By Nancy Smith
Conservatives talk a lot about American exceptionalism. So do I. It’s what we’re all about. But if ever there was a time to show we mean what we say — that our values, our principles, our way of life — soar above the ways of freedom’s enemies, then it’s right now, right here, embedded in our acceptance of 10,000 Syrian refugees to America’s shores.
The world needs America to be America again.
Conservative writer and CNN correspondant C.E. Cupp, said it best in a New York Daily News column earlier this week: “As nearly half of U.S. governors vow to keep their borders closed to the victims of a brutal war we’ve done little to staunch, there’s an important case to be made that accepting Syrian refugees isn’t just the moral thing to do, but the best way to prevent the future spread of terrorism.”
We have no choice. America gives sanctuary to those fleeing persecution. This is what we do and who we are. We’re the good guys.
The sadistic Islamic State, or ISIS, is looking for proof the West stands against Arabs and Muslims. It’s not going to help us to give them that proof.
Doesn’t American exceptionalism demand that we lead where others have neither the will nor the courage?
So far, approximately 220,000 people have been killed in Syria, and half of the country’s population has been displaced.
Aren’t we morally obligated to defend our Western values of democracy, freedom and equality against Islamist ideologies that would threaten them? I maintain that this is how we must do it — stand up to ISIS’ tyranny and shelter the families they tried to savagely destroy.
Closing our borders is surrendering our exceptional American values to the enemy.
This is how we must do it: stand up to ISIS’ tyranny and shelter the families they tried to savagely destroy.
I’m not the first to point out my party’s hypocrisy on this issue, but it bears mentioning again: Hooray for us for calling for more military intervention to bury ISIS in Syria; but we also get a big resounding raspberry for refusing to deal with the consequences of our minimum involvement — the displacement of millions of Syrians.
Certainly I understand why so few trust the Obama administration now, considering the president still clings to a belief that his failed ISIS strategy is “working” and neither he nor his State Department recognized the rise of ISIS in the first place — and when they finally did — at the same time it was taking one city after another across Syria and Iraq — crowed that it had been “contained.”
And, yes, I understand that the fears terrorists could enter the United States through the refugee program sparked the House bill that moved quickly through the chamber and passed Thursday, 289-137.
It was obvious by the debate before the vote, reports that one of the Paris terrorists entered Europe by posing as a Syrian refugee fanned the flames.
But absorbing 10,000 — even 100,000 — refugees is not the unmanageable security risk to U.S. citizens Rick Scott and other governors have alleged. We now have a vigorous screening process. More than half a dozen security agencies are involved, for Heaven’s sake. On top of that, refugees are interviewed abroad by officers from the Department of Homeland Security before they’re approved for resettlement. No population entering the U.S. is more closely examined than refugees.
Do you mean to tell me America can’t handle that? If so, forget the free world — we couldn’t lead our way out of a mall parking lot.
Ryan C. Crocker, dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait, wrote this Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal: “The administration can hasten the process without weakening security by simply directing security agencies to devote more time and staff to the task. Congress should support this move, as it would quell concerns about terrorism.”
Here’s a chilling argument Cupp makes in favoring of accepting the refugees: “On a more practical level, the Syrian refugees are, in the eyes of ISIS, either collateral damage or potential recruits. Leaving them to roam country-less puts them in the precarious position of choosing between nothing and something. Do they run for their lives or join ISIS, the only group offering them food, shelter and some stability?”
Gratitude is a value common to fleeing refugees, folks. I remember the often-quoted adage among Vietnamese forced to flee after the U.S. pulled out of Saigon in 1975: “Eat the fruit, remember who planted the tree. Drink the water, remember the source.” I am convinced that one day the same will apply for the Syrians America takes in.
Our character is being tested.
We need our leaders in Congress, in governors’ offices, in the Oval Office to rise to the occasion, be real statesmen, understand the nature of strength and leadership and this enemy. And, please, no more political expediency or playing on fear, which does nothing but exacerbate it.
We need leaders who know who we are and how to keep us that way.
Nancy Smith is the editor of Sunshine State News. She started her career at the Daily Mirror and The Observer in London before spending 28 years at The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News as managing editor and associate editor. She was president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in the mid-1990s. Reach her by email here, or follow her on twitter at @NancyLBSmith.
I want whatever she’s smoking.
I don’t want refugees here-most of America doesn’t want refugees here—the editor says that’s what we do?
well maybe the editor should realize that even most of the states including florida say no!
suzy mendenhall says
As if we don’t have enough refugees already. Take a trip to WalMart in Palm Coast. Proof positive. I am sick of spending my income tax money on so called “refugees” when there are LEGAL Americans down on their luck. Think of the Vets who sacrificed so much and can’t get assistance…c’mon Americans THINK of our fellow CITIZENS.
David B says
I heard one of the Democratic candidates for Presidency say that if we allow the Syrian refugees in to our country, based on our population it would be like allowing 6 more people into a sold out event that only seats 30,000 people, and we wouldn’t even notice them. hmmmm.
Ken Dodge says
The author of the piece states “We now have a vigorous screening process.”
Contrast that with the following . . .
” . . . intelligence leaders and lawmakers worry that the flow of refugees will threaten U.S. national security, particularly given the rise of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expressed concern last month that IS terrorists will “infiltrate” crowds of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe and the United States. Approximately 4.1 million refugees are fleeing Syria to escape the civil war there.
Moreover, Rep. Brian Babin (R., Texas) told the Washington Free Beacon in a recent interview that Obama’s “open-door policy” toward refugees will allow IS to enter the U.S. He also labeled the refugee screening process “ineffective.””
Let them in!! We are not scared of no wussy terrorist. I will not degrade my values as an American citizen out of fear. Americans fear nothing, at least most of us dont. Crazy to see how many Americans Bow in fear to ISIS.
Does ANYBODY any longer trust what Government at ANY level SAYS?????????????????
And now for some historical perspective. . . a poll during the Nazi era asked US citizens if our government should allow refugee children to come into our country. . . over 60% said NO. . . what does that say about our lack of humanity?
Anonymous, u say most states have choose not to let refugees in, but when that happens it’s not THE PEOPLE in the state making that decision, it’s THE POLITICIANS !
Edith Campins says
This is not an easy question to answer.
I believe all countries have a right to secure their borders as they see fit. I believe strict procedures should be in place to determine who is allowed into a country and that no one has an obligation to accept persons of dubious character or those convicted of certain criminal activities. I qualify the last statement because in many countries political activists are classified as criminals. My father was considered a criminal and imprisoned for his activities against Castro’s government, as an example.
I believe we have an obligation, as human beings, to help those fleeing from death and torture. Not the same obligation when people are fleeing for economic reasons, such as most of the immigration from Latin America.
I very strongly believe that countries do not have to make special accommodations for cultural or religious differences of refugees. You come to our country, you must live as we do. Within the confines of your home you can live as you wish but don’t ask government or business to make special accommodations. If you are not willing to respect our ways don’t come here.
I am specially disturbed by some of the refugees who didn’t like being sent to Greenland and parts of Sweden because of their isolation, climate etc. I think an ultimatum is in order, this isn’t a holiday.
I cannot believe that there is no public/media questioning as to why Arab countries are not taking refugees. Certainly wealthy Arab countries such as Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia have the resources to accept refugees, particularly those who share cultural similarities.
I think I would deny entrance to single males as a precaution.
I think countries can and should set a limit as to the total number of refugees they accept, no question asked.
I questions why some countries are simply allowing through passage to the refugees. They too have to implement controls.
Having said all of this….
I believe we have a moral responsibility to help others. I don’t believe anyone who doesn’t want refugees in their home should be made to take them in.
When you allow people to mass exit a country you are implementing a safety valve for the rebels/insurgents, whatever. I think people should stay in their country and actively or passively resist. If Cubans had not left ,Cuba may be a different place today. Tyrants like to get rid of those who oppose them. It makes it easier to achieve their aims.
I DESPISE the American politicians that are spreading fear and distrust over this issue to gain votes. Their rhetoric hurts us all. They have offered no constructive solutions and their criticism of President Obama is pointless and offensive. Can you see a Carson. Obama or Rubio doing better with this crisis?
It also points out that refugee influxes can happen anywhere at any time. Those who accused President Obama of causing the wave of Latin immigrants were speaking out of their collective asses and showing themselves for the demagogues they have always been.
I feel sorry for the legitimate refugees, who having already suffered unimaginable hardships will now be victimized yet again by the hatred fostered by these asshole politicians.
This is not a problem with easy solutions and we should all be very wary of those like Trump, Carson, et al , who propose simplistic solutions. The idiots who would trample the Constitution and shut down Mosques and discriminate on the basis of religious differences are no better than then the terrorist
We already have millions of jobless and homeless CITIZENS. You know damn well the refugees will get prefential treatment.
Barry Hartmann says
Nancy Smith, sorry but we do have a choice. This would be the biggest mistake this administration has made since the Iran deal. 444 days till a new president!
Suddenly after the Paris incident they start arresting single young men in other countries that were headed to the US through the Southern border. How many of them have also sneaked in before the tightening of passport checks by other countries. We know that once they get into Mexico, crossing into the US is a no brainier. We need to build that wall not only for the Mexicans but for everyone else that is trying to sneak into the US.
For The People says
We Americans need to take care of our own here in our country first!!!!!!!
There are many ways we could resettle the refugees within America without big risks to security. As a temporary holding measure, we could place small groups of refugees in each of the scores of military bases sitting underutilized around the nation. We could devise a triage system — elderly refugees would not require as much “vetting” as families with teenagers. We could recruit churches and mosques to each take a family or two.
We somehow were able to hold hundreds of allegedly dangerous guys in Guantanomo for 10 years or longer — many of them never charged — yet terrorists never managed to blow up Guantanamo, Key West or Miami. Trump and his fellow Republicans are exaggerating the risks simply to score political points. The oldtimers among us recall when George Wallace based a presidential campaign on similar prejudice, but eventually most of us moved beyond the “segregation forever” madness. If someone is upset by multi-racial and multi-ethnic crowds at Wal-mart, the solution is simple. Stay at home in your cozy fortress and order online.
If there were no terrorist threats, maybe it would be a consideration to help SOME refugees, but the screening process is a joke and you know that ISIS will use the refugees to their advantage to get more terrorists here. This do nothing president is the reason why the world does not have America the way we used to be. He does not lead and does not know how and the rest of the world laughs at what this guy has made of this country. Start doing your job and make this country a leader again, Obama. Just wishful thinking because he has no clue.
Mondexian Mama says
The conservatives want to live in a world that no longer exists. They call themselves Christians,but in their hearts they long for the good old days when they could burn witches and ban books. They are laboring under the delusion that Christianity is the official religion of our great nation and have become intolerant to anyone who does not share their warped views. I suggest to these fine folks that they take a remedial reading course,then re read the first amendment.
It time for the United States of America to fix whats broken in our country first, protect our own boarders and educate our own before others, provide medical care for our own before others, spend all of that money the US provides to others countries right there in the US of A. The world is now different and its time for the US to change its open door policy and get down to business.
I choose to look beyond the “Conservatives should” part of this article and insert a cultural caution.
Besides the intelligence leader of our very own country saying we cannot really vet these refugies sufficiently, we need to look at the bigger picture of how multi-culturism is affecting the USA. Years ago assimilation, melting pot seemed to be the goal. Actually, my grandparents and the other people that had come over from Eastern Europe that I met in our neighborhood in Queens were so happy to be here, studied the language and proudly became USA citizens.
I’m concerned when I see the people from the south border waving the flags of the countries they came fri. Instead of ours — all the while demonstrating for their rights here.
I’m concerned about the amount of immigrants in recent years. Is it even possible to assimilate them or even do they want to assimilate.
I’m concerned about the values of the immigrants. When you have a multitude of refugees whose religion espouses sharia law, jihad, no rights for women, violence — people who I’ve seen in videos not the women and children Obama talks about but pictures of many young strong men — do they want to be Americans or do they want to hurt us, take advantage of our generosity? Whose flag are they going to be flying?
I am an American, not a Polish or Lithuanian American
But I’ll be having pierogi in Thanksgiving along with turkey
And Lasagna along with ham on Christmas
By the way, among the more than 2000 Syrians that we have taken in, I’ve read that only about 50 are Christians who have suffered the most awful barbarism
Obama could have helped the Syrians and others in the Middle East by taking the situation seriously and helping those fighting the Islamic terrorists in the 1st place.
Barry Hartmann says
Edith , sorry to tell you President Obama is well on his way to being the poorest example of a world leader ever!
While I do feel terrible for those people who truly are suffering, I also feel bad for many homeless here however; I do not bring them into my home to share with my family. Do any of you?
Myondexian, the first amendment was written without terrorist in mind. You are right in saying that we are living in a world that no longer exists, but you are totally wrong about people of the Christan faith. Intolerance is delayed by Muslims who kill anyone who is not Muslim. I don’t know of any Christian who believes that their religion is official to this nation. The delusion you describe is misplaced.
Sherry, it not lack of humanity. It’s protecting our great nation. I locked the door to my house not because I hate the people outside but because I love the people inside. If a stranger was asking to come into your home, would you let them in if there was any suspicion whatsoever that they may harm you or your family?
One extreme is as bad as the other. It would be a mistake to be cavalier either way. Refugees should not be shut out of the process but they need to be carefully vetted. There was evidence of fake Syrian passports and identification articles on/around some of the dead terrorists of the most recent attacks and that fact should not be ignored for the sake of political correctness. The Open Waiver Visa system needs to be plugged up and more concentration needs to be placed on how to carefully bet the incoming flood of Syrian refugees. Perhaps if the resulting safeguards could be made available to the public, some of the hysteria would calm down.
Samuel L. Bronkowitz says
Two points: first, let’s be honest. So we admit a terrorist or two; really, what’s the worst they could do? On what seems like a weekly basis, an american citizen walks into a school or some other public area and shoots a dozen or more children or whatever, and other than the families of the victims no one seems to really bat an eye. They might mumble something about american and protecting the 2nd amendment, but let’s be serious: if the american people were really serious about protecting it’s populance, it would start with the ones that have done the most damage, e.g. domestic terrorists and the like. Secondly, if americans really want to eliminate the threat of religious extremism on its soil, it should do it at its origin. The pilgrims, which were religious extremists so bad that they were literally expelled from england decided to come to north america and deposit their anchor babies left and right until they established a foothold, and then they decided to force their religious views on real americans under what was more or less sharia law. I say we drop their descendants at the border and kick them out, that way we can be sure there aren’t any 5th column infiltrators in our midst.
Edith Campins says
Dear For The People:
You think we should take care of Americans first. Do you mean like we took care of Native Americans, who were here first, by killing them, taking their lands and herding them into reservations? Of perhaps how we took care on Americans of Japanese descent, by putting them in detention camps without cause? Or perhaps as we have taken care of black Americans, by discriminating, persecuting them and denying basic human rights?
Why should Floridian’s care about terrorists? Yall got yer guns don’t cha? Even on school campus. I swear it’s always the ones with the guns that have the least bravery.
I would think liberals would be leading the charge to find money to pay for their whimsical dreams.
Instead they spend and try to shake down people who earn and save, all the while spending on top of what they already desire. The sad truth is when they spend there is little to no return on the investment. That’s why the poor are still poor, the hungry are still hungry, the uneducated turn to crime and why many don’t have or can’t afford healthcare. American Exceptionalism means doing the right thing for our country, not letting other countries exploit us. (Meaning all the other countries that are smart enough not to help and those that should)
Mondexian Mama- Look up the word “Caliphate” and tell me where Christians play a part in it. This is ISIS ultimate goal. They do not care if you are a Conservative or Liberal.
For all of you who do not want refugees, you have already forgotten the stories of your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents who fled oppression, war, and famine to come to America. Shame on you.
just me says
Do WE really need to let them in here to help? NO we could set up refugee centers in the Mideast for them with the cooperation of ” friendly” muslim Nations for them. that way they would be able to go home when the situations allow. I do believe we could let some in IF we had a good vetting proses I don’t think we do Ive heard most of it is handled through the UN. We SHOULD be doing more to help relocate those that are at the most risk from ISIL that would be the NON-muslims of that area. their is a fund to help just that look up the Nazarene fund if any wish to truly help.
Well, Lin … I guess in your world the more turkey and lasagna you eat the more “American” you are. And I guess the more Muslim refugees you keep out of your country, the more “Christian” you are.
Mondexian Mama says
I did look up Caliphate and I looked up Pope,and the two are interchangeable. With all the extreme religious fervor going on in our great country, in time we will once again be in the stranglehold of religious lunacy not seen since the dark ages.
Ted Cruz, the darling of the delusional,along with other conservatives is in favor of allowing in Syrian refugees as long as they’re Xians.So much for Xian charity. Hypocrites all.
Someone once made the observation that man would never be free until the last despot is strangled with the entrails of the last priest and after watching the Republican debates I think he may have a point.
WOW! How heartless are these comments. I wonder how many of the authors claim to be good Christians and believe that they should do unto others as they would have done unto them. We have become a country of fear mongering and unable to walk in His footsteps. Surely He weeps for us!
Just me says
Amazing the vitriol and hate some are showing to their fellow Americans’ for the suggestion of not letting in tens or hundreds of thousands of “refugees” from a place over run by islamists and we have NO way of verifying who we let in. They vilify them and what they think is their religious beliefs even though the vilified make NO mention of their desire to keep out possible threats to this Nation as part of their religion or its belief system.
Ya know Steve, the really huge difference between you and I is that I have the courage to live my ethics, principles and convictions. I don’t see humans as inherently evil, because I am a loving, caring person. I do not subscribe to the drum beat of fear and hate perpetuated by FOX and Rush, et al. I often travel to many other countries and have met amazingly wonderful people in every one of them. . . all races, all religions, all cultures. I endeavor to learn and evolve as a human being every single day.
I do not answer my door with fear and suspicion in my heart. I open my door to future friends and neighbors. I have great compassion and I actively assist the disenfranchised and those less fortunate than myself. I see and act far beyond my own small world and selfish needs.
First I am a child of the Universe, then I am a human being and child of the planet Earth, then I am a citizen of the USA, then I am a native of Florida, and last a resident of Flagler Beach. ALL precious, ALL worthy!
I feel fairly certain that sadly you do not resonate to many of these things. . . how terrible for you!
It’s not about Republicans or Christians, (even though liberals like to make everything about those two) it’s still about doing the right thing. I wonder why liberals, the ones who don’t believe America is Exceptional all of the sudden speak as if they believe it is? Can any liberal put a name on what they think America is, everything I hear from liberals is America is terrible. Now liberals want to bait main stream America into doing something they think is great, all on the grounds that Republican think “America has a good thing going” mentality.
Can’t even write the word Christ. Just like Obama can’t say radical Islam. 443 days till a new president.
When all is said and done our President Barack Obama will go down as one of the greatest presidents in American History.
It was revealed in a news article today (and not FOX news, by the way) that the ringleader of the Paris attacks had boasted beforehand about having slipped past authorities rather easily by taking advantage of the chaos resulting from the influx of Syrian refugee through European borders. All that rational Americans need to know (and deserve to know) is what precautionary steps are being taken to vet the coming influx of Syrian refugees here.
Sherry, I did reply to your last comment but FlaglerLive refused to publish it. Don’t know why. They’ve done that several other times in the past.
Sherry, Steve is right, we did not publish his comment, but not because of its content. Rather, we were and have been a bit behind: like too many commenters he thinks the entirety of our staff of 600 awaits his comments with bated breath to moderate and approve, even on a Thanksgiving weekend when our staff is down to just 400. So we finally had a look at his comment, and sure enough, it’s like many of his previous ones, too directly and repeatedly insulting to a fellow-commenter to warrant approval. Maybe he’ll try again and try to keep his comments a bit less persona and a bit more relevant to this thread. Happy Thanksgiving.