Observations about the World - Refugees and Terrorists

By Kent Hackmann

I am saddened by the hasty, knee-jerk reaction in the halls of Congress and across the country regarding the question of accepting refugees.

I am reminded of the American reaction a few days after 9/11. Around the country thoughtful people were meeting to discuss the questions, who are the persons who flew into the twin towers and why do they seem to hate us? The answer to the first was that the attackers were mainly Saudi, and the answer to the second question required a great deal of dispassionate study that did not happen. Instead, the terrorists got what they wanted: revenge for perceived insults (American bases on holy land, for example), publicity, and reaction. They got the last in spades: The President, backed by neocons, called for swift retaliation, and the Congress, took us to war. Had the conversations taken place and voices of reason been heard and war averted, we would have remained at peace, and would now have far lower national debt (the administration said that grateful Iraqis would use their oil profits to pay for liberating them) and the Middle East would be a far different place today. In the war against Iraq, policy blunders turned millions against the United States.

So what should be done about the refugees? I suggest that they be admitted after careful screening. Historically, persons fleeing their homes are among the best — many highly educated and skilled at their professions, and highly motivated as well. These are just the kinds of persons we want to come to our country. Welcoming refugees is one of our best answers to jihadi nihilism. Not welcoming them creates a mass of stateless people who will never forget, as Michael Ignatieff wrote recently, “that they were denied the right to have rights.”

In no way do I minimize ISIL’s disregard for human life or the reality of a pervasive fear of terrorists. Regarding the latter, I experienced first hand, when in residence in London years ago, the way Londoners remained calm in the face of terrorist bombs. I suggest that a close study of British strategies in combating Irish terrorists over decades would be instructive for us today.


Kent Hackmann

Comment here