Last week, Indiana once again made the national news for the wrong reasons.
A family of refugees from war-torn Syria, scheduled to be settled in Indianapolis after a three-year wait, was diverted to Connecticut at the last minute after the state announced that they would not be allowing any Syrian refugees. Unlike with the RFRA earlier this year, Indiana’s no outlying pariah on this, as 30 others states said the same thing. That doesn’t make it right, though, and the fact that this hasn’t seen the same level of outrage is frankly troubling.
I understand that people are on edge about ISIS after the Paris attacks. However, consider a couple facts:
- It takes up to several years for refugees to be vetted and granted asylum in the U.S.
- In the case of Paris, most of the attackers were European.
- The 9/11 hijackers entered the country legally on regular visas.
None of this necessarily completely precludes the possibility of an extremist entering the country disguised as a refugee, but it seems rather impractical and improbable. On the other hand, closing the country to all Syrians will certainly deny the chance at a normal life to families fleeing those very terrorists.
Remember after 9/11 when everyone said “the terrorists win” if we did or didn’t so something? Well, I don’t think terrorists have the power to destroy America, as far as the ideas and values for which we stand. Only we can do that by choosing to succumb to our fears and abandon those values.
We chose to build this security state leviathan that threatens the right to privacy. We chose to disregard morality and civil rights by adopting torture during the War on Terror. Terrorists attacked us, but they didn’t force us to do either.
And now with this refugee situation, we face another choice about the fabric of our identity. While racism and anti-immigrant sentiment have existed throughout our history, the fact is that our country always has always taken in those looking for a better life. That is who we are, and it is a moral good. And for it to end would be a tremendous moral loss.
Moreover, this Thursday begins the time of year about giving and spreading goodwill to your fellow man. Well, if we can’t do so for those who really need it, the whole season seems rather meaningless.