Staff Editorial: Don’t Let Fear Dictate Refugee Policy

Cub Staff and Harrison Otto

In the shadow of the recent Paris attacks, the debate over the acceptance of Syrian refugees has overtaken media attention. For the past few months, the civil war in Syria has caused many to flee to Europe, and now many are beginning to seek asylum in the United States as well.  Due to the terrorist acts of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other similar groups, people around the world are beginning to question whether welcoming Syrians and others fleeing from war in the Middle East is a good idea. Many states in the U.S. have already closed their doors the refugees, and there is a bill currently going through Congress aimed at making it extremely difficult for these people to immigrate to the country. Unfortunately, these acts and measures are simply a reaction of fear, for it would be a mistake to turn away these refugees in their time of need.

Many Americans think that refusing to accept Syrian refugees will make it harder for jihadists and terrorists to make it into the country. This, however, is not entirely true. Whether or not the U.S. decides to accept refugees, the extremists who really do wish to hurt us will find a way in. A majority of these refugees are people fleeing from these militants that the western world so opposes. A popular saying has been going around lately: “If you had a bowl of M&M’s, and you knew ten of them were poisoned, would you eat the M&M’s?” Of course no one would eat the M&M’s, but still millions of people travel by air each day knowing that a terrorist could be on their plane. Others go to movie theaters or museums and knowing there a terrorist could be among them.

Even if the United States closes its door to the Syrians, there is still an equal possibility that terrorists could carry out attacks in the country. What people should be worrying about is not the jihads coming from places in the Middle East, but rather the home-grown extremists who decide to commit acts of terror. Americans should be worrying about people like Adam Lanza, who massacred elementary school students at Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, or Dylann Roof, who attacked an African church in Charleston, South Carolina, this past summer.

Furthermore, if people really want to stress about ISIS, they should stress about the threat their propaganda poses to young people. It is becoming all too common that college students and other young adults are reading ISIS and extremist propaganda on the internet, traveling to the Middle East to become radicalized, and then returning to their home country with an explosive belt around their waist.

More importantly, though, however humiliating it might be, it is important to recognize that the growing threat of terror is can largely be attributed to the actions of the U.S. and other western nations. Over the past 30 years, the United States has done their fair share of damage in the Middle East. The U.S. military have repeatedly bombed numerous villages and cities in the region, and most of these strikes end up killing more civilians than intended targets. Not only that, but the U.S also has knowingly destroyed these people’s economy and has installed and funded puppet dictators who end up killing even more civilians. It is shocking when Americans claim that these jihads hate the United States solely because of the many “freedoms” its people enjoy, when in reality they hate this country because of the unnecessary pain and suffering we have caused them and their people. In no way whatsoever are these terror attacks committed by ISIS and others justified, but one must wonder why everyone is so hostile to the refugees, when this country’s military bombed their city in the first place.

Concerns about allowing a mass influx of Syrian refugees into the United States are real. It may make it easier possible extremists into the country, and could also give these potential terrorists easier access to groups already within the U.S. Others fear a new wave of immigrants will take jobs or will add to the growing welfare problem already present in America. Another major concern is Syrian refugees’ needs are taking precedence over so many homeless veterans out there. Many of these veterans risked their lives to serve this country, and still they are getting no help once they return from duty. In fact, homeless veterans and national security are among the many internal problems that the government needs to address.

Despite the many outcries against the refugees, one cannot deny that America has always been a beacon of freedom and hope throughout the world. Ever since the early 19th Century, people from all corners of the globe have journeyed to the United States in search for a better life. Almost every single person reading this article probably has ancestors who came to this country for the same reason: opportunity. Without immigrants, America would not be the bustling metropolis it is today. Yet, every time a new wave comes in, people are extremely nasty towards newcomers who just want a safe place to call home. This hypocrisy, which has existed since the first Irish immigrants fled to America from famine in the 1800’s, is the problem that clouds everyone’s judgement, not the Syrian refugees. Immigrants have always been and still are an essential part to the story of this country; why should they be turned away when they are running from the same terrorists that everybody supposedly hates?

Overall, the issue of the Middle East and the Syrian Civil War is a tricky subject, but barring these refugees from entering the country will not the make the United States any safer than it is right now. The truth is that the people who wish to restrict immigration of Syrians are simply reacting in fear much like the American people following the 9/11 attacks. Instead of thinking logically about the situation, they let fear and the media dictate their opinions on matters they will never quite understand. The last time the country responded in fear, the government decided to invade Iraq, a mistake that a majority of the country now regrets. Before the American people decide to react because of the Paris attacks, everyone should start identifying the real issues that are responsible for the worldwide “war on terror.” As for the refugees, they flee from a life that most people here could not even imagine. What right do people have to send them back to a life of persecution and violence?