As the Republican Party hurls itself into the abyss of bigotry and fear in response to the Paris Attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stood up for decency and broken ranks with her party by publicly supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees in America. In a statement to business leaders gathered for the SEUS Japan 38 conference in Birmingham, Alabama, she called on Americans to be “open and welcoming” to refugees fleeing violence, while acknowledging that proper precautions must be taken to ensure our nation remains safe.
“I fundamentally understand that you in a position of authority, like you governor and others, in addition to having compassion for others you have to be safety conscious for your people. What the United States has done is to be open to people who are fleeing tyranny, who are fleeing danger, but we have done it in a very careful way that has worked for us.”
It appears to be a veiled shot at Governor Robert Bentley, who has declared that he will refuse to resettle Syrian refugees in Alabama. He joins some thirty other governors who took part in a conference call with President Obama last night, who was forced to remind them that in fact, they do not have the authority to defy the federal government on this issue.
Rice pointed to the successful resettlement of 67,000 refugees that were resettled while she was in office; indeed, since 9/11, “over 750,000 refugees have been admitted to America and of those, only two Iraqis have been arrested on terrorist charges – they had not planned an attack in America, but aided al-Qaeda [In Afghanistan]” notes the Economist.
Rice also pointed to the benefits of the way the resettlement process is handled in America; instead of maintaining large refugee camps “instead have sported a system that relocates refuges into communities across the nation who have in turned worked with non-profits and churches to help refugees settle.” It’s a more inclusive and secure way of handling the issue, one that we should expand to take in as many refugees as we can.
It’s very refreshing to see a respected Republican showing compassion and rationality, instead of allowing themselves to be consumed by xenophobia and fear like it seems all the rest have.
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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.