Refugees

We are commanded to accept refugees.

That’s the entire argument. When people are fleeing a war zone, and escaping from a force that quite simply wishes to eradicate them as if scrubbing out a stain, it doesn’t even matter that the situation is so dire that these people must be referred to as “…surviving members of a family.”

The scale of the crisis is immaterial. People are fleeing the homeland that their families have known for several generations, carrying only what they were able to gather up in the two minutes they had before they fled. We are commanded to accept them. The order comes from the highest possible authority: our humanity.

The US has often refused safe haven to entire populations escaping — let’s be clear and efficient here — “near-certain death.” Have historians ever examined those decisions decades later, with the benefit of perspective and data that were unavailable to people at the time, and declared “Yup. That was totally the right call”?

I bet the answer’s “No.”

This is easy and obvious. I’m certain that you agree with me.

And if you encounter someone who thinks otherwise…help them out. Ask them if they’re religious. If they are, tell them to open up the drawer in the nightstand next to their bed and take out whatever leatherbound book they find in there. They should keep flipping through it until they find the page where it says “You are commanded to help innocent people who are fleeing near-certain death. Not despite the fact that they’re strangers to you, and there’s no benefit to doing so, and doing so might be very hard. You must do it because of those things.”

If they get frustrated after the first few minutes and begin to protest, calm them down and encourage them to keep right on looking because it’s definitely in there somewhere.

56 thoughts on “Refugees

  1. Jason D.

    Of course, there is concern based on the current climate of the world. It doesnt matter if those concerns are real or imagined, they still concern the masses. We have to acknowledge them, and not ignore them.

    Personally, I’d be comfortable with women and children and males over the age of 50. This age is above the normal “fighting” age. Of course background checks will be done, but it’s hard to do them when they have fled their country. They don’t have passports, birth certificates, because they fled in such a hurry. Anyone that actually has them should be questioned.

    I think this topic is easier than just saying, black or white, right or wrong. There are so many angles and it is a hard situation, for everyone involved. I just hope our government does the right thing, brings in the ones that aren’t a threat and refuse those that are.

    Now that I think about it, the problem isn’t the refugees, it’s the trust in the government to do the right thing. They havent had a great track record lately. (sorry for long post. I enjoy the blog).

  2. Ihnatko Post author

    I think there’s a risk in accepting any sufficiently-large group of people into a community. Lawmakers are executing fast, dramatic moves based on hypothetical threats; if they’re going to mess with actual human lives, they should make their case and present something firmer.

    Even a risk assessment backed by data has to be weighed against the humanitarian benefit to giving so many thousands of people safe harbor, as well as the things that these people (and the children and grandchildren who are born and raised here) will contribute to our society.

  3. Bill

    The US has already excepted 70% of all refugees officially designated so by the UN. My humanity does not beg me to accept more. It’s being said that 70% of the refugees (sic) currently invading Europe are male young adults. Hardly families escaping tyranny.

    Andy – flat out. You can’t just basically open your doors to everybody that wants to come here. Beyond the basics of how to take care of tens of thousands (millions?) of people – THAT DO NOT WANT TO ASSIMILATE INTO OUR CULTURE, you’re opening the doors to thousand and thousands of very bad people. Why are we always so quick to accept the dregs of mankind?

  4. Ihnatko Post author

    An open immigration policy — anyone who shows up can become permanent residents — is a bad idea. But what about applying the same rules, and the same federal-level screening, to everybody?

    As for people who don’t want to assimilate into our culture, I assume you’re speaking in general and not of any one specific group. I think that kind of immigrant is rare. Even those who do exist will raise kids who will be Americans, culturally, no matter what their parents want.

  5. SteveO

    We are a nation of laws, although founded on Christian values the framers saw the need to separate state from church.

    It’s really quite simple, apply the law to the problem. The border is open to those that qualify. If the numbers are too large to process, get in line somewhere outside the country.

    Those fleeing aren’t necessarily innocent as they, to some degree, allow radical Islam to develop and coexist.

  6. Scott Darlington

    I’m Canadian and I wanted to provide my perspective. Canada is not a melting pot and is, instead, “multi-cultural”. That is, we explicitly invite people to retain their culture when they settle in Canada and that’s respected by most. We haven’t become a hot bed of terrorism. So, based on my personal experience, I don’t worry about people that don’t choose to assimilate (though the children of immigrants almost always do).

    As you can imagine, I strongly agree with Andy’s point. Though it’s true, as an earlier poster pointed out, that fear is dominating the dialog at the moment, this is the time to provide facts, which show how tiny the risk really is. Besides, do you stand by your principles only when there’s no risk to you, or are they truly your principles (to help those in need, in this case)? That’s the fundamental question as I see it.

  7. JD

    But hey, maybe send these refugees to Mizzou or Yale where our panty waste fascist liberal social justice warriors (read: whiney children) require their “safe spaces” – I’m sure they will be able to handle the Muslim culture just fine…

    There is such a lack of critical thinking about the whole refugee situation. Its just people blindly taking sides and interpreting history or the Bible or whatever else to fit their argument.

  8. Ihnatko Post author

    I’ll keep this comment up because of your second paragraph. Your first one is a bit more ad-hominem that I’m comfy with…I’d love it if you deleted and resubmitted it, but I’ll leave that up to you.

  9. Ihnatko Post author

    Why do you think Canada is different? And do you think your government and society treat First Nations peoples better than the US treats its Native American peoples?

  10. Tom Busby

    Well said Andy! I have listened to you for years on MacBreak Weekly. You have always impressed me with your views on many subjects. I am religious and I agree with you 100%. It’s in there but many refuse to see it and that scares the heck out of me. For me personally, it is a combination of my faith and my humanity that drives me to have compassion for the refugee. But as you stated in is only necessary that our humanity drives us to come to this conclusion. Keep up the good fight!

  11. Tom Estes

    Would your humanity cause you to let just anyone come and stay with you? What about down the hall? Across the street?

    You see, these arguments sound great when they’re abstract, but bring it home, and it’s different. If terrorists did to your neighborhood in Boston what they did in Paris, wouldn’t your attitude change? I imagine it would.

    Liberals in this country may mean well, but they have to wake up. NO ONE would let a group of 20 people move into their building if they thought there was a chance that one of them was a terrorist, even if it meant that group of people were forced to be homeless.

    Again, being nice is great, but nuance exists and we can’t treat this situation as if we’re simple.

  12. James Gleason

    Spot on! Here’s what my Book says…

    Top 10 Things the Bible Says About Refugees

    1. Love Refugees As Yourself
    When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

    2. Leave Food for the Poor and the Foreigner
    When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

    3. God Loves the Foreigner Residing Among You
    He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

    4. The Sin of Sodom: They Did Not Help the Poor and Needy
    Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

    5. Do Not Oppress a Foreigner
    Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

    6. Do Not Deprive Foreigners Among You of Justice
    “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

    7. Do Whatever the Foreigner Asks of You
    “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. (1 Kings 8:41-44)

    8. Leave Your Door Open to the Traveler
    No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler (Job, discussing his devotion to God) (Job 31:32)

    9. Invite the Stranger In
    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)

    10. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
    He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
    In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
    “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
    The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)

  13. Andrew

    (1) Abstract notions – such as “humanity” – can’t “command”. They can “compel”. But you’re anthropomorphising your particular view of humanity and putting words in its mouth to tell others what they must do.

    (2) Given that these people are *fleeing* their homelands because of persecution by a violent and – by our standards – lawless nation, would it not equally follow that we are commanded to go over there and protect them? Given a choice between “take refugee in someone else’s house” and “someone else come fix my house”, I’d much rather the latter. Yes, there’s a cost, but then there’s also a cost to resettle hundreds of thousands of people, a significant proportion of which don’t buy the authority of the universal “command” which you’re acting under.

    (I’m not anti-refugee, but mercy to all is by no means the only, or necessarily even best, solution)

    “This is easy and obvious” – no, it’s actually a bloody complex situation and pontificating as if some all-knowing authority (your gut?) has spoken the indisputable last word on the subject only suppresses a bunch of real issues.

  14. Andrew

    Additional thought: if “humanity” commands certain behaviour, it follows that anyone who rejects this is not human, or at least sub-human. This would particularly include those who are expelling the people from their homes and nations. Given that these people are sub-human, why then should we not simply conquer the land they occupy and give it back to those who deserve it?

  15. Ihnatko Post author

    Hi, Tom. I agree that an open-immigration policy would be bad news. However, our government puts immigrants claiming refugee status through an even more rigorous screening process than the others. I’m baffled and disappointed by state governors who insist that they will do everything they can to block Syrian refugees, specifically, from entering…as if they hadn’t already been put through intense scrutiny at the Federal level.

    I have indeed been put in the position where a total stranger’s safety was at risk if I didn’t offer them shelter. Some fool on a bicycle got caught outside in a full-on blizzard. I can’t say that it was a restful night, but I did it.

  16. AntiDem

    We are commanded by “our humanity” to accept them? Can I get that in writing from “our humanity”? Or is making up commandments from a non-existent authority now for atheists, too?

    “Our humanity” doesn’t issue me any commandments. My own capacity for reason does. And my capacity for reason tells me that accepting Muslims from war-torn lands into my country after what we saw in Paris last week is utter suicidal lunacy. Have we learned nothing from what happened there? Or from 9/11? Or from the Tsarnaev brothers? Your pathological altruism may drive you to wish to do suicidal things in the name of moral signaling, but count me out.

  17. Ihnatko Post author

    I feel that we don’t, morally, have the option of denying entry to refugees simply because they’re refugees. We can subject them to scrutiny, as we do all potential immigrants, but it’s wrong to bar people for the crime of being target for death by a regime in their nations of origin.

    Your second argument is a good one. Imposing a regime change upon another nation seems like it can sometimes be the right ethical choice. But whereas we rarely have the moral (to say nothing of the legal) authority to do that, we always have the authority to offer aid and shelter to those fleeing that situation.

  18. Ihnatko Post author

    The difficulty with that sentiment is how it singles out Muslims in particular. Bad people commit horrific acts under all faiths. I’m more concerned by the patterns of behavior and states of mind that produced the 9/11 attacks, or the 2011 Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords and 18 others, or the killing of 9 churchgoers in Charleston than I am about the religions of the perpetrators.

  19. J Osborne

    We should do it because it is right, sure. That is reason enough for me.

    Not for everyone though, so…

    Another reason to do it: our enemies (you know, the terrorists) don’t want us to. They have stated it quite clearly. Now this might be reverse psychology, but we have no sign that it is.

    It is unlikely to make it easier to “smuggle” terrorists into the country, after all who wants to pose as a refugee when it is so much simpler to pose as a Disneyland tourist with a visa and first class airfare? No, I don’t buy reverse psychology here at all.

    On the “saying what the mean front” our refusal to accept refugees makes us look evil or at the very least fearful, and that makes recruiting new terrorists easier.

    So from where I stand accepting refugees is the humane thing to do AND the safest thing to do.

    So if you can’t convince someone to do the right thing just because it is the right thing, explain how it is the safest thing too.

  20. AntiDem

    >I think that’s a semantic argument. When I say “we are commanded to help” I speak of a basic urge of society.

    I’m sorry, but this is more appeal to the invisible and unfalsifiable. What “basic urge of society”? It is your claim not only that such a thing exists, but that its existence is so momentous that it requires me to suspend my own capacity for reason and to defer to this thing instead. For reasons I’m sure you’ll understand, *any* claim that requires me to suspend my capacity for reason is the sort of extraordinary claim for which I’m going to require extraordinary evidence. I’m sure you’re familiar with Hitchens’s Razor, and I’m going to apply it in this case.

    So, what “basic urge of society”? What does that mean – to unquestioningly obey customs or majority opinion? And how does that even lead us to a requirement to accept refugees? Was it not a “basic urge” of Viking society to rape and pillage? Are we not glad that somewhere along the line, some Viking decided to use his capacity for reason to question that “basic urge”?

    >But whereas we rarely have the moral (to say nothing of the legal) authority to do that, we always have the authority to offer aid and shelter to those fleeing that situation.

    And what person, deity, or organization is granting or denying us this “moral authority”? What, if not our own capacity for reason?

    Let me say forthrightly that I opposed both the Bush and Obama Administrations’ interventions in the Middle East. They were awful ideas, but the only thing we owe the Middle East is to leave the people there in peace to settle their own affairs. There are 49 majority-Muslim countries in the world, and many (like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) are quite wealthy. Their religion commands them to care for their own; let them do so. Or not. Either way, it is not our problem and not our responsibility. I wish the people there well, but their problems are their own to fix, and their people are their own to take care of.

  21. Scott Boyd

    Andy, right on. Thank you for speaking out.

    James, thank you for pulling together the list. Those are in my book, too! That same book calls God’s people to account for their hard hearts. America, which side of God’s commands do you really want to be on?

  22. AntiDem

    >America, which side of God’s commands do you really want to be on?

    Shall I assume that this sentiment was widely shared by the same people who are making it now back during the gay marriage debate? Or is there perhaps something ideological that can be found behind this new wave of enthusiasm I’m seeing in some quarters for Bible-thumping?

  23. Brian Ansorge

    I have yet to hear from *any* of the sanctimonious and petulant “SJW” whiners—those making the wildest and most grandiose sounding claims of “authority,” sounding all the while like Quixotic rebels without a clue and demanding, as it were, the *we* do something—about any of *them* actually “manning-up” to accept *any* refugees to live in *their* homes.

    Just saying: hypocrisy is evil, and the ultimate form of intellectual dishonesty.

    No offense, but if you are the sort of person who deigns to speak as though you are some sort of mouthpiece for … [wait for it] … the rest of us, telling us about some mystical and magical mandate … or authority that allegedly *compels* and “demands” *us* to follow a specific course of action, than you better be able to back it up with some sort of action on *your* part that demonstrates *actual* willingness to shoulder at least a part of the real, calculable incurred risk and burden.

    Like, you know, refugees coming to live with you, and your family, in your house? How about that? Yep, some good old fashioned “put up or shut up!”

    The internet would have a lot less noise if all those pretending to have some moral upper ground and pointing fingers at the rest of us were to be taken to task and told “practice what you preach, or lose your bandwidth.”

    All I can say is (if you are *not* a flaming, disingenuous, full-on hypocrite), I might actually have some real respect if any of you were to actually “walk the walk.”

    Talk—as evidenced by just so much lofty, sentimental and histrionic-laden rhetoric—is cheaper than ever.

    Meanwhile, if the USA does not take even *one* Syrian refugee, I won’t lose any sleep or fear “judgement day” anymore than the average “pro-choice” pregnant woman would in *choosing* to end her unborn baby’s life—something horrifyingly bad and unthinkable to some, whose *own* Spiritual values and convictions tells them is unconscionable. I guess you could reasonably conclude that there are all types of “commands.”

    And, all it takes is a little money and digital brick and mortar to [voila!] pontificate, sermonize, and preach to the rest of us about your own very personal pet form of religiosity.

    C’est la vie.

    Unborn babies, murdered by the tens of thousand, here in the grand old US of A. We are commanded to let them live—by the highest authority.

    And Obama (along with his legion of sycophant, holier-than-though, “do-as-we-say” SJWs) says that *we* are also obliged to take in thousands of Syrian refugees? Because, you know, this same “command” thingy, or something? Authority, schmathority.

    Funny how this “command” thingy apparently only works or matters when invoked by elitists twits who imagine that *their* personal opinions and feelings are *really* better than those of others!

    In fact, I’m laughing, now, in spite of myself!

    Thanks.

    I needed that.

  24. Brian Ansorge

    I have yet to hear from *any* of the sanctimonious and petulant “SJW” whiners—those making the wildest and most grandiose sounding claims of “authority,” sounding all the while like Quixotic rebels without a clue and demanding, as it were, the *we* do something—about any of *them* actually “manning-up” to accept *any* refugees to live in *their* homes.

    Just saying: hypocrisy is evil, and the ultimate form of intellectual dishonesty.

    No offense, but if you are the sort of person who deigns to speak as though you are some sort of mouthpiece for … [wait for it] … the rest of us, telling us about some mystical and magical mandate … or authority that allegedly *compels* and “demands” *us* to follow a specific course of action, than you better be able to back it up with some sort of action on *your* part that demonstrates *actual* willingness to shoulder at least a part of the real, calculable incurred risk and burden.

    Like, you know, refugees coming to live with you, and your family, in your house. How about that? Yep, some good old fashioned “put up or shut up!”

    The internet would have a lot less noise if all those pretending to have some moral upper ground and pointing fingers at the rest of us were to be taken to task and told “practice what you preach, or lose your bandwidth.”

    All I can say is (if you are *not* a flaming, disingenuous, full-on hypocrite), I might actually have some real respect if any of you were to actually “walk the walk.”

    Talk—as evidenced by just so much lofty, sentimental and histrionic-laden rhetoric—is cheaper than ever.

    Meanwhile, if the USA does not take even *one* Syrian refugee, I won’t lose any sleep or fear “judgement day” anymore than the average “pro-choice” pregnant woman would in *choosing* to end her unborn baby’s life—something horrifyingly bad and unthinkable to some, and whose *own* Spiritual values and convictions tell them is unconscionable. I guess you could reasonably conclude that there must be all types of “commands!”

    And, all it takes is a little money and digital brick and mortar to [voila!] pontificate, sermonize, and preach to the rest of us about your own very personal pet form of religiosity.

    C’est la vie.

    Unborn babies, murdered by the tens of thousand, here in the grand old US of A. We are commanded to let them live—by the highest authority.

    And Obama (along with his legion of sycophant, holier-than-though, “do-as-we-say” SJWs) says that *we* are also obliged to take in thousands of Syrian refugees? Because, you know, this same “command” thingy, or something?

    Authority, schmathority.

    Funny how this “command” thingy apparently only works or matters when invoked by elitists twits who imagine that *their* personal opinions and feelings are *really* better than those of others!

    In fact, I’m laughing, now, in spite of myself!

    Thanks. I needed that. And, thanks, also, for sharing your opinion.

    Too bad *my* humanity is nonetheless unaffected, unimpressed and totally unfettered by any commands of any sort to feel even the slightest bit guilty if not even *one* Syrian refugee makes it to our shores.

    Just saying.

  25. James

    Refugees get too much attention anyway and money anyway. I mean next month there will literally be billions of dollars spent on ‘celebrating’ a bunch of Middle Eastern Refugees

    I think it’s called Christmas

  26. Tyr

    “People are fleeing the homeland that their families have known for several generations, carrying only what they were able to gather up in the two minutes they had before they fled.”

    Many of the immigrants reaching EU shores (from the long and arduous boat journey that’s 10km between Turkey and Lesbos, Greece) come carrying iPhones and selfie sticks ( http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/07/refugees-are-taking-celebratory-selfies-as-they-mark-the-beginning-of-a-new-life-5379030/ ). Either the above statement is false, or these people have really shitty priorities and/or sleep with their selfie sticks.

  27. Reydn

    Good argument. While I’m not sure where I stand on this issue, I think it’s clear the highest authority possible is God – though in that case the argument remains unchanged. As a Christian I can’t help but think Christ would accept refugees. He might acknowledge the need for some sort of system to limit entrance of terrorists, but He’d accept them.

  28. Ihnatko Post author

    Skepticism is healthy. But if I have two minutes to get out and start running, my iPhone is the second thing I grab, after my personal documents. :) Also, not everyone is so lucky to have a cellphone.

  29. Ihnatko Post author

    I’m glad to give you a forum. I disagree, but you yourself “walked the walk” — you used your real name and you kept on the right side of the line for civil discourse. I appreciate that.

  30. Mike

    Taking in refugee’s.

    Fine and dandy.

    But what has happened about taking care of our own first?

    We have homeless people in the streets around America.

    Americans will soon be 2nd class citizens while non aamericans receive all the “stuff”.

    Not to mention that we are currently 18.5 trillion in the hole give or ake a 100 billion.

    When does it all end? How long can we keep taking people in?

  31. Mike

    Quote:

    8. Leave Your Door Open to the Traveler
    No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler (Job, discussing his devotion to God) (Job 31:32)

    9. Invite the Stranger In
    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)

    I sure hope Obama leads by example. He he is a devote christian, I hope he follows through and invite Syrian refugees to stay at “his” house and he likes to call it.

  32. Mitch

    How many times has “regime change” worked for America? 10%? 20%? Never? Chile, Iran, Iraq, Libya? I’m still waiting for the incredible success stories of America’s freedom exports.

    Maybe it’s time to cut the defense budget in half, and devote that money to improving American schools and establishing a livable welfare program? It would cost conservatives nothing that they aren’t already paying, but it would improve the lives of the poor and those fleeing oppressive regimes.

    It’s nice to claim that we should leave the middle east to solve its own problems, but we’re way past that now. We’ve been meddling in their affairs for decades, and we destabilized the entire region by removing Saddam Hussein, so now we have a moral obligation to clean up the mess we created.

    Remember conservatives: it was President Reagan’s policies which gave us Al Qaeda. It was President Bush’s policies which gave us ISIL. We liberals are just cleaning up the mess bellicose conservatives couldn’t clean up with their optional wars to enrich their buddies at Lockheed, KBR, and Bechtel.

    This is not a complex problem, but it appears to be a complex problem to those who constantly live in fear, or sociopaths with massive inferiority complexes. Nobody is talking about housing refugees in your home, that’s a nice false dilemma you’ve created. We could create government housing for them, or use existing housing. These refugees are facing death, and the French are still taking them in, because they refuse to be cowed by the terrorists. Paris isn’t even in America, yet all sorts of pansies immediately began whining about how we need to prevent Syrians from coming here.

    The terrorists attacked France, and failed. They didn’t attack the United States, and succeeded. Fear, fear, be afraid, be afraid…the omnipresent rallying cry of red-state “taker-state” cowards with over-developed amygdalae and smaller-than-average genitalia, and two-digit I.Q.s to match their inability to understand reason or logic.

    Now THAT is how you write an ad hominem attack!

  33. David Scott

    Andy,

    I’m European, and I have to say, although your compassion is admirable you’re hugely oversimplifying the situation. Europe is in the middle of a migrant crisis, of which only a proportion are from Syria. Even the left-leaning BBC does not call them ‘refugees’ but ‘migrants’, until they achieve full refugee status. See here- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34131911
    Huge numbers of migrants are arriving from dozens of countries in Africa and Asia through people-traffickers, and other illegal means. In fact numbers from Syria this year are actually just over twice as many as from Afghanistan- arriving through Russia. Some are genuine refugees but only a small minority are facing “near-certain death” as you call it. What about those, who are just ‘seeking a better life’ and have heard that Europe has an open heart and an open border? You say checks are needed, but are you happy to refuse entry to those who can’t verify their story? Europe’s crisis is getting worse because the more people hear about the compassionate West, the more they are determined to reach its borders from all over Africa and Asia. The result will then be large ghettos of immigrants within Europe demanding their rights, then violent unrest within our own borders. And it’s already starting to happen. What we really need is change within these people’s own homeland to encourage them to stay.

  34. Brian Ansorge

    Hey Mitch!

    Not sure how “God” and the “Bible” got dragged into this [checking my previous post]. Nope. It wasn’t me.

    But, since you brought it up, Christ *did* say: “the poor you shall have with you … [wait for it] … *always.*”

    Emphasis, mine.

    Likewise, I am, in fact, poor and have been homeless most of the past 15 years. Slept in my car two nights this week.

    Don’t feel sorry for me; I live free—in America.

    I am thankful, truly thankful.

    I’m done here.

  35. John Abbe

    Brian – Also, there’s something profoundly illogical with this line of reasoning. We have government exactly for doing some of the kinds of things that we cannot do as individuals. I can’t do much to contribute to our sending robots to explore for life on the moons of Jupiter, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to advocate for my government doing so.

  36. Roger Wilson

    A depressing amount of fear expressed by some here, clearly equating refugees with terrorists and/or other forms of despicable human behavior (“what if they moved in…down the hall?” “Would you open YOUR house to a refugee”, etc.). By all means, hide the women and children.
    Brian, when you say that Christ said “the poor you shall have with you … [wait for it] … *always.*”, He didn’t mean you get to ignore them because somebody’s always going to be around harshing your mellow by needing something. He meant that the obligation of people of faith to continually demonstrate compassion for those in need will always be there. Every day, not just a Sunday/Sabbath thing. It’s hard, and sometimes frightening, but still the right thing to do.

    We’ll be OK. We went thru this before with the Irish.

    (Jews. Poles. Lithuanians. Puerto Ricans. Mexicans. Syrians.)

  37. John Abbe

    Again though the more important point is that citizens in a republic or democracy *do* deserve input even on issues where they cannot contribute directly.

  38. Marcos Malo

    Bill’s numbers are completely invented. The U.S certainly does not accept 70% of the refugees designated as such by the U.N. Complete balderdash from either uncritical ignorance or worse.

    Statements along the lines of “Well, let them stay at YOUR house if you want to let them in” are ludicrously off the mark. No private citizen is being asked by the government to personally house a refugee. It’s just the mean spirited and cynical rhetoric of a bully.

    I subscribe to the “you break it, you bought it” philosophy. I take personal responsibility for my actions, and we should take collective responsibility for our nation’s actions, even if we didn’t vote for the guy in charge. The birth of ISIS is directly attributable to two policies that followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq: the disbanding of the army and expelling all Baathists from the government (and hunting them down and torturing them). The founders of ISIS are all Iraqi ex-military leaders.

    The Middle East was already broken by the time the U.S. wielded influence in the area. But it’s hard to argue that we haven’t made it much worse in (at least) the last 12 years. Taking in refugees is the least we can do to take responsibility for terrible actions done in our name and with our consent.

  39. Ihnatko Post author

    I agree with that; the ideal situation would be for the US and other nations to do what they can to make homelands safe for those who call them home.

    My post was inspired by what I saw as cynical or hysterical grandstanding by governors to block Syrian refugees from settling in their states. These people would have already been scrutinized and deemed legitimately worthy by federal agencies; I’m suspicious of their stated reasoning that Indiana, say, would be overrun by terrorists.

    You’re closer to the epicenter of the crisis than I am. What I know about the situation that I don’t read from the news comes from a friend of mine who works with the UN, and who has been telling me about the worst of the situation for many, many months. Those stories alone convince me that the US needs a better reason to deny qualified refugees asylum than vague fears, you know?

  40. Kevin

    I’m disappointed that so many seem to feel so strongly about denying sanctuary to those escaping Syria. But I am not surprised. It serves to remind me that such a small number of people can ruin so much good, and how fear can change views so quickly.

    We are so far away from a world that lives up to its potential. It seems unlikely

  41. Scott Darlington

    Andy, you asked why I think Canada is different, and whether I think our government and society treats our First Nations people better than the US treats its Native American peoples.

    I think one key difference is that, for better or worse, Canada is more socialist than the US. I think we are more likely to look at someone in need as unfortunate rather than lazy or the author of his/her own misfortunes. However, the difference is not huge. Yes, there’s a difference in the average between Canada and the US, but the bell curves mostly overlap. With a more positive view of people, we’re more likely to focus on the need than the risk, but that’s just a guess on my part that seems plausible.

    We currently are in the midst of our own debates on refugees–our new Prime Minister campaigned on a promise to bring in 25,000 refugees buy the end of the year, though it’s now looking like 10,000 is all that can be done by the end of the year. We generally see a similarly wide set of views, though I don’t think any of our provincial governments have come out and rejected the idea of admitting any of these refugees.

    In the end, in all of my travels, I’ve found that everyone I’ve come across wants the same thing–opportunity and the ability to do right by their children. If only we could focus on the great common ground instead of the differences. (Granted, there are people who are rather forceful and even violent about those differences, but then “we” did the crusades, world wars, and so on–we ourselves are not innocent.)

    As for our treatment of our First Nations people, do you really want to start another contentious political thread?:-)

    I play pickup hockey with a First Nations individual and he’s thoroughly disgusted with the reservation system we have in place in Canada and the corruption he’s seen on his own reservation. He tells me that if you’re in with the chief, you live well, and if you’re not, you don’t live so well. He’s done well for himself in the high tech field, so that likely colours his views, to some degree. I think the system needs to change for the better, but it’s a very complex topic with lots of players, and lots of potential winners and losers.

    I really don’t know how the US treats its Native Americans so I don’t have an opinion on who’s doing “better” at it.

    Lastly, I must say that I think this is the most civilized discussion of a sensitive political topic I’ve ever come across. I hope that says more about the audience of this blog than it does of the blogs and forums I usually frequent. :-)

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