After a wave of anti-refugee sentiment from governors around the country, Congress today passed a veto-proof bill that would effectively cut off the ability of the United States to help refugees of the Syrian civil war.
In times of particular struggle, uncertainty, and fear we look to our leaders. We need them to display the wisdom and bravery that are required in trying times, when most people have difficulty meeting that need.
Today our leaders have done the opposite. Rather than showing us wisdom and bravery, they have succumbed to fear, or worse, embraced it as a tool for political gain. They have rejected our self-appointed place as a world power and left other countries already doing more than us to deal with the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today.
Congress is not acting as a body of leaders. They are embracing the irrational fear that so many Americans feel in response to the terrorism ISIS engages in. How is it that our bravery can so easily falter in the face of an attack on France, especially when France holds strong in their support for the victims of ISIS?
We are failing to learn the lessons of history, preferring to relive our most shameful failures of World War II. We must not turn away refugees as we did Jews. We must not treat Muslims, Middle Easterners, or even Syrians as suspect. If we refuse to accept refugees we not only fail to live up to our values, we create enemies where we could have allies.
Rejecting the Syrian refugees may feel like keeping the conflict away. It may feel safer. It is not. It strengthens the position of ISIS and it helps them to harm more people. We cannot let ourselves do that again.