What are you thinking about right now?
I hope you’re thinking about casting your ballots in local elections and the governor’s race, if you haven’t done so already. It’s important.
I voted early last week and wore my “I voted” sticker on my shirt, hoping to inspire others.
I’m glad this frightful mess of a governor’s race is about over. It was a race of personal attacks and little substance. But that’s where campaign strategy is, and sadly, whether we want to admit it, we are responsible for it. Neither we, nor the media, demand more from the candidates. The laziness of “he said, she said” stories is easy to write, and they sell. We deserve more.
That said, many people are thinking about the question of what do we do with the thousands of Syrian refugees headed to the U.S., in light of the horrific slaughter in Paris by the Islamic State.
Many of the Syrian refugees will be Christians, but there will be thousands of Muslims. The Christians are widely considered part of the “good team” and are more accepted by Americans. Muslims, to many Americans, equal 9/ll, videoed beheadings by the Islamic State, and being responsible for the bombings, shootings and nearly 200 dead in Paris.
Some say send us the Christians but leave those Muslims where they are.
There is a bit of irony in the fact that this rhetoric comes about because of the killings in France. It is a phrase on a gift from the French — the Statue of Liberty — that is supposed to reflect what separates America from other countries.
You learned those words engraved on the statue that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
There are many who believe there should be a few more words added. “But not Muslims, and for right now, slow down the masses from Mexico, and Central and South America.”
We are at a peculiar moment in our history. Do we deny the children and families from war-torn Syria from coming ashore?
No matter where you stand on this, everyone is correct to a certain degree. Folks have a right to be afraid there might be just one or two terrorists among the 10,000 or so refugees that President Barack Obama’s administration says it wants to resettle.
But, are we not a nation built on immigrants, the millions who came here voluntarily to escape religious persecution and, yes, the immigrants who arrived here at gunpoint on slave ships?
At a recent meeting I attended about something totally different, this discussion came up, and there was no consensus.
One person mentioned that we have more to fear from our home-grown terrorists that shoot up people in movie theaters, in shopping malls, along with urban killers who are killing children and preschoolers.
“What if some other countries refused to allow Americans there because one American might be a Timothy McVeigh (168 killed, over 600 injured), Adam Lanza (26 dead), or Dylann Roof (nine killed in a church)?” Good question.
It is quite a quandary. But I can’t live my life scared. I believe this nation has to live up to what it is and find a way to bring carefully vetted refugees into our country. We have allowed people to relocate here from countries that we have fought in war because that’s who we are.
We can do this. We should do this.
Update: Here is a note of Thanksgiving for me.
My column last week about Lucien Salvant, one of my favorite and best college professors who steered me in the right direction, drew a response from him. He sent me an email saying friends called and emailed him copies of my column. Salvant, retired and living in Florida, said he gives me an A for my column. That helps to make my Thanksgiving special.
Edward Pratt, a south Louisiana freelancer writer, can be reached through email@example.com.