Stimson in the News

Johanna Mendelson Forman’s Op-ed in The Hill on Syrian Refugees

in Program

It is time to have a national conversation about identity. And there is no better place to have this conversation than at the table. It is, after all, that time of year. On Thanksgiving, we customarily gather with family and friends to celebrate a holiday that features sharing a communal meal. So why not extend this tradition to host a follow-on dinner with friends and neighbors to consider why this nation of refugees has been the greatest experiment in democracy? And why, at this moment, so many leaders are trying to prevent Syrian refugees from reaching our shores? Gathering around the table is a first step in the conversation about the fear that has been evoked by the recent terrorist attacks.

If we continue to conflate terrorism with fear of refugees and immigrants, our nation is at risk of compromising the values and philosophy that our Founding Fathers so eloquently proclaimed in our Constitution. Refugees are not the enemy; ignorance is. If we continue to let the conversation about refugees be dominated by politicians whose arguments bear no semblance of truth and are contrary to the facts, we will become a society that lives by fear rather than light. Just look at the Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which received a House vote on Nov. 19, just two days after it was introduced. The vote succeeded 289-137, with almost all Republicans, and 47 Democrats, voting in favor. Would that other pending important legislation receive such timely action. (The president has said that he would veto the bill if it also passes the Senate.)

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