Letter to the Editor: 'Safe' Act truly evil
This is not a letter to the people who have refused to share their country with Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
This is not a letter to the Donald Trumps of the world who would track Muslims through databases and ID cards—a fresh take on Adolf Hitler’s yellow star concept.
This is not a letter to the Jeb Bushes of the world who would only accept Christian refugees, in a move so oblivious to the core concepts of both Christianity and America that it wouldn’t be believable if a comic book villain suggested it.
This is not a letter to the self-aggrandizing “armed protesters” in Irving, Texas, terrorizing Muslims at the Islamic Center of Irving in an act of collective punishment.
No, this is a letter to everyone else, everyone who knows better and who has a responsibility to negate the overwhelming fear and ignorance that are saturating our media and government.
H.R. 4038, deceptively named the American Security Against Foreign Enemies or “SAFE” Act of 2015, passed overwhelmingly in the House on Nov. 19 with a vote of 289 to 137. This in spite of the proliferation of holes poked in the logic of the legislation.
These have been explored in depth in dozens of thoughtful articles and interviews I suggest seeking out, but in quick review: The refugee vetting process is already incredibly lengthy and thorough; only two percent of refugees are men of fighting age; none of the 700,000 refugees admitted since 9/11 have been convicted of domestic terrorism; refugees are less likely than the general American population to commit violent crime; we are turning our back on translators and advisers who risk their lives aiding the U.S. military; the refugee program is already a more difficult avenue to America for terrorists than our visa program is; Western intolerance for Muslims aids the Islamic State’s mission; and it is morally the wrong thing to do.
Still, that our representatives ignored this logic should not be a surprise.
Xenophobia is status quo in our nation. Ask Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Jewish, Catholic and Mexican immigrants—we’re not as welcoming of a melting pot as we like to imagine. You may have seen articles recalling America turning away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust in the 1940s. Well, an object in motion stays in motion.
Treating refugees as if they were venomous snakes is practically an American tradition by now. If we are to reject that history and create a more compassionate America, each one of us has a responsibility to act.
These battered Syrian and Iraqi families deserve a home to rest their heads, safe from the fear of imminent bombing and assault. I’ve seen dozens of compassionate posts welcoming refugees and denouncing the actions of the House. It’s great that Aunt Carol knows how you feel, but Aunt Carol doesn’t hold the keys to the door.
Right now, the Senate does.
Many Americans, particularly students, don’t understand how much weight their voices carry. The number of call-ins to congressional offices on each side of an issue is always tallied by staffers, and they don’t tally that just for fun.
Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma voted in favor of H.R. 4038, after having denounced it on the House floor, because he was pressured by his peers to vote in favor.
Do you think he would have surrendered his position if he had hundreds of passionate students standing behind him, holding his political future in their hands? It seems unlikely.
The Senate is on recess right now, and as they give thanks this week, your Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake are surely considering the implications of the upcoming vote. When they get back to the office, I guarantee they won’t pull up your Facebook.
What they will do is ask their staffer for a tally of how many people called to demand they reject H.R. 4038.
289 representatives will be getting coal on Christmas. Save your senators from the same fate.
You can find Sen. McCain and Sen. Flake’s phone numbers with a cursory Google search. You can tell the staffer who answers your call that H.R. 4038 is an unpatriotic and morally bankrupt bill that must be voted into oblivion. The staffer will ask you for your name and hometown and thank you for your call. You can be back to whatever you were doing in two minutes.
This isn’t a letter to the fearful, the hate-filled or the selfish. This isn’t a letter to Ben Carson or anyone else who refers to other human beings as a pack of “rabid dogs.”
This is a letter to you, whose heart is in the right place. You, who hold the power to change the fate of the refugees of Syria and Iraq.
Fight the status quo, call your senator and, for lack of a better phrase, make America great again.