The American far-right wing’s response to the Paris attacks and the resettlement of Syrian refugees has been absolutely disgusting, if not unexpected. The almost universal reaction has been an outpouring of xenophobic racism and reckless aggression as Republican governors and presidential candidates declare that Syrian refugees are unwelcome in our nation with one breath and calling for a ground invasion of Syria with the next. The fascist hate-rag known as Breibart published a headline this morning asking “How many Westerners will leftists allow to die in order to achieve their utopian vision of a multicultural world without borders?” Racist provocateur Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has filed a bill to ban Syrian refugees from entering the United States; Sen. Lindsey Graham has filed one for unrestricted war against the Islamic State.
This outpouring of hatred and bellicose posturing is utterly despicable coming from a party that values “religious liberty” and “Christian values” so highly, and religious organizations across America are taking them to task for their outrageous hypocrisy.
The Church World Service, an evangelical refugee nonprofit, slammed right-wingers for their hypocrisy:
Our values call us to answer the desperate pleas of mothers, fathers and children searching for safety and assistance in their darkest hour. Over 4 million Syrians are now refugees, seeking safety in countries across the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Another 6.5+ million are displaced within Syria, forced from their homes due to violence and persecution. Within the United States, the welcome of Syrian refugees is being challenged. This type of fear-mongering has no place in our society. People of all faiths must stand in solidarity with refugee and migrant communities.
Jenny Yang of the World Relief evangelical refugee resettlement organization questioned the GOP’s attention to the demands their own voting base:
“[this push to curb immigration] does not reflect what we’ve been hearing from our constituencies, which are evangelical churches across the country. Most of the people have been saying we want to continue to work with refugees, that what happened in Paris … doesn’t reflect who refugees are.”
The United States Conference Of Bishops has issued a scathing statement rebuking right-wing politicians for their heartlessness:
I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.
Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive. As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis and bring nations together to protect those in danger and bring an end to the conflicts in the Middle East.
Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals had this to say:
Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS. We are horrified and heartbroken by the terrorist atrocities in Paris, but must not forget that there are thousands more victims of these same terrorists who are fleeing Syria with their families and desperately need someplace to go.”
Jonathan Greenblatt of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League also chimed in:
“This country must not give into fear or bias by turning its back on our nation’s fundamental commitment to refugee protection and human rights.”
While it’s been made very clear over the past six months that the modern, heavily radicalized Republican Party has little concern or regard for their own constituents, this rebuke from religious organizations might actually have some effect – either conservatives will listen to their own voter base, or put their reprehensible hypocrisy on display for the whole nation to see.
The refugees fleeing Syria would be otherwise caught between the gun barrels of five different warring factions. They flee because they reject the violence and extremism that ISIS represents, and it is our moral duty to open our hearts and our homes to those in need. While security concerns do need to be addressed, France’s decision to increase its refugee quota to 30,000 show be a cue for us to do the same. Only by standing together, in unity, can we defeat the fear that comes with such unspeakable violence.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.