I have been struggling for the last few days to try and articulate my utter disgust towards the governor of Texas and his small-minded play for ultra, right-wing support, by stirring up fear and xenophobia among the Texas electorate aimed specially at the refugees trying to escape the ravages of war in Syria. (Not that much needs to be stirred considering how backward most Texans think when it comes to choosing their leaders or to world views. Remember, the name of this blog is Lost in the Lone Star State.) So as I sat to draft about the tenth in a line of blogs, I came across James Ragland’s epic piece this morning in The Dallas Morning News. It says just about everything I feel, and he has done it without calling the governor a dick or a moron, which I was sure to have done.
I, in the name of public service, give you Mr. Ragland’s thoughts.
James Ragland: Welcome home, Syrian refugees
Published: 02 December 2015 10:28 PM
Updated: 02 December 2015 10:49 PM
Dear Syrian refugees:
Please accept my apology for our Texas governor’s failure to make you feel welcome.
Greg Abbott doesn’t speak for all of us — at least not on this issue.
He doesn’t speak for those of us who, while worried about national security and the threat of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, realize the moral imperative of opening our door to you.
The ideals we cherish, the compassion we have for humanity, should prevent us from turning our backs on you now or ever.
This isn’t a leap-of-faith conviction.
It’s a calculated risk that our nation long has accepted; it’s a defining characteristic of our identity as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.
We remain the light on the hill. We keep striving to live up to the uplifting words engraved on a bronze plaque tucked in the bowels of the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
But let’s be honest with each other. The world is a vastly different place now, and America’s role and resolve continue to evolve. Sometimes, we can’t tell the good guys from the bad.
Our sense of security was rocked on 9/11, when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center — about a mile away from where Lady Liberty lifts her torch.
We’ve been on guard ever since. I don’t travel nearly as much as I once did. I constantly worry about my son, who lives abroad. I fret over anti-Christian, anti-Western bigotry and violence abroad, and the virulent strains of Islamophobia infecting my fellow Americans.
The mounting terrorist attacks around the world — most notably the shootings and bombings in Paris that claimed dozens of innocent lives — underscore why many people are wound so tightly.
Yes, the terrorist threats are real.
But so, too, are the daily threats to your existence — the life-or-death dangers of a civil war in Syria that caused you to flee your homeland in search of a safe haven.
It’s incumbent on us as global citizens, as human beings, to understand the crisis from which you’re trying to extricate yourself.
And it’s our responsibility to help, as we’ve always done. As the International Rescue Committee points out, “The State of Texas has long been a safe haven for the world’s most vulnerable refugees.”
Again, I’m sure you can appreciate the unbridled fear behind the panicked reactions to news of your arrival. And I hope you can forgive the crisis in leadership that might make you feel unwelcome in Texas.
With a nudge from Abbott, our state Health and Human Services Commission filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to prevent the IRC from resettling refugees in Dallas later this week.
In Abbott’s mind, apparently, the only way to protect Texas — and the rest of the nation — is to turn our backs on you just when you need us most. Just when we have a chance to show the terrorists that our torch still lights the way to freedom, not just in New York but in Texas and every place in between.
Welcome to your new home.