We keep thinking about what might happen if we do accept Syrian refugees. But perhaps we need to think about what will happen if we don’t accept Syrian refugees.
If we do accept refugees from Syria we are nervous that terrorists may make it to America. I am a true chicken. I understand fear. It feels scary to host people who could harbor hate against us. We are assured that we screen refugees with such care that it is highly unlikely anyone could get through the process but we remember Boston and those Tsarnaev brothers who came in as refugees and were radicalized once they were here. Our fears are not baseless but we must admit that the number of refugees that might become bad actors will be very small. We live almost daily with shootings. These threats hardly seem different from the many mass shootings we have experienced. As for enabling an enormous influx of rabid terrorists – only a full scale invasion could do that and I don’t think our enemies have that capability yet.
The reasons, beyond the humanitarian ones, in favor of accepting Syrian refugees are much more compelling. First, we cannot afford to let the Republicans, who want to get elected in 2016, play us. If they make us frightened enough and then offer to save us with their toughness they believe this fear will drive us to put a Republican in the White House. Please prove to the GOP that you are not that easily manipulated.
An even greater reason why we have to fight our fears and accept Syrian refugees is because we owe it to our allies in Europe and elsewhere. We have hung back in two world wars because they did not begin in America, but we eventually fought with our allies when we understood that if our friends lost we would only have enemies left.
This time the “war” began with us, very dramatically, on 9/11. This attack was a game changer and our old friends stood with us once more. Now we must not try to isolate ourselves even though our fears may prove real (although, I suspect, not on the scale GOP candidates warn of). We must stand with the friends we have forged as we have battled to keep the free world free. We must even accept old opponents as allies for as long as they prove true to our common goals. We cannot expect Europe to deal all alone with people fleeing terrorists. Even though there is a big ocean between us we cannot afford to use this geographical advantage to remain relatively safe and aloof. I doubt it will work for long and, in the end, we will wish we had stuck with our alliances.
More selfishly, flooding Europe with refugees could put Europe’s economy in jeopardy. Our economic fates are tied together and are just one aspect of the ways in which our individual existences as powerful political entities are closely connected.
We are Americans. We need to suck it up and stand with our friends.
Note: (According to an article in the NYT on 11/25/15 the Tsarnaev brothers were not in America as refugees. They were granted political asylum.)
By Nancy Brisson