Syrian refugees at the golden door

UnknownWhile Europe is taking in around a million Syrian refugees, the U.S. has signed up for 10,000. But even that’s being challenged unless our government can guarantee no terrorists will sneak in.

This might seem reasonable prudence; one presidential hopeful has labeled the alternative “insane.” Though in fact, the U.S. is already exceedingly cautious in screening refugees. Over-cautious one might say. Not only is the process long and tortuous, but no bureaucrat wants responsibility for approving someone who later does something bad, with Muslims in particular considered suspect. (I’ve written of the shameful consequent stonewalling toward Iraqi asylum-seekers.)

Is it plausible a would-be terrorist might hide among refugees? In France, maybe; but here, he’d likely flunk that extremely difficult acceptance process – while there are quicker and easier ways to get into America – as the 9/11 hijackers did. And have we forgotten the eleven million people already here illegally? Considering that, worry over the bona fides of a few thousand Syrians (who will be thoroughly vetted) is absurd.

But can we guarantee no terrorists will get in? No – but the quest for 100% safety is, as ever, a fool’s errand. Everything has risks, which we balance against rewards – as with automobiles. Except when, irrationally, we don’t – as with Syrian refugees (or fracking). You’re literally a thousand times likelier to die in a car accident than from terrorism. Yet we drive.

These Syrians are not terrorists but victims of terror. Which leads to the overriding point: we should welcome them because it’s the right thing to do, the humane thing, the compassionate thing. We are a big and rich country, caviling at a few thousand bedraggled refugees? Have we also forgotten the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty?images-1

But admitting refugees is not a sacrifice. Studies repeatedly show immigrants contribute more to a country’s economy than they cost. They work harder, on average, start more businesses, and commit fewer crimes, than the native born. They enlarge the economic pie. These Syrians will enrich America. It’s such a wonderful country, I want as many people as possible to enjoy it as I do. This is worth the remote risk of one doing harm.

During WWII, our golden door was mostly closed toward Jews trying to flee the Holocaust. (My mother’s family was lucky, having a U.S. relative to sponsor them; though a grandmother didn’t make it.)

imagesWe fortunate cosseted Americans can scarcely even relate to the nightmare these people endure. Syria’s horror might seem far away, and its victims unlike us. But all human beings are far more alike than different. Syrians feel pain just like you or me; suffer anguish and fear just as you would; love their children just as much.

“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed?”


11 Responses to “Syrian refugees at the golden door”

  1. Frank Bath Says:

    Two things that worry Europeans. One, they are not all Syrians at all, though they are muslims. Two, there is no history of a wish to integrate, just look at the present. The USA does these things better perhaps, here we have multiculturalism that allows, even guarantees, people live as they do.

  2. Lee Says:

    The comparison to World War 2 is apt. These refugees need safety away from tyranny. Where are our hearts?

    (Alas, Shylock did not fare well.)

  3. Lee Says:

    Germany should be admitting as many immigrants as possible. This will solve the problem that the quantitative easing / financial stimulus that some euro-currency countries need would otherwise overheat the economy of Germany. With all those immigrants ready to produce, Germany would be able to take advantage of the quantitative easing / stimulus too!

  4. jmrussell Says:

    You express these things very well. Thank you. I’ve posted this on my Facebook page – where I’m sure many will disagree with you. It depresses me, how many will disagree. I see posts from otherwise good people posting a map of the U.S. with the words “No vacancy” stamped across it.

  5. Andy Says:

    I agree with you but would emphasize that all immigrants should learn English and use English exclusively as quickly as possible; adopt and embrace American ways; and give up the old mores of the country they left behind. The sooner they become thoroughly American, the better, and the less the likelihood to slide into some type of radicalism because of “being the other”.

    Multiculturalism leads to balkanization and keeping the mother tongue active just makes it harder to learn and internalize English. As one who is not a native English speaker I can attest to how easy it is to become fluent in it if the crutch of the old language is quickly removed.

  6. bruce Says:

    Perhaps you can enlighten me, why is it Europe and America need to take the refugees? Why not stable in the region countries? Saudi, Egypt, these countries should represent more culturally familiar and socially recognizable societies for these people.

  7. rationaloptimist Says:

    Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan — regional Muslim countries — have taken huge numbers of Syrian refugees. But Europe and America should take some too simply from altruism. But as I said, it’s not like it would hurt us. It would benefit us.

  8. bruce Says:

    Without a booming economy that is able to put everyone to work, you get ghettos like the “no go” areas in France,

  9. Sherwood 4ust Says:

  10. Paul Landsberg Says:

    Far too many of my fellow American are innumerate and concurrently unable to truly assess risks.

  11. rationaloptimist Says:

    True. We worry about preventing the remote possibility that some Syrian refugee will do something, while 30,000 Americans are killed annually by other Americans with guns, which we hardly do anything at all to prevent.

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