"Yes, ISIS is trying to hijack Islam with its wanton violence and terror attacks, just like the KKK and German fascists tried to hijack Christianity. That's why the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject ISIS, and the majority of Christians rejected the KKK; it does not represent their faith,” wrote Maureen Fiedler, Host Interfaith Voices – a National Public Radio (NPR) magazine, for the National Catholic Reporter. In these troubled times, when the old order in the Middle East is crumbling, emotions have often overpowered reasoning. Adding fuel to the fires stoked by hate and fear alike, politicians are once again promoting policies that tend towards some slippery slopes that history has been flashing red signs for long. The discovery of Syrian passports near the mass murder scenes in Paris on November 13, 2015 has unleashed both fear and revulsion while unmasking the dark sides of political opportunism. Neither ‘refugee’ nor ‘welcome’ are four letter words but both ‘hate’ and ‘fear’ are so. On November 21, 2015, the New York Times published a story “AP FACT CHECK: When Truth Is a Casualty of Terrorist Fears” separating facts from the fictitious hyperbole. Two examples are listed below.

TRUMP: "Our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria."

THE FACTS: Not even close, but Trump routinely throws out the figure anyway.

BUSH: "In the law, it requires a religious test. ... It is a requirement, as you go through the screening process, that religion is an element to it."

THE FACTS: No religious test is required for people seeking asylum or refugee status.

Responsible leadership requires both determination and discretion. One day before Thanksgiving, on November 25, 2015, the White House tweeted: “We are both equipped to prevent attacks, and resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm. “ - @POTUS. Regardless of one’s view about what President Barack Obama should or should not have done in Syria, there appears to be a consistent message that America’s welcome mat woven in the timeless Emma Lazarus poem still remains fresh.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The myth about Syrian Refugees is that 70% of the immigrants are single young adult men. However, according to #RefugeesWelcome, about 77% of the refugees admitted to the U.S. were women and children. Refugees_Myth_vs_Facts On November 24, 2015, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson provided a detailed explanation of the thorough process of admitting refugees into the U.S. Each person fleeing the kind of horrible conditions faced in Syria must first be processed and certified as a refugee by the United Nations (UN) staff. There is a rigorous screening process that must be followed by specially trained personnel within different governmental agencies such as DHS and the US Department of State. Fortunately, in this land of the free and the home of the brave, bigotry has not besmirched the best of America. Refugees_Certified_by_UN_Status US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power stated it best in her tweet on November 25, 2015: “Einstein, @Madeleine, Wiesel. We are stronger, more beautiful when we open doors to those in need http://on.fb.me/1O03SJC #RefugeesWelcomeAmbassador_Samantha_Power_Tweet_on_Refugees On Tuesday November 24, 2015, President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Emilio and Gloria Estefan. British newspaper Guardian correctly noted that “pop hits with Latino influences are de rigueur now – and no one has had a greater impact on this state of affairs than Cuban-Americans Gloria and Emilio Estefan” The article notes how her grove got America and the world. Ms. Estefan was a refugee from the oppression in Cuba. On November 21, 2015 President Obama tweeted: “They're just like our kids, and they deserve love, and protection...and an education.” In doing so, he is proving that bigotry has not besmirched the best in the home of the brave where we celebrate Thanksgiving for all the freedoms we enjoy. Between the lines, the President is also saying that the women and children seeking a chance to breathe free are refugees not fugitives.

C Naseer Ahmad
C. Naseer Ahmad is a contributor to Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.