This opinion editorial, written by one of our board members, Bob Norris, ran in the Longmont Daily Times-Call, 12/13/15:
There are a lot of things to think about regarding Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
ISIS is a brutal organization that needs to be terminated but does not reflect any reasonable interpretation of the faith of +Muslims any more than white Christian extremists should reflect on all Christians.
The U.S.-led war in Iraq created many terrorists. The crass comments by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush (shock and awe) following the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians were barbaric at best and offended many. That war targeted a country not responsible for 9/11. Cheney misled many to believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Years of collateral damage and U.S. insensitivity to deaths of women, children and often entire families are clearly offensive to those living in countries that we are bombing. Wars create civilian deaths, but when Americans die there is outrage in this country. When citizens of Middle East countries die there is little sense of empathy and often little or no coverage in US papers.
Are these things not strong recruiting messages for terrorists? Additionally adding to the recruitment of terrorists is the xenophobic attitudes of many here in the U.S. and in other nations such as France. Bigoted comments by presidential candidates Trump, Carson and Bush (only allow Christians in) cause resentment and create fear and hatred. It is startling that the comments by some presidential candidates are not being addressed by other candidates or their party leaders. Both Trump and Carson lied about Muslims celebrating in Jersey City streets after 9/11. It has been refuted by Jersey City Police and many others.
Reminiscent of Nazi Germany: In response to a suggestion/question as to whether Muslims should register and carry special identifications, Trump said that he would not rule it out.
Trump did not rule out shutting down mosques. Maybe freedom of religion is not for everybody.
Trump and others are effective recruiters of terrorists.
Arriving in the U.S. as a refugee is a long process. The very extensive vetting process takes 18-24 months. Security screenings are conducted vigorously by the FBI, the Department of Defense, and Homeland Security. Those that enter are handpicked. If members of Congress now think that this is not sufficient where have they been?
States do not have the authority to decide who can enter their state.
There are much easier ways to enter this country, including tourist visas. Given that most or of the terrorists in Paris were/are, according to a recent Times-Call editorial, European citizens, we should be more concerned about home grown terrorists in our own country. Many young men (and a few women) have traveled to the Mideast to be trained as terrorists and then returned. Recruiting over the Internet is common.
We should also acknowledge that refugees have been accepted in large numbers in Europe from Syria, Iraq and other countries. These are individuals and families often fleeing for their lives. Syrian refugees have been fleeing violence for five years.
We continue to do knee-jerk reactions much to the liking of ISIS and other terrorists. Instead of thinking through the consequences of our action we rush to pass a bill through Congress. Unlike the resilience of the French who suffered greatly we appear to be cowards. The bill that was rushed through Congress may not have been read carefully by those who voted in the affirmative. Requiring the heads of three major agencies to personally vouch for each and every refugee is at best foolish and in my opinion particularly stupid. This is not how to run a government. There are reasons for chains of command. Tying up an agency head on details means that the agency head cannot correctly run that agency. This part of the bill looks more like a childish reaction and stupid.
Speeches by Trump and others should remind us of the damage caused by the Republican U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, whose witch hunt for make-believe communists damaged many careers and lives.
While we have to deal with the current situation, we need to look at and address causes to the extent that we can.
Bob Norris is a resident of Longmont since 2000.