Let’s just start this off directly: I am 100% in support of the US taking in Syrian refugees. I think we should have already been doing so. I think my governor, and the governors of 25 other states are wrong. I want to cry every time I think of those kids who are right now suffering and YES, I welcome them into my home. More amazingly, I am able to feel this way and also be concerned about homeless vets, institutional racism, the US budget and a flurry of other things. Despite what my facebook feed would suggest, I am actually capable of caring about more than one injustice in the world at a time.
One thing I keep seeing over and over and over again is this whole “But what if some terrorists get in too?” thing. To which I say, bullshit. Reasons: (1) There are already terrorists here, and if you pay attention you’ll see that – gasp! – they aren’t even all muslims! or brown people! Amazing I know. (2) There are way easier ways for terrorists to get into the US than to work through the refugee process. Like, the almost 4000 miles of unguarded border with Canada. Or you know, a passport (real or fake, available relatively easily in dark places on the web) and a plane ticket.
But I know where some of that is coming from – I’ve seen it in my own family members. Some people really, truly are scared because all they hear is “TERRORIST” and have no ability to assess the real risk levels in the situation. I, on the other hand, grew up in a military town and now work in a town with a strong military presence. There is a certain level of security awareness that comes along with that, along with a less volatile response to things that would probably freak out people who aren’t around the services all the time. Examples: in the last few years (and I’m just remembering off the top of my head here, not searching) our local news has carried stories about store windows in town being blown out by engine detonations at the test range, experimental chaff systems blocking weather radars without warning, workplace accidents resulting in hospitalization from mishandled grenades, full scale emergency response mobilization exercises, aircraft practice runs over neighborhoods, known foreign state spies in the business community, and (now debunked) stories about nuclear weapons stored on base. In the town I grew up in, there was a chemical weapons storage facility that, if there was an accident and the wind was in the right direction, could kill everyone in three major cities in two adjoining states.
I honestly take it for granted that there are ISIS sympathizers in our area. It’s not even a question for me. And I take it for granted that not every refugee that we take in will be happy that they are here. Hell, I wouldn’t be happy if you forced me to leave my home and travel across an ocean for safety. But that’s not the point.
To me, the point is that there are people. REAL, HUMAN people. Moms and dads and babies and young men and women and old men and women who need our help. That we are supposedly the greatest country on earth, built off the hard work and acceptance of hundreds of years of immigrants and refugees looking for a better life, a safe place, hope and possibility ourselves. To me, being an American is about this:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
We need to lift that lamp and show our compassion and our humanity and put the wealth that we have to use for good. We need to be the light; we need to lead by example. Because otherwise, we are morally bankrupt.
For my own sanity, I’m closing comments on this one. If you disagree – well, I can just about assure you I’ve already heard your argument somewhere in my facebook feed today and it didn’t change my mind then, and it’s not going to now.