It has long been said that the true definition of courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the ability to take action in the face of fear. In the wake of a horrific terror attack in the heart of Paris, France’s actions are about as courageous as could ever be asked of its people.
Despite the fear-mongering and the pressure from right-wing elements in both France and the United States, France’s president Francois Hollande renewed his vow to take in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and urged Parisians not to allow a few terrorists to stop them from living their lives to the fullest.
“30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment,” explaining that they will undergo vigorous security checks.
Hollande noted that “some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubts in their minds,” but called it a “humanitarian duty” to help those people … but one that will go hand in hand with “our duty to protect our people.”
“We have to reinforce our borders while remaining true to our values,” he said.
The French people have been remarkably brave throughout the harrowing ordeal. It’s the right-wing elements in America, thousands of miles away, that have truly succumbed to the fear. In state after state, Republican governors announced that they would be attempting to block any Syrian refugees from being resettled there. In Congress, the GOP quickly drafted up legislation that would – depending on who was writing it – ban all refugees or ban all refugees but the Christian ones.
All of this was done directly in the face of the evidence emerging from the Paris investigation. In fact, no Syrian refugee has thus far been named as one of the terrorists. They principally came from the EU itself. A Syrian passport made to look like a refugees turned out to be a fake – possibly planted by ISIS to sow confusion.
Refugees more generally have a remarkably low chance of being future assailants. Out of the 784,000 Muslims taken in by the United States since 9/11, one has been arrested for being involved in terrorism. The facts are clear: refugees do not pose a threat. They are rigorously screened, interviewed, and checked. You wouldn’t know any of this if you simply listened to what Republican leaders are saying. Chris Christie recently swore he would block even “5-year-old orphans” from coming into his state, because he didn’t want to take the “risk.” Ted Cruz, whose father was a refugee from Cuba, is actively trying to ban non-Christians from being allowed into the United States. A Tennessee politician is now working on deporting the Syrians already living in his state and “politely take them back.”
Thankfully, President Obama and many Democratic governors have stood firm against this growing xenophobic rhetoric. Like Hollande, Obama has vowed to uphold the United States’ moral duty by helping averting the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Middle East. At a recent press conference, he called out Republicans for their not-so-brave stances in the face of unfortunate victims of strife.
“At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
If they ever want to get serious about being tough, Hollande just gave them an perfect example of how to do it.
Feature image via Martin Schultz/Flickr