December 24, 2011
Immigrants and refugees: Is There Room at the Inn?
At Christmas, we hear once again about refugees---this time the family of Joseph, Mary, and the soon-to-be born Baby Jesus. It is a touching story—and timelessly evocative of so many millions of people who have had to flee for their lives from persecution.
The 20th century has been a time of the largest dislocation of people in history. World Wars I and II uprooted millions, all seeking sanctuary in the West. However, there was no rush of refugees to the Middle East or to the Communist world; on the contrary, walls and laws were built to keep the people from leaving.
Today, for the first time since the Dark Ages, Europe is facing the same torrent of refugees that the United States and Israel took in after World War II: refugees who fled from monstrous abuse elsewhere. It is wonderful to be given such refuge, but with it comes responsibilities that some do not accept, with terrible consequences for the hosts.
President Obama recently quoted from the “Square Deal” speech by President Theodore Roosevelt. But there was another speech that we should know. During the refugee flood to America that peaked at the turn of the 20th century, President Roosevelt spoke on immigrant responsibilities. He said:
"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
It is too bad that European countries did not have such guidance. In naive liberalism, Europe has admitted a flood of migrants without attempting to compell them to make the choice: assimilate to our 200-year-old modern civilization or go back to your homelands. Although the majority of Muslim refugees in Europe want to remain, they are being seduced by an international movement, Jihadi Islam, that insists that yeilding to Western culture is an insult to Islam.
Catholic schools displaying crucifixes on the classroom walls are being sued by Muslims who feel “insulted,” and nursery schools are harrangued for reading “The Three Little Pigs” to children. Something is wrong with this. When publications that dare to be irreverant toward Islam (as they are to all establishments) are fire-bombed by irate Muslims, freedom of speech is under assault. Too many are now afraid to offend these Islamists. All Europeans (and Americans) should respond with indignation and arrests.
Many Americans are concerned over our flood of refugees from Mexico and Central America. All prior immigrants to this country: Germans, Irish, Jews, Italians, Chinese, and Japanese, were initially feared by those already here. However, they took Theodore Roosevelt’s admonitions to heart. All, including the present ones from Mexico, want to become good Americans. Secular Muslims (such as Iranians who fled from the Ayatollah’s nightmare theocracy) have also become good Americans. Decent Muslim families from Somalia who have gone to the FBI to report the pied pipers who are seducing their boys into becoming Jihadi terrorists, are good Americans—despite attacks from Islamists activists such as CAIR, calling them “turncoats.”
There should always be room at the inn for those who want to join us. The others should not be given this sanctuary. One does not let wolves come in to take over the house.
Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of “How Do You Know That?” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.globalt