Should the US Accept Syrian Refugees: One Christian’s Response

Though it’s been brewing for a while, the terrorist attacks in Paris have brought the Syrian refugee crisis to a boil in America. Right now, 27 US Governors have said they do not want to take in Syrian refugees. They technically do not have the power to stop the federal government from taking in anyone, but they could refuse to provide resources for anyone brought to those states.

The problem is that news reports from Paris have surfaced that show one of the terrorists was a Syrian refugee. This confirms the worst fears of many on the right side of American politics. It’s obvious to them that ISIS is using the willingness of countries to take in those who are fleeing the Syrian conflict to infiltrate and perform horrible acts of violence against the West, and any who oppose them.

On the left side of things, people are saying we should take more refugees in. They say that the US has never has a refugee commit an act of terror before. And the process is very thorough. Some even suggest that terrorists might be posing as Syrians to scare countries into not taking the refugees. Others say that not taking them in would be un-American.

I would feel better about the whole situation if there were a report saying that X number of refugees have been accepted, but we turned away Y number because of their ties with terrorist groups, etc. Then I would at least know the processes in place are working.

But that’s not what the media is saying. They are engaging in the classic “Either/or” fallacy. Left wing media say either we let everyone in or we are heartless, and right wing says we either keep everyone out, or we are complicit in the inevitable terrorist attack from the ISIS members we know are among the refugees. There is no middle ground for them. Because middle ground doesn’t generate clicks and eyeballs, it doesn’t generate ad revenue.

As with most things in life, a more balanced approach is needed. Christians are commanded to help people, to love them. Showing compassion to those in need is a Christian value. There are lots of verses that instruct us on caring for those in need, lots of reasons to do it.

Let’s use the analogy of your personal home. If 4 starving, freezing kids showed up on your doorstep, you would let them in. If a family of 4 showed up in the same condition, you would let them in. If 4 young men showed up, and you had reason to believe that there were a few young men intent on doing bad things in the area, you would think twice about letting them in.

It is your duty to help those you can. It is not necessarily your duty to place your family, or yourself in danger in order to help others. You can do that, and the Bible says there is no greater way to show your love for others than to lay down your life for them. But you do not have to give your life or the lives of your family in order to show compassion and love for others.  You wouldn’t knowingly open the door to a man who says he is going to kill your entire family.

Expand this to the size of community, and the same principles apply. We should give aid where we can to those we know are in need. But we should be vigilant to keep people safe, both the people we are helping and those in the community we are a part of. The same principle applies to countries.

We must render help when and where we can to those who are in genuine need. But we must be vigilant in protecting our own people and those who are fleeing violence, and seeking refuge.

Does that mean we only take families and children, the elderly and the needy, but we turn away single, young men? I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the vetting process for refugees, but I know it’s not done overnight. It takes a long time to make it through the process and into the country.

I do know that this isn’t some cut and dried issue, it’s not an either/or situation. We should do whatever we can to help people, and keep them (and us) safe. We must find a balance.

Media Dogpiles Carson Because of Politico Post Saying He Lied, Clinton’s Benghazi Lies Still Not a Big Deal.

I’ve said it before. Journalism is dead.

This morning Politico posted an article with a headline that said Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson “fabricated” a story about West Point. If you follow the link, that’s not what the headline says now. In fact the Daily Caller has it’s own story about how much Politico has backed off of their original story. The first line of the original post was, “Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted … that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated” and it has been deleted, headline changed.

If you read the Politico story all the way through you can see that their initial inflammatory headline was way overblown. In fact, this is making a mountain out of a molehill. Carson may have the exact dates wrong, but he did meet Westmoreland and discuss West Point. Carson, like me and many others, apparently didn’t know that everyone gets a full scholarship at West Point. I didn’t know that, I would have expected an editor of the book to catch that detail.

Regardless, in a media driven by views and ratings more than truth, news organizations were off to the races. CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, Newsweek, Fortune, USA Today and just about anyone else you can name all ran some form of the story. Carson’s campaign started crying foul, and the conservative news blogs started writing rebuttals. Fox is now running a headline that says the report by Politico has been called into question.

Now, I’m not sure Carson is our best candidate. He doesn’t seem to be the good at handling a media that wants to rip him and his candidacy apart. He’s said some strange stuff. (If reports are to be believed… he may not have tried to hit his mother with a hammer, or stabbed someone, or been robbed at gunpoint, and doesn’t know what the Pyramids are.) But this is just bad journalism. OK, Politico thought it had a story and blew it out of proportion. I could almost excuse that as over eager reporting on something they thought would be a huge story. (They should officially retract their initial claims instead of silently altering the story) But for every other major news organization to pile on without doing their own checking of the story? Come on.

This is just the latest in recent stories about Carson’s past life and statements. What did he do that made it open season on his past? He started leading the Republican polls and he criticized the media.

If the media were doing this to all of the candidates, Democrat as well as Republican, it would be easier to take. But no, this is the state of journalism in America:

In Benghazi hearing we see definitive proof that Hillary Clinton knew what she told the American people about the embassy attack was a lie.

Media: “Meh, why are the Republicans harassing her about this?”

Ben Carson leads some polls and said he was offered a scholarship to West Point, when in fact no one is ever offered a “scholarship” there because it’s free to attend if you can get in.

Media: “Carson’s a liar! Liar, liar, pants of fire!”

The double standard makes my head hurt.

Journalism is Dead, So Who Moderates GOP Presidential Debates?

Journalism used to be informing the public about what it needed to know. If you’ve ever seen the first couple of episodes of HBO’s “Newsroom” then you’ve seen a drama about the clash between modern “journalism” and real journalism. Now, that show went on to depict a heavy bias in it’s story line, but the conflict they portrayed in those first episodes was pretty accurate.

Journalism is dead. Instead, we have reporters and news sources that write to get page views and publish for ad revenue. I’m not naive enough to think that journalism used to not be about making money, but there doesn’t seem to be anything resembling journalistic integrity in the American news anymore. I’m sure there are notable exceptions, but, in general, news article and reports are slanted, left or right. Or toward whatever pet passion the author has.

Plus, many people think that an opinion piece, which might be written about the news, actually is the news. My blog is all opinion. Not news. I might report something, but I almost always cite an opinion about it.

Because we have almost no unbiased news sources to get the news from, we tend to find sources that match our own biases. I don’t go to CNN or CNBC, I go to Blaze or Fox or a conservative news source. We all succumb to something called “confirmation bias” where we search for, and interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions. I don’t want to read the bias of a news reporter I don’t agree with, so I tend to read those that are like me. And they tend to report news that affirms my view of things. Journalism, as we once knew it, is dead.

If journalism is dead, who should moderate the GOP Presidential debates?

The current election cycle has brought this issue to the forefront. It started with Fox and continued until this most recent debacle on CNBC. These debates, which should be about informing the public, have become focused on generating ratings and entertainment. And reporters are more interested in delivering a stinging opinion than asking pertinent questions about a candidates policies and politics.

Much has been (angrily- don’t click this link unless you are OK with rough language) written about this last CNBC debate. I will post just a couple of the questions from news reporters to the GOP Presidential candidates to illustrate this:

To Carly Fiorina, regarding reducing the tax code to three pages: “You want to bring 70,000 pages to three? Is that using really small type? Is that using really small type?”

 

To Donald Trump: “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”

Just two of the actual questions asked by reporters to Presidential candidates in this last debate. The tone of disrespect is just incredible.

So, obviously, Republicans are lviid. They have already pulled from a future NBC debate. And have begun talking about how they want to handle other debates. And the press has gotten it’s hackles up in defense. They claim it’s their job to ask hard questions.

And that’s true, but these were not hard questions, These questions would be more at home on a reality TV show than a debate platform.

So, what do we do?

The American people deserve to have hard, legitimate questions asked of candidates for the highest office in government. The current model isn’t working, and I don’t think we should have the campaigns run the debates either.

How can we hold a Presidential debate that would reflect a wider political bias?

-The Jury System– The major news networks still get to be a part of the debates and the associated ad revenue, but they don’t get to pick all of the moderators. Instead the GOP and the network get to propose 4-6 potential moderators each. And each gets 3 strikes. The network selects one, the GOP can accept or strike for any reason. (And the selection process is off the record.) The GOP selects one, and the network can accept of strike. The process continues until all 4 spots are filled. Both the GOP and network can strike moderators they dislike, but each gets at least one on the panel they like. The moderators select their own questions, and while they all know the questions in advance so they won’t double up, no other moderator can veto someone else’s question.

-The Youtube Debate- Youtube is a major online video platform. If anyone can handle the traffic, they can. The GOP works with Youtube (Or another platform). Major news networks can take a feed. By taking a feed, they are allowed to submit 2 questions that will be asked of each candidate. Americans are allowed to submit questions for the debate, and the GOP and Youtube pick from those questions. Youtube sells advertising, The networks agree to air a portion of Youtube’s ads, and then insert their own ads over the rest to cover their costs. GOP and Youtube split the cost of the venue. GOP and Youtube pick the actual moderators, who agree to ask the questions as submitted. Everyone can watch, either online or on TV. No one network can have influence over all the questions. The GOP doesn’t have say over all the questions.

Either of these models would result in a wider range of biases being represented in the questions. There would probably be some questionable questions, but that would be the exception, not the rule. It’s sad that we even have to worry about how to hold a fair debate, but at least when it comes to politics, journalism is dead.