And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
That’s the closing two lines of our fabled national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. And yet, when it comes to the latest fervor over accepting Syrian refugees into the United States, Republicans, some Democrats and whoever else, seem to be changing the lines to:
O’er the land of the security and the home of the cowardly!
France’s Pres. Hollande said he’s committed to taking in 30,000 refugees over the next two years since France has a “duty to honor that commitment” and “life must go on.”
Meanwhile, we “might” take 10,000 over the next year, which would represent only .0025 percent of the 4 million refugees from Syria. To date since 2011, we’ve taken in only 1,500.
Rest assured, had we suffered an event like Paris did, it would be even harder to bring just those 10,000 in. And yet, the meme is that the French are cowards (not that they are particularly great with how they treat French Muslims, but that’s a different discussion).
Then there is the poisoned M&Ms bowl analogy I heard Glenn Beck use on his radio show yesterday (and others) in reference to Syrian refugees and it might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. For a number of reasons, but primarily among them, who wants to live their life afraid of everything? You know how many things could kill us today externally and internally?
Not to say anything of the fact that we are living in by far the most nonviolent time in human history. And that your chances of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States are less than your chances of drowning in your bathtub this morning.
Statistically speaking, your chance of being a victim of a terrorist attack in the United States is basically zero.
Look, we can go through how gaining refugee status is incredibly arduous and takes 18-24 months. We can talk about how most of the Syrian refugees are under 18 years of age. We can talk about unlikely it is that a terrorist would be able to get through all of that.
My argument is bigger than that. I’ll accept your premise that no security measures are 100% foolproof. It presents us with a glaring inconsistency in the conservative reaction to bringing in refugees. “What if one of them is a terrorist? What if a terrorist gets through?” Any liberal or progressive worth his or her brain only has to apply that argument to guns and background checks to expose the inconsistency.
My answer that closes the gap on both fronts and, it’s not the pretty answer: a free and open society inherently has risks. It is worth assuming those risks for the inherent goodness a free and open society provides.
In other words, even if I granted the irrational fear (and its also xenophobia and Islamophobia) that a terrorist could come in with the Syrian refugees, so what? We have protection agencies at every level of government and intelligence agencies galore.
It’s time for America to grow some compassion and balls. And to stop putting security and fear before freedom and openness. It’s time to be brave. If you need any extra encouragement…
Fun fact, which somehow isn’t part of her story despite how popular her Diary remains: Anne Frank’s father, Otto, tried to get them to the United States, but was denied entry, even with a connection to the son of the owner of Macy’s and friend to Elanor Roosevelt.
Anne’s mother, Edith, wrote to a friend in 1939: “I believe that all Germany’s Jews are looking around the world, but can find nowhere to go.”
Yep, the State Department worried that Jews would be coerced into beingNazi spies.
It is apparent that “never forget” is forgotten at the moment of the next crisis. And that land of the free and home of the brave is easily dismissed when we’re scared.