The debate over whether the United States should accept tens of thousands of Syrian refugees dominates Congressional debates, the Presidential campaign and water coolers nationwide. A simple observation of social media trends over the week after the Paris terrorist attacks show two diametrically opposed emotional arguments: “Let them all in or else you are a racist” and “Keep all of them out because we don’t want them here.” The juvenile behavior and playground arguments do not stop with the knee-jerk random poster, President Obama displayed his level of eloquence by accusing Republican opponents of his plan to bring in a plethora of Muslim refugees from the fighting in Syria of being afraid of “women and orphans.”
The truth is, before taking a real side on this issue, it is important to understand the dilemma the United States leadership needs to weigh: Our obligation as a world power to provide asylum vs. the protection or its own citizens. A thoughtful look at both points provides a better perspective to what Congress and President Obama are wrestling with.
First, the U.S. has historically (at least in theory) provided a safe haven for political prisoners and refugees from other nation’s oppressive governments. Examples include many Soviet defectors during the Cold War, Cubans on a “wet foot, dry foot” policy and some prominent figures. On the other hand, the nation under the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration notoriously refused to accept German Jews into the U.S. who fled Germany. We also have extremely loose enforcement of illegal immigration by native Mexicans. Interestingly, the INS does take a hard line when it comes to tossing out intelligent college students who study here and would otherwise want a path to citizenship.
On the other side, the United States and the Western world have been pulled into a war on Islamic terrorist organizations. One can say this grudge has been going on for several centuries, but has come to its worst thanks to modern technology and the relative ease for groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS to access deadly weapons. As the President proposes bringing in over 100,000 extra refugees in the coming years, with the focus mainly on Islamic refugees from Syria at this point, the educated suspicion is ISIS sending in some of their own with the group of those fleeing. President Obama insists this will not happen, but can we seriously believe the likes of ISIS would not adhere to the honor system and not take the opportunity to sneak some dangerous people in via the mass influx? Considering the fact that Islamic terrorist organizations have historically tortured women and children, sent human beings into the world as portable bombs and used passenger planes as guided missiles, one would have to be completely naïve to believe ISIS would not attempt to taint the hordes coming into the western nations.
Still, Washington’s supporters are quick to point out the nation’s customary vetting process for refugees. It would be fair to claim our overwhelming percentage of success over the past century. It would, however, also be logical to point out there will most likely be very little information available to properly weed out every potential terrorist. Even a military background check did not put a red flag on Nedal Hassan.
It is also advisable to be suspicious of the motives of anyone who uses emotional arguments with an issue of this magnitude to manipulate their opposition and the overall citizenry. To eradicate any argument against letting the amount of Syrian Muslim refugees into the U.S., President Obama and the Democratic Party machine constantly use the word “fear” in an attempt to silence logical national security arguments to their agenda. The laughable term “Islamophobia” is a solid weapon against the easily manipulated, and winds up influencing those with already-dulled minds to clumsily attempt to wield that epithet. Obama constantly asserts those who disagree with him on the issue have let their fears control them, or are cowardly and “afraid of a bunch of widows and children.” He is merely the kid in the playground who tries to get the other kids to jump off a three-story school building by calling them “chicken” if they do not comply. Key buzzwords such as “fear” are meant to diffuse a logical argument through an emotional attack. The Obama administration has specialized in that and earned mistrust on several issues, including both foreign policy and immigration. Had the population truly been a fearful one, we would see a majority of people avoid going to ball games, concerts or commuting to major cities.
Americans who are against allowing the Syrian refugees are also infected by large masses who want to completely close off the US borders to them and anyone from a nation which sponsors terrorism. This is understandable considering the trouble we and other nations have had with undetected terrorists who have found their war in side target nations’ borders other ways. Also, there are national security reports exposing the weakness of our current vetting system versus the new enemies. The flaw is not in bringing the Syrian immigration influx to the nation, it is in the potential harm to some citizens and immigrants who expect proper protection by those elected to lead.
Still, if there is a way to upgrade the vetting process to an extremely high level before allowing refugees to take residence in the US, perhaps there is a way to both bring in some Syrian people and insure the safety of the nation’s current population. As the former most powerful nation in the world, the United States has served as World Police and World Safe Zone (to an extent). To claim the latter, it is important to try and find a way to allow threatened people to start a new life with our help. With all of this in mind, a vastly upgraded vetting system, strict admissions policy and a reasonable lowering of the numbers of Syrian immigrants would be the best way to quell the concerns of those on both sides of this issue.
Considering the passion involved with the discourse concerning the Syrian refugees, it is also important to raise these important questions surrounding overall Middle Eastern policy:
1. Why, suddenly, is Obama feverishly concerned about bringing in several Muslim refugees only from a war-torn area when he did not make any attempt to welcome Christian refugees who have been constantly tortured and murdered at the pleasure of radical Islamists? There are certainly several videos and reports depicting such atrocities, In fact, there are some missions in the region who are trying hard to take care of those fleeing persecution.
2. At what point will more people (besides only The Harbinger) start calling out the motives of those who constantly use emotional buzzwords to sway the masses? When someone who wants to push an agenda says the opposition is against it only out of “fear” or “hate,” too many others back down as those terms are embedded in their fragile psyches. It is time to stop allowing this and call the emotional manipulators out for what they really are: lying politicians who substitute feelings for logical discussion.
3. Can we really expect most Americans to trust the current administration to handle any background checks for the refugees considering the overall foreign policy agenda? It is important to remember the Obama administration has a history of weakening its own leverage when it comes to dealing with Middle Eastern leaders: Obama and his State Department gave up 5 Taliban leaders in exchange for deserter/traitor Bowe Bergdahl, failed to upgrade security at US embassies in the Middle East on the anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks resulting in unnecessary deaths of diplomats in Benghazi, ended sanctions and gave 150 billion dollars in taxpayer money to Iran without even attempting to negotiate the freedom of the honest servicemen being held prisoner there and have let Vladimir Putin run wild.
Somewhere between extreme compassion for the Syrian refugees and the need to keep out citizens safe by every means, reason exists. There are people who need the help of the western nations, but a government’s concern at first needs to be concerned with the safety of its own people. While The Harbinger’s suggestion above can work, the mistrust on both sides in Washington needs to end for a short while to create a manageable situation heeding both portions of out nation’s dilemma.