It did not take long — just three days — for a false controversy to be generated in the wake of the weekend’s attack on Paris.
A visceral reaction is understandable: When teams of psycho bombers blast through a city like Paris, it certainly gets everyone’s attention. And the whole point of terrorism is to instill fear. In that way, the siege of Paris was successful.
It hit home in a way that the suicide bombs in Lebanon the day before did not: These were rock shows and cafés and soccer games, targeted in commando-style raids across the city. This was Paris, and though many Americans still would have trouble placing it on they globe, even the most insular of us has at least heard of the City of Light.
Compared to Paris, Beirut will always be the “other.”
It’s the same way for the Syrian refugees headed for our shores — perhaps they look a little too much like Mexicans for our governor’s taste.
Just three days after the death toll in Paris passed 100 — and 40 in Beirut — Gov. Pat McCrory joined more than a dozen other governors in officially requesting that their states no longer take in Syrian refugees. As of press time, all but one of the 20 governors are Republican, with Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire the lone outlier.
These refugees are the people who fled their home country because acts like those in Paris and Beirut have become regular occurrences. A civil war has diminished Syria’s population by 20 percent, down to 16.6 million from 22 million. The United Nations estimates there are 3 million Syrian refugees seeking asylum. The rest of them are probably dead.[pullquote]States don’t have the authority to deny sanctuary approved by the feds.[/pullquote]
Why, then, would North Carolina turn its back?
The truth is that it cannot. States don’t have the authority to deny sanctuary approved by the feds. We’ve already taken in 59 of the 10,000 refugees President Barack Obama has pledged to resettle here this year. More are in the pipeline.
But McCrory, empowered by his partisan echo chamber, driven by his impending election and fueled by bad information — a fake Syrian passport was found at the scene of one Paris bombing — will put on his show anyway, ensuring that the few dozen Syrians who make it to our state will receive the kind of welcome for which we are increasingly becoming known, full of fear, mistrust and anger.
It wasn’t always like this. North Carolina, and the Triad in particular, has a rich history of providing safe haven for the oppressed. Look no further than the Montagnards, whose presence has enriched Guilford County for decades.
Or look to the Muslims already living in North Carolina — 26,000 of them as of 2013, with nary an explosion to their names.