“That’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are.” President Obama speaking at the G20 Summit today on the issue of refusing Syrian refugees.
Several weeks ago, Democracy Tree wrote about Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Sen. Gary Peters, and Gov. Rick Snyder putting out the welcome mat encouraging Syrian refugees to consider calling the Motor City their new home. However, in the wake of the Paris attacks, Snyder has one-eightied his position on Syrian refugees in what commentator Jack Lessenberry termed “a decision that was politically easy”, noting that this is exactly what ISIS wants with this qualifying remark:
“Of course, it is doubtful if the leadership of that perverted organization is even aware of an obscure lame-duck governor somewhere in the American Midwest.”
Well, maybe ISIS doesn’t know about the “tough nerd”, but President Obama sure does. He spent the last day and a half at the G20 Antalya Economic Summit in Turkey, where topic number one was what to do about the metastasization of the terrorist threat, economics be damned. Prior to catching a flight to Manilla earlier today, the president held a news conference with journalists from around the world where he was peppered with various iterations of the same question — why aren’t we more militarily involved with “boots on the ground” in ISIS-held territory? With increasing annoyance, the president explained ad nauseam that the problem can not be solved by simply capturing real estate through methods of conventional warfare. The enemy is an ideology that is spreading through social media, feeding on a sense of disenfranchisement among a small group of Islamic millennials turned militant.
The recalcitrant media exchange spurred the president to get fired-up about the rise of xenophobic policies toward Syrians refugees fleeing terror. His finishing remarks included this strong rebuke:
“It is very important that we do not close our hearts to these victims… somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”
Saying “It’s popping-up in the U.S.”, Obama acknowledged his concern about hearing of leaders back home already engaging in that brand of rhetoric. He admonished those who are giving-in to craven politics, urging leaders “not to feed that dark impulse.”
Was he talking about Gov. Snyder? Likely yes, among others. Snyder’s reversal on the Syrian refugee issue made national media this morning just hours before the president spoke. Michigan leaders were among the few who had supported Syrian resettlement, so Snyder’s retrograde policy move was sure to have been brought to the president’s attention.
In his usual manner, Snyder carefully avoided loaded hate-speech in the announcement reversing Michigan’s policy on Syrian refugees, stating that his “first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.” The reality is, if nefarious types wish to enter this country, doing so through regular channels is much easier than going through the extensive, time-consuming vetting process for refugees. And, Michigan mustn’t forget its own sobering history of home-grown terrorism.
Over 51 percent of registered Syrian refugees are children according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. How quickly some choose to forget that heart-breaking photo of the body of that small Syrian boy washed ashore.
As previously reported by Democracy Tree, there is a shameful irony to the situation. Prior to Syria’s internal conflict and battle with ISIS, that nation was host to many times more desperate expats than any single European nation is currently being asked to absorb. In 2010, Syria hosted over 1.3 million refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, and Iran. They were not held in squalid camps, but were integrated into communities, poor as the Syrians were. Children were enrolled in schools. Healthcare, food assistance, and vocational training were made available, additionally, micro-loans and grants were offered to help families start a new life. The cost was in the millions — with UNHCR support, $90.1 million was spent in Syria as of 2010.
These are good people who deserve compassion, not politics as usual. Shame on Gov. Snyder.