most of the legislature, want to serve notice on Washington that we don’t want any Syrian refugees here. Why? Well, we don’t know which one(s) might be “terrorists”

But, aside from the usual pious language, we ignore our own homegrown terrorists in the U.S. Ours don’t usually use bombs, though they do crop up occasionally, they mostly use handguns and rapid-fire rifles. But they still prey on civilians, at shopping malls, in movie theaters, in schools and on the streets of cities across the country. The dead and wounded are innocent, shoppers, U.S. congressional representatives and, most horribly, schoolchildren.

In North Carolina, and across the country, we have our own deluded, disaffected and insane with virtually unrestricted access to weapons. Not to mention our homegrown religious fanatics, some of whom are threatening excommunication to church members who get a little too liberal, and others who call outright for extermination of gays and lesbians because they violate the “laws of God.”

We strain against the intraocular speck of dust while not blinking at the enormous splinter in our own eyes.

Charles Murphy



When I was a child in NC going to Hebrew school every weekend, we learned about the Holocaust. Our Zionist teachers believed strongly that if you never forgot what happened, you could prevent it from happening again. So they made sure that we who were born after WWII still knew, in great detail, about the horrors the Jews suffered from the Nazis. One day I asked my parents, “Why didn’t your parents do something to help? Didn’t they know what was happening over there?” Their answer, as best I can remember, was something like, “They didn’t report all the details in the news in those days, and we had no other way of learning what was going on in Europe. We didn’t know how bad it was until it was already happening.”

The Syrian refugees fleeing the Islamic State ARE the Jews fleeing the Nazis. The primary difference is that WE ACTUALLY KNOW what is happening to them.

I have not forgotten the lessons I was taught about the Holocaust. I remember.

We need to prove our humanity by offering asylum to those escaping the Islamic State. As many of them as we can. As quickly as we can.

Laurie Smithwick



I am deeply ashamed of my governor and the governors who joined him in requesting a ban on Syrian refugees. It is un-American to assume they are guilty – to punish thousands for the actions of one. It is un-Christian to deny aid to those in deep need. It is cowardly – true leaders need to help us do the right thing even when, especially when, we are afraid to. It paints America as just the kind of country the terrorists say we are.

If we want to honor the French, let us be the country they thought we were when they gave us the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Let’s not kid ourselves. We are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. For me it was 1912 when my grandparents came here from Ireland. Subsequently, my father and both his brothers fought in WW2 – as Americans. 100 years from now it will be clear that the benefits of letting in some Syrians now will far, far, far outweigh the liabilities.

John Twomey



Refugees? If Gov. Pat McCrory were really concerned about the safety of North Carolina residents, he would have pushed for the expansion of Medicaid in the State and provided funding for more social workers, nurses and better pay for teachers in public schools.

His fear-mongering about immigrants is a shameful reminder of our reaction to refugees during past wars and disasters, e.g. the Irish, Italians, Polish, etc.

My father was born in Poland and came to the United States at the age of 7 in the 1920s. He became a doctor and then enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating, fighting in the Pacific in World War II.

David C. Sokal



As I read about the Syrian refugees, and whether or not we as a country should provide them with asylum, I can’t help but think of parallels with the situation of German Jews during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Desperate to get out, they were routinely denied access to the United States. Not only did the public clearly disapprove of accepting refugees, but the State Department callously used the bureaucratic apparatus to delay indefinitely the applications of those people who sought to immigrate legally.

Among the justifications politicians provided for their actions, was that they feared German spies would pose as refugees in order to gain entry into the United States. Only after a congressional investigation threatened to expose the State Department’s policies and methods did President Roosevelt create the War Refugee Board in 1943.

Today, we view this as a shameful episode that stains or nation’s history. Fifty years from now, how will we view our attitudes and actions today?

Edward Snyder

Assistant Professor of History, Chowan University



Regarding the Nov. 17 news article “McCrory: Don’t send Syrian refugees to N.C.”: Gov. Pat McCrory joined several other governors in calling for a halt to U.S. efforts to help refugees fleeing violence in Syria. What motivated the governor’s decision?

In his news conference he noted that his “primary duty as governor is to keep the citizens of North Carolina safe.” But actions are usually a better indication of motivations than someone’s own words.

What does the governor’s public safety record tell us? It tells us the governor personally intervened to ensure a major campaign contributor, Graeme Keith Sr., continues to receive state contracts for providing the physical integrity of our prisons. It tells us that another campaign contributor, Charlie Shelton of Shelton Vineyards, needed only to write a memo to ensure that the State Highway Patrol would force sleepy truck drivers to stay on the road even longer; state and local safety officers shifted their circulation to focus on the interstate ramps near the vineyards. A few days later, the Shelton brothers contributed more money to the governor’s campaign.

The governor may talk of safety when it comes to keeping out refugees, but his actions suggest that, when it comes to public safety in North Carolina, pay-to-play is alive and well.

Mark Nance



One of the most interesting displays in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the “Japanese Friendship Doll” called Miss Kagawa. This was one of 58 dolls sent to the United States by Japan in the 1920s as part of a goodwill exchange between the two countries.

During World War II, North Carolina was the only state that didn’t destroy its friendship doll or remove it from display in order to appease anti-Japanese sentiment.

To me, the doll is a symbol of the higher standards of human dignity and global citizenship that North Carolina has traditionally strived for.

As such, I was disappointed to read Gov. Pat McCrory’s announcement that North Carolina should not take in any refugees from Syria.

The governor is catering to the winds of fear rather than the higher ideals of North Carolina. I urge him to reconsider his stance and learn more about these refugees, most of whom are good people fleeing violence and persecution.

Bert Clere



Regarding the Nov. 17 news article “McCrory: Don’t send Syrian refugees to N.C.”: Courage and cowardice take many forms, and our governor has provided a sad counterpoint to the thousands of courageous, desperate families fleeing ISIS while Gov. Pat McCrory, ever so fearful of a terrorist possibly destroying our country, has boldly proclaimed North Carolina off-limits to all Syrian refugees.

Mothers, children, everybody must simply go back home to the bombs, brutality and rapes of ISIS, since the world’s most powerful military, its local police and an armed citizenry cannot possibly cope with the prospect of a few terrorists possibly slipping through the vetting process.

Since the Paris plotters hatched their plan from Belgium, I would guess that McCrory’s next move will be to urge the military to bomb Brussels.

Tom Field

Chapel Hill


The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees from a war-torn country looking for sanctuary and safety. We granted them asylum. We extended our hand of friendship and the opportunity to build a new life.

How did they show their gratitude? They blew up Americans in loyalty to their twisted and demented perversion of religion.

Can this happen again with more Muslim refugees from Syria?

Jack Granger



My confusing weekend: I was hopeful, if not optimistic, that we could show some compassion and accept some of the Syrian refugees after “robust” vetting. Then I heard that an FBI assistant director say that we had no means for doing such vetting. I tend to believe that since my own passport was stolen by the Syrian Paris embassy a number of years ago when I applied for a visa. Their reputation follows them.

Then I realized that our land borders were well-suited for improper entry to the US anyway. Then I heard that we were releasing prisoners from Guantanamo and sending them to the Mid-east. Another FBI alumnus referred to this as “restocking the pool of enemy militants.” If nothing else, the release is perfect timing.

I made a drink and have started to re-read “Alice in Wonderland.”

Charles Vaughan