Given the sheer volume of Syrian refugees, and those from other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, who are seeking refuge and to establish a peaceful life for their families, we cannot wait for political solutions. Many of our own forebears had come to our shores, similarly seeking refuge from: religious intolerance; the potato famine; civil war in their homelands; invasions by regional dictators; and the list goes on and on. So, why are the refugees from the MENA Region different?
Many in the Republican Camp have been castigating President Barack Obama about literally everything under the sun, including his Middle East policy. They disavow any recollection of his predecessor, George W. Bush, invading the Region, and even agreeing to initiate the draw-down, beginning in 2011. But, as usual, they cast Obama as the bad guy, and as being incompetent. When they are asked to outline their plans to do things differently, however, all they can do is provide diatribes against the President; but, they all avoid offering anything specifically that they would do to handle things differently.
So now. they are making the refugees the pawns in their political agenda. Remember, by the way, that this is taking place during the build-up to a 2016 Presidential Election Year. I wonder if this is part of their plan—replacing the targeted attacks against Mexican Immigrants with heartless ones against refugees from the MENA Region. The Republican hate-filled attacks would certainly bring a smile, however, to the face of long-gone Commie-hunter, Senator Joe McCarthy. He attacked every political enemy as being a Communist infiltrator.
Back to the refugees, who are streaming into Europe as I write this, through harsh land routes and even more treacherous seas. Surely, we’ve all seen the photos of families huddled in the rain, being beaten by guards and photographers, and the three-year old boy’s body washed up along the shore. This is not a time, however, for pity. This is a time for open arms, feeding and sheltering these “tired and huddled masses”, just like someone once welcomed our ancestors.
No one is suggesting that we bus this newest generation of refugees to our shores by bussing them to Times Square, Harvard Yard or South Beach! Over the past decade, or so, the U. S. has carried-out the BRAC (base closure and realignment commission) Program, which closed or combined military bases, leaving the excess of redundant or unnecessary facilities vacant.
We should selectively re-open some of those bases, which could provide all of the necessary facilities to house the refugees, and with all due security. Dining, health care, training, recreational facilities can easily be re-opened, and even a small section of a Post Exchange, to provide basic necessities. Much of the on-going labor could be provided by the refugees themselves: basic labor around the camp; kitchen and dining room chores and establish a day care center. Training could provide basic English language and job skills, such as: carpentry; plumbing; cooking; doctor’s/nurse’s helper and midwife; etc. Such skills could enable the refugees to assist in providing their own necessities of life, as well as the ability to function, if and when they are released.
The use of these bases would solve two problems: provide shelter for some of the refugees showing-up on the shores of Southern Europe and the mountainous borders of Northern Europe, while providing the necessary security to segregate the refugees from the basic populace until they are sufficiently vetted for release. Now is the time for rational creativity, rather than polemic and political ideology. Timing is urgent as the refugee population continues to grow day-by-day!
Over the past several GOP Presidential Debates, we have been hearing about American Exceptionalism and that we must be the World Leaders. So, how exceptional would it be for America to remove Lady Liberty from her home in New York Harbor, douse the flame that she has proudly held high for more than one hundred years, and send her back to France? Is that what America is all about? Really?