By Terence Htoo
As of today, 31 governors in the United States oppose sheltering Syrian refugees. All but one of them are Republican governors. Based on this alone, it seems as though conservatives in general are opposed to helping other human beings who are in need. The rationale behind this opposition appears logical at rst glance. By preventing Syrian refugees from entering the United States, the government would protect people from terrorists posing as refugees. This would somehow ensure national security and protect the American people and their values from the onslaught of radical terrorists. What can get more conservative than that? However, in truth, this is far from conservatism. This is pure xenophobia that actually tarnishes the sacred values of conservatism.
You’ve probably heard of this cliché but true statement: America is a nation of immigrants. From the first and second waves of immigration in the early and mid 1800s that brought in the Germans and the Irish to the third and fourth waves of immigration in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century that brought in Asian and Latino immigrants, America has been allowing individuals from other countries to come in, seek refuge, make good use of opportunities, advance as a people, and give back to their “new home.” It’s almost like it is an American tradition! If conservative principles were to uphold tradition, then wouldn’t welcoming refugees from Syria be doing just that?
Secondly, conservatives believe in empowering the individual no matter who they are. Conservatives do not believe in hand-outs, but they surely believe in providing opportunities for people who will make the most of them for their self-growth and the greater good of their community. Allowing Syrian refugees to come in will be doing just that. Sure, they will probably need some government assistance during the first few months of their arrival, but that won’t be for long. According to International Business Times, Syrian refugees are more likely than refugees from other countries to come from professional backgrounds. Therefore, they are the kind of people who would be able to quickly take the opportunities provided to them in America to better themselves and give back to the nation. Immigrants are twice as likely to start a business than native-born individuals. Immigrants contribute more per capita through taxes compared to native-born Americans. That is what empowered individuals look like! If that does not suggest making the most out of opportunities and giving back to the nation, then I don’t know what does.
Finally, conservatives respect the dignity of all life whether it is the unborn or the elderly. Why can’t we then extend that dignity to Syrian refugees whose livelihoods were shattered into oblivion as war broke out in their home? The majority of refugees, if not all, are innocent victims of human cruelty. Refusing to help them because there is a slim possibility of pathetic inhumane terrorists posing as needy refugees is absurd. I’m not saying that the government should blindly accept anyone claiming to be a Syrian refugee. There needs to be systematic measures taken to ensure that the people who come in as refugees are legitimate and that they pose no threat to national security. But to blatantly prevent innocent human beings from acquiring life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is surely immoral and un-American.
Although accepting refugees aligns with conservative appreciation of life, some reason against it due to our inability to address domestic problems. There are domestic problems such as veteran homelessness and many others that are affecting our nation. Those issues, of course, should not be ignored. However, we don’t neglect a dying man just because we are sick. Throughout history, we have combated multiple issues at once. Having existing problems doesn’t always impact our ability to multitask. Also, I understand that America shouldn’t be the only nation helping refugees. After all, why aren’t some of the most peaceful and prosperous Arab states not letting Syrian refugees into their countries? Shouldn’t they be helping out too? Of course, they should! But their inactivity does not give America the reason to follow their ways. Let’s be an example to others as we’ve always been. We’re a world leader, and leaders lead by example.
If we truly believe in upholding traditions that make America great, if we truly believe in empowering individuals with opportunities, if we truly believe that life begins at conception and that it is sacred until death, then why are we opposed to exercising these beliefs? Let’s distinguish ourselves from xenophobes. Let’s be conservatives who truly understand what their values are and use them for the good of humanity.