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More Voices Speaking Out for American Values and Against Anti-Refugee Fearmongering

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A number of observers are condemning the anti-refugee fearmongering on display last week in Congress and the campaign trail and are instead calling on elected leaders and the country as a whole to live up to American values and ideals. Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Despite the ugly, bipartisan vote in Congress last week, leaders from a variety of disciplines are speaking up and calling on the country and Congress to remember our past and honor our values.  We must keep our doors open to refugees.  We can have freedom and security at the same time, but only if we engage in smart policymaking over fear-mongering, untethered from facts.”  Among the key voices:

New York Times Editorial, “The Price of Fear”“As for the members of the House, Democratic and Republican, who voted to effectively shut down the Syrian and Iraqi refugee program, and the governors who would somehow block Syrians from their borders — Americans should hope it’s just fearful ignorance that clouds their vision, and that in time it clears. History will always be kinder to those who are resolute and brave. Like the Japanese-American soldiers of World War II, whose response to injustice was to fight overseas, defending democracy with their lives. Or the leaders today who have been calm in the crisis, willing to see and to say what the mob does not. People like the governor of Washington State, Jay Inslee, who has urged open doors for Syrian refugees, citing the Japanese-American internment as a disastrous precedent. ‘We regret that,’ he said. ‘We regret that we succumbed to fear.’ Terrorist violence is terrifying, and it is natural to want to restore a shattered sense of safety. But the best way to do that has always been to draw upon our greatest ideals.”

The Economist editorial: “At some point next year, when Republicans and Democrats have each chosen a presidential candidate, it is possible that voters will witness a serious debate about national security—and notably how to fight the fanatics of Islamic State (IS). For now alas, the Paris attacks have instead dragged an already ugly contest further down the path of partisan name-calling, empty bluster and fear-mongering … Conscious that hauling up the drawbridge to Muslim refugees might not be the best way of rallying Muslim allies, some Republicans tout plans for winning hearts and minds … But unless would-be presidents stop pandering to fear back home, they will struggle to win a global battle of ideas.”

George Packer of the New Yorker reflecting on the anti-refugee politics on display in Congress: “A lot of people in this country are disgracing themselves this week. They include politicians of both parties—though many more Republicans than Democrats—and all regions. Their motives vary: deep-seated bigotry, unreasoning fear, spinelessness, opportunism, or some unholy mix of them all … It’s absurd, and infantilizing, to demand that our officials promise to keep us absolutely safe. We don’t live that way, nor should we. Instead, we have to find the balance between safety and a decent life in a free society during an age of terror. Like every compromise, it will leave us unsatisfied. But the alternative is unfreedom and injustice. On Thursday night, as the House was passing its anti-refugee bill, I moderated a panel at New York University with four women who were visiting from Syria. I wish Ted Cruz, Trey Gowdy, and other panic-stricken demagogues had been in the audience … Caught between the Assad regime, the Islamic State, and an indifferent world, these women still feel and think, they scoff at the beliefs of the extremists, rage at the cruelty of Assad, cry while they stitch up children, mourn the dead, tease and comfort one another. They’ve found depths of kindness and resilience, hatred and love, that they didn’t know before the war. The Syrian horror hasn’t killed their humanity—if anything, it’s intensified. I went home, in the rain, with a sense of wonder and shame.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami“The problem is not the Syrian refugees … This is falling into the trap of what the terrorists wanted us to become.  We shouldn’t allow them to change who we are as a people.”

Rev. Russell Moore, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention“Evangelicals should be the ones calling the rest of the world to remember human dignity and the image of God, especially for those fleeing murderous Islamic radical jihadis.”

Ruth Marcus, Washington Post columnist“The political aftermath of the Paris attacks is tracing a trajectory as familiar as it is disappointing. The fundamental question — how to defeat the Islamic State — is so resistant to any simple fix that the debate shifts to subsidiary but more easily digestible topics … Donald Trump has said it may be necessary to close mosques and create a national database of Muslims. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush called for sorting refugees by religion. Chris Christie would exclude even 5-year-old orphans. Ben Carson referred to ‘rabid dogs’ and tried to raise money off the issue. What’s the bigger risk: that terrorists posing as refugees will slip through in a year or two, or that young Muslims here will listen to this bigotry and become radicalized? The answer seems obvious.”