Letter: Turning away refugees not in our character

From: Michael Greven


The past few weeks have been hard on most of the people of the world. There is no question that there are a lot of problems, and there is also no question that there is real reason for anger and fear. Without question the events in Beirut, Paris and Egypt have made it clear that terrorists are seeking to destroy our way of life. Regrettably, national political figures are utilizing the agony of others to further their political careers in the most perverse of ways.

The Republican presidential candidates are trying to outdo one another in their vitriolic hate-mongering rhetoric. The theme of the day is to ban all Syrians and Muslims from entering the U.S. As if that level of ignorance is not enough, now we have governors clamoring to be the loudest to insist that no Syrians can be resettled in their states.

The people who are trying to resettle are also those who have been directly impacted by the atrocities inflicted by ISIL. Do we really think that these emigrants want to leave their homes? That mothers with their infants are likely to commit a heinous crime? That Syrian children are terrorists and that all Muslims should not be allowed to enter the country? That young families would rather give up their homeland and move to an area that is unknown and very much different in culture and language?

This political rhetoric and hate mongering serve to inflame the legitimate fear many people have and does absolutely nothing to improve the situation. These candidates and governors do not represent the America that I call home, nor do they represent the values that have made this country great. Emma Lazarus summed it up best in her poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” That poem of compassion can be found on the Statue of Liberty. and it is that spirit that has made us what we are today. Those words of welcome need to be honored. There is not a candidate or governor who has the right to deliver any other message to the world.

The federal government has the means and methods to determine who can be welcomed into this country. It has been doing it for a long time and has been largely successful. We need to be cautious and prudent as we get involved in assisting with a huge migration of humanity, but we do not need to be bigoted, hateful and without compassion. I do not share the language, religion or culture of the Syrians who would like to immigrate to the U.S., but I do share their humanity and I look forward to their becoming happy and productive citizens in this country.