What Will We Do with the Huddled Masses?

I looked up the text of the Executive Order banning refugees from Syria indefinitely, and others for specified periods of time. It is titled "Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States of America." It is a rather long document, with many references to various laws and regulations. Not all the details are spelled out in the document itself--one has to read the outside materials for a clearer understanding of the order.


Among other things the order bans entry into the United States for all refugees from Syria indefinitely; all refugees in general for 120 days, and all persons from seven predominantly Muslim countries (designated elsewhere as "countries of concern") including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Somalia for 90 days.

Perhaps if this order was issued free of earlier statements that we need to keep out all Muslims, it could be viewed as a security measure, plain and simple. But that is not the case. The larger context includes an increasingly virulent stream of language aimed at undermining the integrity of Islam and the humanity of Muslims. Such language, and such actions, only add to the explosive atmosphere that resulted in the mass shooting this past weekend at a mosque in Quebec.

There is little question that terrorism is a real issue in 2017. But to blame Muslims in general, and Muslim refugees in particular (who are after all those who are most often the victims of terrorism), for terrorism itself, is misguided. It is more than misguided. It is un-American. This is a land of immigrants--all kinds of immigrants and refugees.

Maybe what we need to do for the next four months (or longer if necessary) is dismantle the Statue of Liberty--or at least cover over the words on the bronze plaque mounted inside the base which has those memorable words written by Ezra Lazarus about tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. They're still yearning, but it looks like they'll just have to wait.


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