^ by the hundreds of thousands they trek, through weather and barbed wire, in search of life itself

—- —- —- —-

The millions of refugees from Syria deserve better than exploitation by political demagogues. The 65,000 or so who may be welcomed by our nation, subject to the draconian vetting process we require, deserve better than crossfire in our own war of loudmouths.

It was depressing — shameful — to see the avalanche of Republicans vilifying the refugees, or dividing them by religion (as if they haven’t had enough of that already, back home), shutting the door entirely on part or all who seek our safe shore. This is not who we are as a nation.

Yet it was almost as shameful to hear the partisan missiles shot by Democrats in the name of welcome. It is very easy to embrace the Syrian refugees when you’re not the one having to answer for mistakes in the vetting. It is also easy for partisan Democrats to attack Republicans for their admitted callousness, but then fail to criticize the Democrats who also voted callously. A congressman from our state did exactly that to Governor Baker, attacking him, but giving a complete pass to his House colleagues.

The Syrian refugees deserve better than that.

Give credit to Governor Baker for his cautious but welcoming REVISED statement, and give credit also to Governors Brown of California and Jay Inslee of Washington, who stated clearly the moral honor of welcome while acknowledging the caution that underlies vetting of the welcomed.

Many Syrian refugees are already here, enriching our nation with their courage. Here’s a link to a great story about them :

For my part, I stand with welcome. All refugees, from every place, should find in America embrace and encouragement. Our nation is enriched immeasurably by those who put life and death faith in our society and our laws; and, as Mitt Romney eloquently said a few months ago, every religion enhances our national character. I have read that more Mexican immigrants are now leaving us than coming. To me, this is an indictment. We should all be ashamed to hear that people find another nation more promising than ours to live in.

I do not know what sort of envision the rejecters of refugees envision, nor the haters of immigrants. Certainly whatever they have in mind is not the America that has existed for 400 years, been built by sweat and blood (and tears) ever since, the nation made mighty by the participation of all who dare to join us (and by those who were brought to us in chains to take orders at the tongue of a whip).

Whatever nation these rejecters have in mind, it is not one that any of the rest of us should cotton to. The principles upon which we built our laws and to which we have applied our courage and our moral compass will have come into being in vain, if we allow those who would tear it down, or stain it with injustice, or abuse it with selfishness, or distort its heart with bigotry, to have their way.

It is said that these societal ills arise from fear. Perhaps they do.

What is there to be afraid of ? Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it correctly in 1933 : “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

To live for fear’s sake is not to live at all. I reject fear, just as President Hollande of France has nobly, powerfully done. “Let 30,000 refugees come,” he avowed, recommitting his wounded nation to the battle that make  nations great.

As for fear and its prisoners, I say to you my readers now : neither I nor you will let it have its way. We will not be ground down by worry, or intimidated by hysteria, or bent to ill will, or bothered by bad moral breath. We will not allow it. We are better than that, and our nation will prevail because of it.

—– Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



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