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My Position On the Syrian Refugees

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Those words, of course, are by Emma Lazarus. Her poem, "The New Colossus," appears in bronze on the base of the Statue of Liberty. A statue given to the United States by France, our nation's oldest friend and ally... a bit of history that seems especially important just now, in light of the recent horrors in Paris.

For me, Lady Liberty and the words on her base represent the best of what this nation of immigrants is all about. One has to wonder if all the governors (including our own governor here in New Mexico, I am ashamed to say) and congressmen voting to keep out the Syrian refugees have ever visited the Statue, or read the words on her base. If so, they surely failed to understand them.

Of course, most everyone knows the part about 'your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,' but let me draw your attention to some other lines of the poem:
-- a mighty woman with a torch... her name Mother of Exiles,
-- from her beacon hand, Glows world-wide welcome,
-- send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me.

Emma Lazarus had it right. Donald Trump and thirty-one governors have it wrong, wrong, wrong.

The Syrian refugees are as much victims of ISIS as the dead in France.

Let them in. Santa Fe, at least, will welcome them.



Jonathan Schaper
Nov. 21st, 2015 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
The simplistic approach is the one that involves judging all Muslims as bad and seeking to solve all the world's problems by building walls. That is both morally and intellectually simplistic. And I do believe the word you were groping for was "stake".
Nov. 21st, 2015 01:00 am (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
Oh is condescension on the menu? My favorite.

You are quite right that your straw man argument would be a simplistic approach. I find that it is generally the simplistic mind that has to resort to a straw man instead of engaging a person's actual argument. No one "judge[s] all Muslims as bad" or "seek[s] to solve all the world's problems by building walls." But it's far more comforting for you to attack that horrible, imaginary argument rather than engage in the actual argument being made, so I understand why you did so.

And 'grope' is the wrong word for mocking a typo. It's really only applicable in person, where you can see the person searching - and failing - to find the word they're looking for. I could see it maybe being stretched to cover an incorrectly used word, where the writer misunderstood the definition of the word he used. But it definitely isn't appropriate for a typo.

Finally, I find condescension intellectually lazy and impolite and try to avoid it, so thank you for granting me the opportunity and justification for joining you here.
Nov. 21st, 2015 01:45 am (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
No one seeks to solve the world's problems by building walls?

Have you somehow missed hearing Donald Trump? He talks about his Great Wall of Texas every other sentence. So far he hasn't proposed one for Canada, but now that they are admitting 30,000 Syrians I suppose that's coming.
Nov. 21st, 2015 02:16 am (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
George, I think you missed the key word "all". No one seeks to solve *all* the world's problems by building walls. Both my comment and the comment I replied to said 'all', so I hope this was just an oversight on your part and you weren't being intellectually dishonest.

The reason that word is key is because we have to discuss these enormous, complicated problems rationally. The comment I replied to was knocking down a straw man argument.

I repeat my disappointment. You knock Tolkein for creating caricatured villains in his stories... yet you're doing this *in the real world*. *Most* people who want restrictions on refugees aren't bigots who hates icky Muslims. They're concerned citizens who don't want to put American lives at risk without careful deliberation.

The refugees who would come aren't in immediate mortal danger. They're not taking a flight from Aleppo to Newark. They're safe, if in horrible conditions, in refugee camps. So lives are not at *stake* (got it right this time) through deliberation.

And deliberation and care is what is needed. One of the Paris attackers snuck in among the wave of refugees. The "background checks" we conduct for potential refugees are relying on data from a war-torn country that's half a failed state. And despite what I'm sure are the best of intentions, the myriad institutional, bureaucratic failures at OPM, the VA, the Secret Service, etc., don't exactly give the people confidence that our administrative bureaucracies are up to this enormous challenge.

So I repeat the criticism at the beginning of my post. This is a complicated issue with lives at stake in either direction, and good people with the same moral code can disagree with each other on the best way forward. And your moral preening and escape into a fantasy world of good guys (you) and bad guys (those evil, evil Republicans) is beneath a man as intelligent as you.

I am an enormous fan and I hope you take this as an honest effort at conveying a respectful* dissent of your opinion.

*Yes maybe 'moral preening' is a bit over the line, but given the vitriol I've received here so far, it feels pretty tame.
Nov. 21st, 2015 05:04 am (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
>> *Most* people who want restrictions on refugees aren't bigots who hates icky Muslims. They're concerned citizens who don't want to put American lives at risk without careful deliberation.

i.e. they're polite bigots?

(The implied statement here is that American lives are way more valuable than some dirty refugees - we can carefully deliberate about their ultimate fate even as they die, because those deaths are a reasonable price to pay to prevent a perceived threat to us, no matter how remote.)

John Anthony Spinella
Nov. 23rd, 2015 01:17 am (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
None of the Paris attackers snuck in as refugees. None of the attackers were refugees. None of them were REFUGEES! That was a statement made in the first hours of the attacks, and after spending time doing investigations, it was found ALL the ATTACKERS were French and Belgian citizens whose families immigrated to Europe a couple generations ago. They were Europeans that practiced the Islamic faith and decided to take part in the attacks.
So we don't have to worry about refugees coming to kill us, we have fellow Americans that are willing to do that, like Christian fundamentalists and racists.
Nov. 22nd, 2015 04:19 am (UTC)
A Canadian Wall?
We've heard it discussed already by other Republican candidates on occasion, and that was before Trudeau the Younger and his team won our federal election.
Nov. 21st, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Surprised...
"...No one judges all Muslims as bad."

That's exactly what people are doing. Check out any of social media accounts of people who identify themselves as "real" Republicans. Many/most want Islam outlawed -- literally outlawed, all of it. Trump wants all Muslims to carry ID and register, even citizens. Ted Cruz wants immigrants to undergo a religious test, where Muslim = fail. Jeb Bush also wants to only allow Christian immigrants into the USA.

And I disagree that this is a "complicated" issue. That "one of the Paris attackers snuck in among the wave of refugees," as you claim, is not a reason to hold millions of them in camps, living like dogs, sleeping in mud.

More than one of the shooters who have recently gone into American schools to shoot up dozens of little children -- more than one of them had "snuck in" and lived among the general American population. The same population you live in. Should we throw you and your family in a camp, just to be on the safe side? Force you to live in a tent, in mud and dirt surrounded by a chain-link fence? Is it a "complicated issue" that merits further discussion?

It's remarkable what people consider doing to others who are less fortunate.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 09:37 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Surprised...
I totally agree with the last statement in your post- it's just amazing to me how much that poster keeps dehumanizing the refugees in their every post. Real human beings who are suffering terribly in ways I am sure the poster cannot even -begin- to imagine.
I agree that we need to let the refugees in- this is a humanitarian issue where we can make a real difference, not some complex theory we can endlessly debate while people continue to die.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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