The Refugee Debate: An Editorial

By Grace Deitzler, Editorial Writer

Often, I argue the opposite viewpoint of an issue, even if I disagree with it. I find it a solid means of ensuring full understanding of my own opinions and views. That said, I will now offer my two cents on the current refugee crisis:

Firstly, Americans must accept the FACT that “terrorist threats” will persist regardless of whether refugees are accepted into the country or not. That is, we could close the borders TODAY, and it still would not guarantee threats would not gain entry to the nation.

Once we accept the fact that “terrorist threats” are present regardless of our stance on refugees, we can then address how to best minimize that threat. On one hand, we can turn away all refugees, lock down our borders and rest secure in the knowledge that a terrorist operative will not be able to pose as a refugee in the U.S. On the other, we allow the refugees to come in and escape their war-torn regions (and persecution), exposing us to potential infiltrators.

Despite the American extremists’ attempts to paint the conversation with this overly-simplistic brush, the situation is not so cut-and-dry. The FACT (yes, FACT) is that a policy of refugee refusal will guarantee ISIS a tremendous recruitment pool of angry, disenfranchised people desperate for a savior, thus increasing their sphere of influence (and correlated threat-level) exponentially. Conversely, accepting refugees drastically reduces said “recruit demographic.”

So that leaves only two relevant questions worth answering with respect to this issue:

  1. Between increasing ISIS recruitment demographics exponentially and taking the chance that a handful of operatives will pose as refugees, which scenario represents the larger threat probability?
  2. Do we want to be a people who act from love, or from fear?

Remember folks, the threat exists regardless of whether we let these people escape their warzones or not. Like Woody Harrelson said in Natural Born Killers:

“Only love can kill the demon.”

But sadly, love is not on the hearts and minds of many people in both the U.S. and around the world at this time.  Instead, fearmongering and hypocritical arguments about security, safety and judging entire groups by the actions of a few dominate the conversation.  The same lawmakers who insist that all gun-owners not be held personally responsible for the actions of a handful of individuals turn around and say that all Syrian refugees ought to be kept out of the country because “some of them might be terrorists.” The logical fallacy here is just maddening for anyone like myself who appreciates intellectual consistency, and ultimately results in irrational, xenophobic behavior.

I remember learning about MacCarthyism and the Red Scare when I was a child back in the 1980s.  I remember thinking how lucky I was to be living in an America that had found its way beyond those horrible practices that, upon reflection, reminded me of how the Salem Witch Trials were conducted in the 17th century.  I remember sharing those feelings of good fortune with my parents.

Now, almost 30 years later, I see history literally repeating itself in the U.S.  I read and hear anti-Muslim commentary that puts anything MacCarthyists ever said about communists to shame. I see callous Americans ready to forsake thousands of people who desperately need compassion because, “Muslims want a caliphate in America,” or “ISIS will sneak operatives in with the refugees,” or “they should be willing to stay and fight for their country,” or some other such nonsense that boils down to one fundamental truth: they are afraid showing compassion is synonymous with showing weakness.

Of course, nothing is further from the truth.  We face a choice as a nation, the outcome of which will define us as a people for decades, if not centuries, to come.  Either we forego compassion in the name of security, or we risk a security breach while demonstrating that we are a nation of love and compassion.

The neo-MacCarthyists of 2015 insist that Muslims from Syria and other nations in the Middle East be kept out of America because letting them in poses a “threat to our way of life.”  What they appear not to realize, however, is that such fear-based policies have ALREADY DESTROYED a good portion of the “American way of life,” and continuation of said policies will only serve to accelerate that destruction. Perhaps once we arrive at the razor-wire checkpoints and are compelled to show our papers as we travel down the Interstate, then we can all rest easy knowing the “Muslim threat” is no match for the might of the American Police State.