It takes real leadership to stand in the face of terror and unspeakable violence, to refuse to engage with the fear and hold firm to the values you held before. The horrific violence in Paris rightfully gave pause to many immigration advocates; but now that it is clear that the identifiable terrorists were residents and the “Syrian refugee passports” found on the bodies were in fact Turkish fakes, President Hollande of France has refused to listen to the tsunami of xenophobic bloodlust sweeping through the right-wings in both American and France and has declared that France will still be accepting 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years – an increase of 6,000 from the original proposal.
“Life should resume fully. What would France be without its museums, without its terraces, its concerts, its sports competitions? France should remain as it is. Our duty is to carry on our lives. Some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubts in their minds. Through terror, Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) wants to instill through their murders the poison of suspicion, of discrimination, of division…It is as much of our humanitarian duty to help the refugees as it is to ensure the protection of France. 30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment. We will continue to take the necessary precautions before accepting refugees on our soil. It’s what we’ve been doing and what we will continue to do. Our social cohesion is the strongest response and our national unity is its expression. We must remain steadfast against all forms of hate. No xenophobic, anti-Semite, or anti-Muslim acts will be tolerated.”
Hollande has taken a decisive stand against both the terror from abroad and the discriminatory fearmongering from the right, a pronouncement of reason and rationality in the face of chaos. The George W. Bush administration utterly failed to do this after 9/11, becoming so consumed by fear that he began sacrificing our liberties and values in the name of national security – warrantless surveillance, religious discrimination, censorship, and torture. On the other hand, President Hollande has accepted the facts and has proceeded in a calm and measured manner, in complete opposite to the American Republicans who have seized on an attack in another country as a “national security” excuse to step up their anti-Muslim rhetoric, which is naught but barely disguised racism. We applaud President Hollande for not playing into the hands of ISIS and forging a progressive response to such abominable acts of terror.
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.