After the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, a hue and cry has gone out calling for the rejection of Syrian refugee settlement in the United States. Normally, these demands have taken the form of ignorant rants and memes on Facebook or other social media sites. Not to be outdone by the racist yokels that populate the World Wide Web, a plethora of state governors have drawn their proverbial lines in the sand, stating that they will not ‘allow’ Syrian refugees to enter their states. Guess they don’t know much about immigration law, the vetting process and what they can and can’t do, do they?
Drowning in a sea of intolerance, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright penned an op-ed piece for Time magazine which should remind us all of who we are and from whence we came. In response to the calls to reject Syrian refugees, Albright writes:
I am deeply disturbed by the calls to shut our nation’s doors to properly vetted Syrian refugees fleeing terrorism and persecution in their native land. These proposals are motivated by fear, not by the facts, and they fly in the face of our country’s proud tradition of admitting refugees from every corner of the globe and every faith background. We have always been a generous nation, and we have in place a rigorous process for refugee resettlement that balances our generosity with our need for security. It works, and it should not be stopped or paused.
Albright knows of what she speaks. Sixty-seven years ago, she and her family were Czech exiles emigrating to the United States. She expresses her gratitude to the country that made her welcome, and reminds us that the Syrian refugees are no different from other persecuted groups who have looked to the U.S. for shelter, including Jews, Serbs, Somalis, Vietnamese and many more.
Speaking of the terror Syrians are facing in their homeland and ISIS’ attempts to destroy the region, Albright reminds us of American history and the need to maintain our “international credibility.” Cutting through the rhetoric that abounds in the wake of the Paris attacks, Albright reminds us:
Our enemies have a plan. They want to divide the world between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between the defenders and attackers of Islam. By making Syrian refugees the enemy, we are playing into their hands. Instead, we need to clarify that the real choice is between those who think it is OK to murder innocent people and those who think it is wrong. By showing that we value every human life, we can make clear to the world where we stand.
Well said, Madam Secretary.
Featured image courtesy of screen capture.