A disturbing column was posted today by the Boston Herald suggesting that America close its doors to refugees from places like Chechnya. This is in direct opposition to our nation’s founding principles and of America’s history as a place of promise for the hopeless. Here is small part of the column’s tirade against Muslim refugees that was posted:
Look at the chaos and the tragedy these Chechens have inflicted on the people of Boston this week. Who asked them to come here? What exactly do they contribute to the culture? They have had everything — absolutely everything — handed to them.
Obviously, no other country in the world wanted these sharia-crazed Stone Age Muslim terrorists.
Howie Carr, the columnist, is wrong. Refugees, especially refugees from Muslim regions, do not have everything handed to them. Many of them flee to this country with very little education or financial security and then take whatever jobs may be available while desperatley trying to learn English.
They are often forced into terrible housing with little to no medical benefits, not enough to truly take care of their families. The poor housing also means that many refugees end up in areas plagued by drugs and gang violence, which leads to another issue Carr mentioned in his column;
You can see the decay everywhere — in the emergency rooms, in the courts, in the welfare offices and, yes, in the epidemic of senseless murders.
The situation many immigrants face is not the America they dreamed of, but for most it is still better to fear death in the land of opportunity than to be sure of it in their home country.
As the New York Times posted on April 21, many Chechen refugees are lucky. They do not look like other Muslims and do not have a distinct Middle Eastern accent. Many Americans know little about the terrible situation in Chechnya, which is not strictly about religious differences but also involves Russia’s forced power over a region desperate to become a seperate nation.
The Tsarnaev brothers should have been spotted as potential terrorists but the entire region of Chechenya cannot be blamed for their actions. Likewise, the entire nation of Islam cannot be blamed for the actions of a few radicals. As the timeline of their hatred for the US is pieced together, it echoes a tremendous similarity with the stories of young Americans who decide to join neo-Nazi or terror enviormantalism movements. So who is to blame? Refugees trying to give their children a better life?
But maybe Carr’s original questions should be anwered first: who asked these refugees to come here and what do they contribute?
The answer to Carr’s first question is surprisingly simple: no one. No one asked them to come. Just like no one asked the original colonists trying to escape religious persecution to come. Nor did anyone ask the German populous to come in the early 18th century to escape the archaic socitey in their homeland, though they gave America a devotion to public education and good beer. No invitation was given to the French immigrants who fled the French Revolution or the slave revolts in Haiti, though they have created wonderful and beloved communities through out the US and Canada.
No one asked the Irish to come during the Great Potato Famine, nor were they or others from the British Isles asked to come to the United States, and the Irish, Scottish and Welsh had been fighting against the same power Americans had for much longer with much better causes. Luckily for the United States, they came anyway. Many of them greatly contributed to the wonder that is Boston.
Immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe were told rather bluntly they were not invited at all, along with Jews. Luckily, they came anyway and have greatly contruibuted to our society. Sadly, many Jews and people from certain regions in Europe were unable to flee the Third Reich because of American immigration policies.
Some immigrants were invited. People from China, Japan, and Korea were invited to come and work on the railroads that brought our country together. Like them, Latin Americans were also told that the US harvest was ripe and the workers were few. Both groups rushed to claim these opportunites and escape devistating poverty and violence in their homelands. The opportunites here were not as promised, but they stayed anyway and helped contribute to their country even as they were belittled and treated like second-class citizens.
We cannot say for sure what specifically the Chechen refugees have contributed as a whole, but if the uncle of the two Tsarnaev brothers is any example of the Chechen people in America, then they are well-loved by their neighbors, co-workers and other members of their community. I wonder if Carr considered the impact this attack would have on Chechen and other refugees from traditionally Muslim regions when he wrote this:
This is what I was thinking about yesterday, with much of the city under what amounted to martial law. Once more, law-abiding American citizens were paying the price for the insane immigration policies that have so damaged this society in recent years.
Tragedies like attack on the Boston Marathon are never acceptable and there is never a reason for innocent lives to be lost. Prejudiced and ignorant rants do not honor the victims, it does not honor the other runners (many of which came from around the world), and it does not honor Boston.