Wednesday, September 9, 2015

O'Malley's Courageous Refugee Stand

I didn't think there was any intelligent comment I could offer on the European refugee crisis, but Martin O'Malley - naturally - brought to light something very unsettling about it.  While European nations are struggling to bring in refugees from wars in Africa and the Middle East, the United States has brought in very few of them.  We should be bringing in about 70,000 refugees from Syria, a country engulfed in two wars - the civil war against President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State War that attempts to found a new country based on fundamentalist Sunni Islam - but we're only bringing in eight thousand. Compare that to Germany, which is taking in 800,000 in a country of 82 million people - that's the equivalent of the United States taking in 3.2 million refugees, far less than the 70,000 that the global anti-poverty group Oxfam says we should be admitting.
This past Friday, Martin O’Malley became the first presidential candidate of either party to call for the United States to accommodate 65,000 refugees by the end of 2016.  In a press release, O'Malley said, "We must do more to support Syrian refugees - and we must certainly welcome more than the proposed 5,000 to 8,000 refugees next year."
Don't expect too many candidates on either side, with the possible (likely?) exception of Bernie Sanders - to follow Marty's lead.   On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton gave a milquetoast response to the refugee crisis, downplaying the idea of bringing in more refugees in her interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell and only saying in that same interview that "we should do our part, as should the Europeans," and that the refugee situation "is a broader, global crisis."  (Most of the media's focus on the interview concerned - you guessed it - her e-mails, just as O'Malley feared when he said that Democrats were ceding a place in the national discourse to the GOP by not having more presidential debates.)  And the Republicans?  I think presidential candidate Rand Paul may have been speaking for most (all?) of them when he said that letting so many Syrians in the country could bring in more terrorists.
Excuse me?  Isn't the partial occupation of Syria by the Islamic State - brought on in part by American meddling in Iraq - part of the reason so many Syrians are trying to get the heck away from their homeland?    
You could argue that O'Malley is making this statement to draw attention to his admittedly flagging campaign.  I wouldn't.  Because, at a time when Americans are furious over immigrants, how would it be politically beneficial to advocate bringing more foreigners into the United States?  But that's exactly what O'Malley is doing.  And he's absolutely right.  He's taken the moral high ground on this issue, and we'll be able to determine the character of his opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination - especially you, Hillary! - by how fast they join Marty on it.       
I wrote earlier on this blog that O'Malley means it when he says that all lives matter.  His stand on Syrian refugees should pretty much prove that statement right.

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