Absolutism is an American love. It always has been – even when we compromise, we compromise into an absolute. The ‘Great Compromise’ in the Constitution? Still absolutely allowed slavery, encouraged it, even. We have never been a people that liked seeing more than one side of a story. Maybe it is human, but Americans take it to an extreme.
So when the Syrian refugee crisis (and it is a crisis) began hitting the news cycle, of course the social sphere split into ‘let them all in’ and ‘keep them all out’ camps. But quietly.
Then came Paris. And it became a verbal war of ‘refugees hide terrorists’ and ‘they are just like Anne Frank’. Of course neither is true.
Neither is false either.
The simple reality here is that while a large number of refugees are exactly what they appear to be – people fleeing a brutal civil war for somewhere safe, even if it means leaving no only home, but the very climate they are familiar with. And, as Paris showed, some are indeed terrorists as well. But not all.
Families seeking a better life.
Men of questionable age and background looking for handouts and becoming violent when they are not forthcoming.
Families seeking handouts and leaving a nice life to get free money.
Christians fleeing those who would kill them because of their faith.
Muslims fleeing those who would kill them because their sect backed the wrong guy 1300 years ago.
The refugees are any combination of the above. Or more than one in the same individual. Yes, some are terrorists, but there is no foolproof way to tell – and the person fleeing the war today may be forced into a ghetto in a suburb, and fall in with terrorist friends tomorrow. We cannot know.
But that is not to mean we cannot try. Screening as best we can is not only in our best interests, but in the best interests of the refugees. Knowing that they can be resettled into a prosperous nation that won’t force them into a ghetto, and that they can point to our history, having passed through a modern Ellis Island. Joining the millions who came before, making America stronger, as an alloy is stronger than elemental metal.
Yes, some may be here in bad faith, and yes, there may (likely will) be incidents and attacks on our way of life. But we can weather that – we will weather that. We just need to accept that we have to be better than the Islamists who would being us down, and not be cowed by their ignorance.
Open the doors, but screen the entrants. Trust but verify. And stop being so damned afraid to either see that there is more than one side to this story.