I’ve been disappointed by the strong movement to push for the U.S. government to halt acceptance of Syrian refugees in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris. This seems to me to be allowing fear to overtake our humanity, compassion, intelligence, and common sense.
Let’s be clear: It is obvious that no one can guarantee that no single terrorist will slip in along with the tens of thousands of refugees, fleeing terror themselves.
But there are many risks no one can guarantee to protect us from that we reasonably open ourselves every day to by our laws, policies, and practices.
Every time I fly I see hundreds of people skipping security checkpoints to pass through the TSA “pre-check” route. Sure, they’ve been officially vetted in the past, but you can’t guarantee they haven’t been radicalized since then. Of course, common sense tells us the chances are that are so small, it’s worth the “risk” to speed up the process for everyone.
Many schools are installing metal detectors at their doors to protect students. But they’re not putting bars on the windows to prevent the bad guys from coming in that way! This is taking a risk. But there’s only so much one can reasonably do to eliminate risk without sacrificing other important values, right?
One example that seemed to me to be especially worthwhile is this one: We’ve seen a lot of terrible gun violence in the United States. Deranged or evil people have successfully gone after elementary school students, college students, movie-goers, black church-goers, and more. And statistics make clear that this problem, while not exclusively American, is predominantly American, here in this country with our very permissive guns laws. Time and time again, leaders and activists have called for reasonable restrictions on access to guns, only to be dismissed and mocked by many on the right, who criticize their willingness to sacrifice our freedoms in an abundance of caution.
So like I said, I thought that was an especially apt analogy when considering the current move to “pause” the influx of refugees out of an abundance of caution. I chose to make that point this week to several of our lawmakers via Twitter, including those who sponsored the “American SAFE Act,” a bill that passed handily in the House of Representatives to do just that.
One of those I tweeted was U.S. Representative Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, who co-sponsored the act.
I tweeted: “.@RepRichHudson: Funny, I don’t remember your call for a #pause on permissive gun control regs after Sandy Hook or Umpqua.”
And to my surprise, Rep. Hudson tweeted back! Taking time out of his busy congressional schedule, he (or one of his communications people) wrote to me: “I will blame your iPhone for that ridiculous Tweet. #ThinkAboutIt”
Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit it, and I suppose it’s the result of my wonky, civics-loving nature, not to mention a hearty respect for our government and its leaders, but my first and strongest reaction has been that I’m just delighted that a U.S. congressman chose to tweet to me at all, despite the fact that he did it to say my comment was “ridiculous.”
Of course, being called ridiculous by a congressman is a little disheartening, once you get thinking about it. And it’s hard not to wonder about taking it so personally that I’d not want to vote for members of his party in the future, though I’ve cast plenty of votes during my adult life for Republicans in the past. But I know that would be an over-reaction.
My kids told me I should look on the bright side: all the Democrats who see that will think I’m really cool. There is that.
If they do, maybe some of our lawmakers on that side of the aisle will be willing to hear me out on abortion. I’ll need to take a breath before that conversation, though. One can only be called ridiculous so often.