The truth is complicated.
Few issues in foreign policy have been as ideologically polarizing as the decision on whether to allow Syrian refugees to find sanctuary in the United States.
No matter which side you come down on, if your opinion on this issue isn’t complicated, you are wrong.
It is interesting to watch good people try to justify their intransigent position that no refugees should be allowed into our country. They understand that these people are fleeing their homes because they aren’t safe in a country with a lingering civil war. They also know that many of these people share physical characteristics with the people who flew planes into buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, and most recently bombed and shot people near soccer matches, restaurants and entertainment venues in Paris. Bringing these people in could result in accidentally bringing in terrorists.
They know that keeping people out leaves impoverished refugees with no assistance from the one country in the world that can help the most.
They seek scriptural references like the story of the Good Samaritan and try to justify their fears because the Good Samaritan left the wounded traveler in a hotel and didn’t take him to his own home. To say that is a real stretch is an understatement. But they don’t want to feel bad about the fact that their fear of terror overwhelms their urge to help.
Others fear terrorists so much that they don’t take into account what a bad plan this would be for a terrorist. There are a dozen ways to get into this country that would be faster and easier than posing as a refugee.
Of course, a terrorist might choose this course simply to make a political point that even bringing in refugees is dangerous. It’s possible. It isn’t likely, but it wasn’t likely that four airplanes could be simultaneously hijacked and used as weapons 14 years ago.
Terrorists can’t match us weapon for weapon. Their “successful attacks” usually only result in 100 deaths. One or two of our well-placed bombs can double that death toll in an instant.
But those 130 deaths at a soccer match and entertainment venues in Paris makes free people feel less safe in their freedom. That is a win to a terrorist who is willing to use his own body as a weapon delivery system.
I don’t envy the President or Congress or the governors who all are acting in what they probably believe is in their best interest – both politically and in general.
It is a tough decision, but if my family or I were killed because we offered an act of kindness and someone killed us for it, I would be fine with that. I also know that my family and I are far more likely to be killed by an American gun fetishist who goes bonkers while in possession of dozens of weapons and shoots up a theater, school or mall.
Surprisingly, no Republican governors react with speed and congruity to fight those threats, as they did in an attempt to keep Syrian refugees out.
Instead of acting together and trying to make sure we help people who need help while trying to keep the country safe, President Obama, Congress and the presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle are trying to score political points with the debate.
Obama attacked Chris Christie and Ted Cruz for being against allowing refugees in the country.
“At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me,” President Obama said.
Thanks to those attacks, we now know what it would have sounded like if Mr. Haney on Green Acres got into a bar fight.
“Insult me to my face,” Cruz said in his the strangest tough guy voice ever.
Unlike a couple dozen Governors and a handful of Presidential candidates, Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell isn’t afraid to bring Syrian refugees to America.
“While I have focused my comments on actions we should take to eliminate ISIS, one action we should not take is to become like them. America is a lamp that lights the horizon of civilized and free mankind. The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly,” Russell said in a speech delivered on the House floor on Nov. 18. “But if we use our passions and our anger, fear, and we use that to snuff our her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. We have played into their hands. Period.”
In fact, France, the latest country hit by these terrorists, still plans to take in 30,000 refugees over the next two years.
Honestly, if someone is against bringing these refugees here because of the elevated risk of terrorism, I may disagree, but I understand the concern.
I would also disagree with bringing any refugee into the country without a secure process to ensure our safety.
But in the end, if I am going to make a mistake, I would rather make the mistake of helping people who would hurt me instead of hurting those who need my help.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kent Bush: Making sense of political gray areas in the refugee crisis
The truth is complicated.