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Turning away Syrian refugees is turning our back on our history

After the attacks in Paris, many American officials have turned against allowing Syrian refugees into the country. (photo/CNN)

After the attacks in Paris, many American officials have turned against allowing Syrian refugees into the country. (photo/CNN)

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, many people have expressed fear and anger in regards to ISIS, its horrific devaluing of human life, and how every country must step up its security.

More specifically, how one of the perpetrators in the Paris attacks had used a fake Syrian passport to enter Europe with the Syrian refugees in France, which he then left at the scene. Additionally, it was found that the perpetrators were domestic, coming mostly from France and Belgium. It had been a ploy on their part to misrepresent and encourage people to turn against the refugees – which they have.  

Many government officials have taken the attacks and used them as justification for preventing refugees from entering the United States. And even though states themselves cannot deny refugees access, it begs some questions. Namely, when did we turn into a country that overlooked our roots and turned against our fellow people?

For those who’ve forgotten their American History, the Founding Fathers and other initial Americans left England to come to North America as…you guessed it…refugees. They were fleeing the religious persecution of the Church of England, as well as the ruling of a leader they deemed corrupt. Sounds a bit similar to the current refugee situation, huh?

Additionally, unless you’re 100 percent Native American, your ancestors were immigrants, people who traveled from somewhere else to the United States. In essence, it’s been the very foundation of this country.

Over time we’ve seen people from all over the world come here in search of a better life. And yet despite this, we seem to continually overlook our history and repeat the errors of our past.

Our current situation draws parallels to the state of the country in WWII, when the majority of Americans did not want to accept Jewish refugees, and many were turned away because some were thought to possibly be Nazi agents. Japanese Americans were also shunned and essentially imprisoned because of what they might do.

The same has been said for the refugees. Many want to prevent them from entering the U.S. based on what they might potentially do. In reality, there is no guarantee that anyone is completely good or completely evil, no matter what background they’re coming from.

And yet officials have said they’d be open to allowing Christian refugees in, but not Muslims, saying that "There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror," as Ted Cruz put it. Robert Lewis Dear, who recently shot up an abortion clinic, doesn't quite support that statement.

But the idea that some people’s lives are worth more than another’s? As if there aren’t people from all backgrounds who also commit horrible crimes? And that the majority of people from all backgrounds are good, decent people?

It’s not a correlation between someone’s religious background and their likelihood to commit terrorism; it’s a correlation between a sick person doing sick things. Again, this sounds a lot like the condition of the Jews under Hitler. To label a whole group is just absurd.

Yet we have people like Presidential Candidate Ben Carson comparing Syrian refugees to rabid dogs that we need to be protected from. These are people fleeing persecution for goodness’ sake. Why would someone spend two years struggling into the unknown just to commit an act of terror? It doesn’t make sense.

Additionally, the screening process that refugees must undergo before entering the United States is extremely rigorous. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has said so. In many cases, it can take up to two whole years, and even then only a small percentage of applicants are admitted.

I mean, come on. Even France, despite the horrors it has faced in its own country, is still promising to allow 30,000 refugees into the country within the next two years.

As Americans, we need to get our acts together. By demanding we put a stop to the very thing that gave us a life on this continent in the first place, we are basically turning against our founding principles in order to protect them?

The founding fathers did not preach hate, and had people of many religious backgrounds in mind when preaching their ideals, including Muslims.

However, regardless of religious, cultural, or geographic affiliations, we must look at the situation as human beings. These are innocent people fleeing the persecution of a corrupt government and a country torn by war. The majority of these people are mothers, children, or families looking for a chance, a fraction of hope, to escape the madness and find peace; people who will contribute to the fabric of society just as the many immigrants before them. 

How can we consciously turn away these people asking for sincere help? Syria itself has opened its doors to refugees many times in the past, so why can’t we do the same?  

Giving in to fear and creating divides between groups of people is exactly what groups like ISIS want. We can’t give in to that.

Doing the right thing may not always be easy, but it’s always right. 

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