By Tom Quiner
This is the headline I used in a post a few days ago along with this political cartoon.
It generated some pushback. Here’s one nuanced response:
“Er … and this is a reasoned, well-thought out mature response is it, Tom?”
My response: Er, it’s called political satire. The cartoon captures the concerns of most Americans that ISIS wants to import terrorists into our homeland. We know this is true, because they’ve told us.
The cartoon perfectly captures the dilemma.
Here’s a less nuanced response:
“Which refugee dilemma are you referring to? Is it that if you refuse to help anyone, you’re playing Russian roulette in terms of radicalising more people both overseas and within your borders? Or is it the Russian roulette in terms of going against the clear teachings of Jesus? Playing with your eternal soul, so to speak.
Or maybe it’s just the Russian roulette with your human conscience – sitting in your comfortable life in the richest country in the world, refusing to help people in desperate need because you don’t like foreigners (and can’t even hide from yourself that the security red herring would cut both ways and is therefore irrelevant).”
In spite of the writer’s lack of nuance, let’s try to find some common ground.
COMMON GROUND–> The United States is welcoming to refugees, having accepted close to half a million since 2009, about the size of Central Iowa. The amount is capped each year by the president in consultation with Congress.
The proposed cap for next year is 85,000 refugees.
The only question is: from where will they come? Syria is but one nation persecuting their countrymen. Refugee situations exist in the Mideast, Africa, and East Asia. To which persecuted group should we open our doors?
So, on what basis should we admit refugees? President Obama insists that religion should have nothing to do with it:
When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted … that’s shameful…. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
COMMON GROUND–> But in fact, a religious test is not only American, it is the law when considering which refugees to admit. It’s spelled out in section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. code. An alien applying for admission to the U.S. …
must establish that … religion [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.
Mr. Obama may not like the law. But it is his job to execute the law.
COMMON GROUND–> The code is specific in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title 8, U.S. code on exactly what the term refugee means:
The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion [among other things] …[.]
Let’s face it, Christians are being persecuted, burned alive, raped, beheaded for their religious faith by Islamic terrorists throughout the world, but especially in territory controlled by ISIS.
Interestingly, I have not heard of a single instance of any Christian burning, raping, or beheading a Muslim for their faith anytime in my lifetime.
So, regarding the specific Syrian situation, we have even more common ground. According to U.S. law, there would be little disagreement on admitting Christian refugees. But because of ISIS’ stated intent to export their vicious brand of terrorism to the U.S. homeland, we would be foolish to rush the vetting process that attempts to sort out Islamic killers trying to sneak into the U.S.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, says we need to be careful:
“We cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”
The United States is the most compassionate nation in the history of the world. There is little doubt that we will at some point accept some Syrian refugees escaping ISIS anti-Christian persecution.
But it is the president’s job to enforce the laws on the book and vet incoming refugees with Americans’ security in mind.
We can all find common ground on that.