by Tori Cappo
After the Paris attacks, France made it clear that it would continue with its plan to accept 30,000 Syrian refugees. As the United States debates its current policy to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, it’s time to face facts: We need to offer help when people are in danger. We are wasting precious time, in which refugees are afraid and in need of help. This issue is rooted in morality, and now is the time to address our prejudices.In his speech on Sunday, President Obama spoke about the recent shooting in San Bernardino, saying, “Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving in to fear.”
As the president encourages Americans to embrace the values embedded in the Constitution, presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush ignore the core value of freedom of religion. In an interview with ABC News days after the Paris attacks, Jeb Bush said, “There are no Christian terrorists.” His bias is appalling—the candidate is apparently blind to the fact that by a large margin, the majority of terrorist attacks in the U.S. are carried out by Americans themselves. To clarify, about 83 percent of Americans identify as Christian, according to abcnews.go.com.
Cruz and Bush said they would make an exception for Christian Syrian refugees to enter the country. Essentially, they are asserting that in order for Americans to feel safe, we must deny others the constitutional right to practice religion freely.
By proposing to welcome only Christians into the U.S., government leaders fail to realize that Muslim refugees and terrorists do not share the same values.
Many Syrian refugees are families attempting to escape a war-ridden country; they are desperate to raise their children in safety.
Bottom line: Syrian refugees are people too—people who have every right to live.
While it is obvious that refugees are humans, Americans have become experts at antagonizing and dehumanizing innocent people. The fact that Syrian refugees do not all worship God the same way as a group of U.S. citizens should not matter in a nation founded on the principle of freedom of religion.
If terrorists plan to attack our country, there is really no way to make our borders impenetrable. What we can do is protect others from immediate danger.
Since the Syrian crisis began in 2011, the U.S. has spent $4 billion in humanitarian aid, making us the largest contributor to the relief, according to time.com.
As 11 million Syrians have fled their country—half of the population—the U.S. must address the crisis now extending outside the country’s borders. Financial aid has not and will not be enough to sustain lives.
As Americans and as humans, it is our responsibility to care for those who, due to terrorism, have been left with nothing. We must offer others the opportunities that we have received simply by being born in the United States: the chance to choose our lives, or at the very least, to live.