We live in a great country; most of the time we can be proud to be Americans. However, nobody is perfect. No nation is perfect. There are also times we can be ashamed to be Americans. And this is one of them.
In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, we should all be ashamed of the ugly rhetoric we’ve heard, mainly from Republican politicians and conservative talk-show hosts, about Syrian refugees.
We’re not talking political outliers, either. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several Republican senators have demanded at least a pause, if not an outright ban, on accepting refugees from Syria in the United States.
Common sense tells you that if ISIS were really planning an attack in the United States, they wouldn’t wait two years for some woman or child to make it through the vetting process. They’d recruit an American citizen or somebody who already has a U.S. passport.
What a contrast between America’s knee-jerk rejection of refugees and the response of French President Francois Hollande. Even after terrorists struck in the heart of Paris, he announced that France would still live up to its promise of welcoming 30,000 refugees from Syria. In light of his generosity, and that of many European nations, the real question about President Obama’s goal of 10,000 refugees is not: Why so many? But: Why so few?
There’s one other disturbing aspect to all the Republican rhetoric about refugees: If only they cared as much about American victims of gun violence as they pretend to care about victims of terrorism. Why is it that the very same politicians who demand tougher background checks for Syrian refugees also oppose any background check for somebody buying a gun? And how can they call for such a strong response to ISIS after 129 people are killed in Paris, yet do nothing about 87 people who die of gun violence in the United States every day?
Yes, the victims of terrorism in a Paris concert hall demand attention. But so do the victims of gun violence on the streets of America.