Posted Date: 12/18/2015
Presidential candidates positions on Syrian refugees
By: Kristen Ferrara
Time’s 2015 Person of the Year award was given to Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. Merkel has many accomplishments qualifying her for the title, including her handling of European economic crises and her response to the terror activities occurring too frequently in the region. By far, her most outstanding act has been Germany’s acceptance of nearly one million - 964, 574 to be exact - refugees from Syria and other unstable regions of the Middle East. Merkel’s ability to see migrants as who they actually are - innocent families fleeing religious and social persecution - rather than who the Islamic State wishes for them to be - terrorists - not only makes her an outstanding leader on a global scale but a champion of tolerance and humility second to none.
There are skewed responses to the refugee crisis around the world, the United States being the center for such confusion. With ten popular Republican presidential contenders and three popular Democrats all professing different opinions and solutions, it’s no wonder Americans have a difficult time taking a stance on the issue. Even more upsetting is the fact that the responses of most Republicans are discriminatory based on race, religion, or gender and the actions suggested by Democrats are not nearly enough.
Donald Trump, America’s favorite presidential contender and human being in general, is the epitome of bigotry and ignorance. Trump has announced, and defended, his stance on the ban of Muslim migration to the United States. Two comments. First, this idea senseless as a vast majority of Muslims condemn Islamic extremism, those fleeing IS especially exhibiting disapproval of radicalization. The people running from the terrorists are not the terrorists! Second, this action would be unconstitutional as it violates the First Amendment. Americans have the right to “freedom of religion,” and prohibiting people of a particular religion from entering and practicing their beliefs in this country grossly defies this basic liberty.
Freedom of religion can also be defined as freedom from religion. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have both proposed an idea in which only Christians from Syria and the Middle East would be allowed to enter the United States. The first flaw with this reasoning is the belief that Christians will be less violent than Muslims. As mentioned earlier, the Muslims in the region are not terrorists and will not behave in a way more threatening than the Christians of the region. The second flaw is that there is no guarantee those migrating are actually Christians. How does one prove he’s a Christian? A relationship with God is on a personal level and as a result there is no possible way for screening agencies to determine who is and is not Christian. In addition, it is ridiculous, inhumane, and even unChristian to value a particular group over another and leave the less valuable one helpless and ready to die. Let me point out the most obvious issue at hand: this would be unconstitutional. It is ironic that these “Republicans,” who supposedly value strict adherence to the constitution which is evident through their call to abolish Obamacare and defend the rights of gun owners, would so easily damn the very document and its influence to protect those following America’s religion - Christianity.
Marco Rubio has suggested to only allow women, children, and the elderly to enter the United States. This is offensive on so many levels. First is the fact that the sentence reads women then children as if the two are equally incapable of taking care of themselves. These dependents most definitely need a brave, religious man like Mr. Rubio to step in and save them from the Muslims. Rubio’s statement is a gross display of benevolent sexism. Mr. Rubio is willing give women “special” (by that I mean unequal) treatment if women embrace their subordination. The tragic reality is that so many women would accept this offer, at the expense of their husbands, sons, and dignity, to continue their lives. It’s this rhetoric that holds back females and forces them to embrace their current social standings rather than strive for equality.
Ben Carson and Donald Trump both advocate increased surveillance. Islamophobic Trump has called for separate databases for Muslims. Ben Carson says, “In the larger capacity, we should monitor anything – mosques, church, school, you know, shopping centers – where there is a lot of radicalization going on.” There is a commonality between the two stances: both call for increased surveillance of American Muslims, who do not support terrorism in the slightest. The few that may have in the past likely did so only because an FBI informant illegally tricked them into committing a crime. Pursuing American Muslims increases distrust in the government and alienates an essential ally in stopping terrorism.
All of these stances are hypocritical. The true Republican party, the one I would identify with if it existed, believes that a limited government is necessary for the maintenance of individual liberties. This party would condemn a national endorsement or ban of a particular religion as this is unconstitutional, would never pass legislation which subordinates women and potentially limits their rights, and would be an adamant advocate of decreased government surveillance. Unfortunately, none of the candidates above share these values. Maybe the Democrats have a better stance...
Martin O’Malley, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders have all called for the acceptance of 65,000 refugees. This may be the figure suggested by the U.N. but it is not nearly enough. There are an estimated 4 million people displaced by the chaos in Syria. Democrats suggest we take 65,000 while Germany is accepting 964, 574. This acceptance rate is extremely disproportionate and unfair to Germany and other European countries attempting to support the refugees. John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, has suggested that the U.S. should take a minimum of 100,000 refugees, and this figure is likely a better starting point. At least these candidates don’t exhibit intolerant or even hostile, in Trump’s case, sentiment toward the refugees.
The Islamic State wins when America does not have an adequate response. Innocent Syrian and Iraqi families continue to be slaughtered, Muslims around the globe begin to despise American leaders for their lack of response as Islam adherents face these atrocities, and Islamophobic sentiment grows in America, alienating a crucial ally and cultural benefactor. It is important for the public to know and understand the values of presidential candidates, as their beliefs impact legislation and action in the future. An improper character perception could be the difference between the tragic outcome listed above and the endurance of American ideals.