President Obama’s press conference Monday in Turkey could not have been more inspiring, although apparently the governors of 31 states, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, were not moved.
The President spoke of the need to address the agony of the Syrian people, but many governors are attempting to keep refuges out. The president acknowledged the need for safety but also called for compassion.
“(All) of our countries have to ensure our security. And as President, my first priority is the safety of the American people. And that’s why, even as we accept more refugees – including Syrians – we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.
“We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves – that’s what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”
The president said the fact that Turkey has kept its borders open to 2.5 million refugees “is a signal of their belief in a common humanity.
“And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution – that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
“When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit to those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable. ...
“I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam. And the notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’s not who we are. On this, they should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse. And whether you are European or American, the values that we are defending – the values that we’re fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.”
Those who would only help Christians might recall their own teachings, such as the story of the Good Samaritan, given in answer to the question, “Who is my brother?”
— Susan Thacker