Immigration is one of the most polarizing issues in modern American politics. Many believe that we shouldn’t let any immigrants into the country; others think we should crack down on illegal immigrants and some believe that anyone should be free to come and go as they please.
At the moment, Syria has a few million refugees who are displaced in Syria and need somewhere to go. These are innocent bystanders in a war and decent families who have had their homes destroyed.
These people, of course, would rather stay in their native countries, but they have no choice but to seek asylum in another country, such as the U.S.
Meanwhile in America, we panic and have mass hysteria every time there’s a terrorist attack. Of course, these terrorist attacks are tragic and must be put to an end, but as we’ve heard from about a billion politicians, they shouldn’t represent Islam as a whole.
The xenophobia in this country has gotten to the point where we’ll suspect someone to be a terrorist simply for wearing traditional Muslim clothes. Islam and the word “terrorist” have become associated in the minds of too many Americans.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. had admitted 10,000 refugees on Aug. 31 of this year. That was a goal set by the White House in fall 2014. Compare that 10,000 with the 4.5 million Syrians who are displaced, according to World Vision.
During this election season, with both candidates having extremely low approval ratings, it’s become trendy to say that you’ll move to Canada, Europe or elsewhere if this or that candidate is elected president. Of course, I know that this is a joke when almost everyone says it, but it’s a perfect example of the mentality of white America.
We see the world as our oyster; if we get in trouble here at any point, Canada and any number of countries will take us in with open arms, but the only thing we’d be running from is a president that makes decisions we don’t agree with.
Some think that Trump or Clinton will be catastrophic as president and result in the downfall of the country, meaning we’d be in the same situation as Syria. Now personally, I think that’s a totally extreme assumption, but even if that hypothetically did occur, we could just leave the country for another. Yet we won’t allow people who desperately need a way out of their country into our own.
It’s not just Syrians; we lump all people of Middle Eastern descent into one group and instantly make assumptions about them simply by their appearance. You could be born in the United States, speak perfect English and be as American as it gets, but if you have an Arab name you can bet that you’ll be stopped by the Transportation Security Administration at any American airport.
Now, we have a presidential candidate calling for a ban on all Muslim refugees and has been open to the idea of having Muslims register themselves. It’s not so surprising that he’s suggesting this, but that so many people agree with him.
We refer to this country as the “great American melting pot,” and it’s true, we are a country with a large mix of people from all cultures of the world, but in our culture, we make subconscious judgements about everyone we see, most of those based on skin color.
Before you even joke about moving to Canada or wherever because of the results of this election, think about how the Syrians need to leave their own country so much more than you need to leave this one.
Elliot Weld can be contacted at Eweld@kscequinox.com