Accepting refugees: a moral imperative

So I just took a driving trip through Canada. And of course I was exposed to a bunch of subversive ideas.

After all, we’re talking about a country that just handed a spectacular defeat to a Prime Minister who aggressively demagogued the refugee issue while his challenger, Justin Trudeau, campaigned on a promise to accept another 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year.

Wait, the voters picked the pro-refugee guy?

Yup, Canada’s a funny place. And while traveling through the True North Strong and Free, I read a brilliant essay in the right-of-center National Post. It was by political commentator Michael den Tandt, and it argued that welcoming refugees — even Muslims — ought to be a Conservative cause.

Herewith, some excerpts. I recommend reading the whole thing.

[Allowing entry to Syrian refugees] is in harmony with Canadian values and traditional Conservative values. It is in keeping with the will of the people, as expressed in the recent federal election that turned to a significant degree on issues of pluralism, inclusiveness and, yes, refugees.

Den Tandt then acknowledges that, in the wake of the Paris attacks, it’s only human nature to be concerned about terrorism. But that doesn’t mean we should let our fears hold sway.

Leadership, though, requires that people rise beyond first instincts and quick reactions, to apply reason and compassion, toughness and wisdom.

… the truth is that conflating Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists with Syrian refugees does not bear scrutiny. It is belied by the fact that most of ISIL’s victims are Muslim; that the refugees Canada seeks to rescue are already in camps administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and have been for years; that the Paris terrorists held European Union passports, and thus could presumably have entered Canada simply by getting on a plane, had they wished to; and that the attacks in Canada last October were carried out by homegrown ISIL wannabes. …Moreover, the security services are carrying out checks on every potential refugee.

Is this an iron-clad guarantee of perfect security? No. The reality is there is no such thing.

… Indeed, living free requires the bearing of some basic level of risk — unless we plan to stop going to hockey games, restaurants and rock concerts — just as pluralism in a wealthy democracy requires a hand extended to the dispossessed in their hour of greatest need.

Nothing more needs to be said. Now, the question for noted dog-whistle soloist Bruce Lisman and the overly timid Phil Scott: Will you continue giving voice to our lowest impulses or begin to express our highest values?

3 thoughts on “Accepting refugees: a moral imperative

  1. chuck gregory

    The Republican Party has spent half a century gaining political power by cultivating anger, fear and resentment in the electorate. Both Scott and Lisman will be rejected by Vermont Republican voters if they do not comply with the strategy.

  2. Robert Maynard

    ” … it argued that welcoming refugees — even Muslims — ought to be a Conservative cause.” This is an argument that I have long agreed with. Declassified FBI files show that many of the home grown terror cells have been broken up because native Muslims reported jihadi activity. Why on earth do we want to drive a wedge between the Muslim community as a whole and the rest of America? The smart thing to do is to work on driving a wedge between the broader Muslim commmunity and the jihadis. The jihadis’ worst fear is that the general Muslims population will be “seduced” by the heretical idea of freedom and self-government. There is a piece translated from Arabic to English where one of Bin Laden’s ideological lieutenants argued that the American idea of Democracy was a bigger threat to Islam than all of the other threats combined. They fear this threat FAR more than they do our military. Why we do not reach out and embrace the Muslim world with a “pro-freedom” ideological campaign, I simply cannot figure out.

  3. chuck gregory

    Robert, don’t forget that the Republicans have used “wedging” as part of their Southern Strategy: get the electorate to focus on one of their pet hatreds and you will have successfully distracted them from the disservices that will be rendered unto them as they elect the Republican candidate to office. Fifty years of this has certainly affected the Vermont GOP by osmosis at the very least, as Scott’s stance shows.


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