“Tide of Refugees, but the West Isn’t Welcoming”
The New York Times, April 18, 2015, p.A1
“With Syria’s neighbors increasingly shutting their borders to refugees and thousands trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety, the war in Syria is creating the worst global refugee crisis in decades, putting new pressure on the United States and other Western countries to open their doors — and in turn, prompting domestic political backlash. Not since the wave of people who fled Southeast Asia after the war in Vietnam have the world’s industrialized countries been under such intense pressure to share the burden of taking in refugees, experts say. Nor has the task of offering sanctuary been so politically fraught. The United States is scheduled to take in its largest group of Syrian refugees to date — up to 2,000 by the fall of this year, compared with a total of about 700 since the civil war in Syria began four years ago, according to the State Department. But the plan is stirring pushback from Republican lawmakers in Congress, who are increasingly vocal about the fear that terrorists may sneak in with the refugees. … The United Nations high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, has stepped up calls for industrialized countries, including the United States, to shelter 130,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years. … The American decision to accept more refugees reflects how swiftly the Syrian war has morphed into the most pressing humanitarian crisis in recent years. Generally, resettling large numbers of refugees happens long after other options are exhausted, like the possibility of displaced people eventually returning home. While the Republicans have not called for a full-on moratorium on Syrian refugee admissions, they have urged the Obama administration to go slow, until the United States can be assured that all applicants are properly screened. A congressional hearing is due in the coming weeks.”
Quickie analysis: It’s long been clear that President Obama and the Republican party are operating from fundamentally different worldviews and values, perhaps most aptly characterized as hope (naive optimism?) vs. fear (paranoia?). The Syrian refugees are yet another casualty of America’s multiple personality disorder.