When it comes to the refugee crisis, U.S. presidential candidates are all over the map. Some, including Martin O’Malley, have called for a generous American response in which we accept at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of next year. Others have spoken of taking in refugees, but in smaller numbers, while a third category of candidates have said American shores should be closed, no matter the severity of the crisis.
But just in recent days, a fourth category has emerged: presidential candidates who seem to think the refugees themselves are bad, dangerous people, worthy of scorn. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whose presidential campaign has become a crusade for “religious liberty” and the rights of the unborn, told social conservatives this weekend that they should be skeptical of allowing more Syrian refugees into the United States.“Are they really escaping tyranny, are they escaping poverty, or are they really just coming because we’ve got cable TV?” Huckabee asked, in an audience question-and-answer session at the conservative Eagle Forum conference in St. Louis. “I don’t mean to be trite.”
No, of course not. Heaven forbid.
In a podcast, the Republican presidential hopeful added that European nations are forgetting the “lessons of 9/11” by allowing “alleged-Syrian refugees” into their countries.
The lesson of 9/11 is that refugees are awful people who should be sent back to hellish conditions in their war-torn country?
The New York Times reports today that daily life for those who remain in Syria is “a nightmare.”
Every morning, at the dawn call to prayer, women and children move silently from the Damascus suburb of Douma to the surrounding farm fields, seeking safety from the day’s bombardments by the Syrian government.The walk is part of a surreal routine described by the fraction of Douma’s residents who remain: shopping on half-demolished streets, scavenging wild greens, carrying out mass burials. But not even the fields are safe; recently, medics said, bombs killed two families there — 10 people, including seven children. […] More than 550 people, mostly civilians, have died in the past month in Douma and nearby suburbs, 123 of them children, Red Crescent medics say.
Mike Huckabee thinks those fleeing the violence – in many cases, families literally running for their lives – may just want cable television. I think Mike Huckabee’s callous indifference to human suffering is evidence of a candidate who has no idea what he’s talking about, and who’s record of ugly, heartless rhetoric has often bordered on despicable.
If the GOP candidate wants to repair his moral compass, he might start by reading yesterday’s E.J. Dionne column.
[W]hy should we take in refugees? Simply because it is the right thing to do, because it’s in keeping with who we say we are, and because we remain collectively a wealthy nation and can afford it. Pride in our moral claims is not limited to any economic class. In fact, the least advantaged are often the most generous.We should do it because we have always regretted leaving people in grave danger instead of taking them in. We should never forget our failure to give refuge to more European Jews before they were marched into Hitler’s death camps.We should do it because the United States wants to be in a position to say to our European friends and the Gulf States, who have been shamefully reluctant to act, that we are doing our part and they should do theirs. (And bless Germany for standing up on this.) We should do it because this a case where we have a practical way to help alleviate ungodly agony.