Republicans and conservative media have had a field day with fear-mongering about terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris. A number of Republican governors have announced that they would try to block the federal government’s plan to give asylum to 10,000 Syrian immigrants in the United States over the next year, and right-wing media sources have promoted rumors that many of the immigrants are possibly terrorists.
Some politicians like Ted Cruz have suggested that we take in Syrian immigrants, but only those who are Christians, because apparently there is no history of Christians ever committing acts of terrorism in the United States.
President Obama has not taken kindly to the conservative hypocrisy on Syrian immigrants, and fired back during his press conference yesterday.
“When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians, but not the Muslims,” Obama said, “when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful.”
“That’s not American,” he continued. “That’s not who we are. we don’t have religious tests to our compassion.” (Source)
These remarks were a thinly-veiled shot at Ted Cruz. His father fled Cuba during the early years of Castro’s rule and both father and son have embraced anti-immigrant viewpoints, as well as extremist Christian beliefs that mirror some of the teachings of radical Islam.
The First Amendment clearly states that our government cannot favor one religion over another, but that is what Ted Cruz and other Republicans are proposing when it comes to our treatment of Syrian refugees.
In addition to being incredibly hypocritical, it also furthers the message that radical Islam is promoting that the West is at war with their religion. What better way for them to prove to potential terror recruits that Americans are just as hateful, because we would only take in Christians while leaving Muslims to fend for themselves? Imagine the opportunities for a child to grow up and flourish in America versus the child who will grow up in a refugee camp or in war-torn Syria?
Our screening process is very thorough, and yes, it isn’t always perfect. However, screening people solely on the basis of their religious beliefs is a disgrace to our country’s history of religious freedom. It is as hypocritical as the Puritans who left England for the freedom to practice their version of Protestantism, only to exile or kill those who didn’t see eye to eye with their beliefs once they established a government in Massachusetts.
As a nation of immigrants, we should embrace Syrian refugees, not shun and hate them. We should judge applicants for asylum not on their religious affiliation, but on their needs and what they can contribute to this country. For us to give in to conservative hatred and bigotry is exactly what ISIS/Daesh is counting on to recruit future foot soldiers, and Republicans like Ted Cruz are playing right into their hands.
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