Full marks to Governor Shumlin for refusing to succumb to the hysteria gripping so many of his fellows, and keeping the light on for Syrian refugees in Vermont.
“The refugees from Syria are no different than the refugees from anywhere else in the world,” Shumlin told reporters. “I would encourage us to do what Vermont has always done … It’s the spirit of all Vermonters to ensure that when you have folks who are drowning, who are dying in pursuit of freedom, that Vermont does its part.”
At last count, 16 governors had said they would refuse to accept refugees from Syria. Including, shamefully, New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan.
Their stance is super-stupid in at least three important ways:
— There is little evidence of Syrian refugee involvement in the Paris attacks. One of the terrorists might have taken the refugee route, but that hasn’t been established. The others, as far as we know, were Muslim residents — in most cases, citizens — of western European countries. Almost all of them are not originally from Syria.
— The US has an extremely thorough vetting process for Syrian refugees. It takes as long as two years for applicants to be cleared. It’s nothing like the situation in Europe, where thousands of refugees are washing up on southern shores, necessitating a rapid response.
— States don’t actually have the authority to refuse refugees once they’ve been admitted to the US.
Put it all together, these 16-plus governors are simply engaged in some baseless fear-mongering.
That said, I have a modest proposal.
Governor Shumlin told reporters that “seven or eight” Syrian refugees are in the process of settling in Vermont, and that he would “potentially welcome more Syrians.”
I say, let’s open the door to about 4,992 more, and resettle them in three of our economically troubled cities. Say two thousand each in St. Johnsbury and Rutland, and another thousand in Bennington.
Immigrants, despite the rhetoric of hateful scumbuckets like Donald J. Trump, are a strong net positive for the economy. They are generally hardworking, they are anxious to build a new life, they are incredibly appreciative of stuff we take for granted — security and opportunity, for instance.
A substantial influx of Syrians would be an incredible shot in the arm for our depressed areas in the northeast and southwest. Just imagine, rundown houses rebuilt and restored by grateful Syrians, and formerly empty storefronts bustling with markets and ethnic restaurants.
They wouldn’t arrive all at once, like October tourists at Bragg Farm; they’d be spaced out over time as they are cleared for entry, and we’d be able to plan for their orderly settlement.
I tell ya, it’d be great.
Never happen, of course. Vermont simply isn’t that tolerant. But talk about being a beacon to the world, about displacing fear with hope, about putting our values into practice.
A guy can dream, can’t he?