Centuries ago, my ancestors left the Palatinate in what is now Germany following the upheavals of the Thirty Years’ War to settle in America and to escape religious persecution. The thirst for religious freedom is in my blood. The desire for liberty is written in the very fiber of my being. I also believe we should have a more open immigration policy. I think if people want to come to America in search of freedom, a job, and security for their families that we should welcome them and do all we can to ensure they are able to support themselves and become productive members of our society, just as my own ancestors did. It is precisely for these reasons that I oppose granting political asylum to refugees from the Syrian civil war.
My great wish would be for America to have completely unrestricted borders, open to all, just as it was in the time my forebears arrived here. However, the unfortunate truth is that this is also the goal of ISIS. They seek to impose a global caliphate that will conquer all and render borders obsolete. Unless we commit to completely defeating ISIS, they will use our open borders against us. They will continue to kill and destroy indiscriminately because they do not even care about killing other Muslims. Rather, they view the majority of Muslims as apostates–especially those who flee from their self-proclaimed caliphate.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims strongly disagree with the tactics employed by ISIS. Indeed, as much as ISIS has terrorized the Christian community in Syria and Iraq, they have slaughtered far more Muslims than Christians who have been unwilling to submit to their rule. Mohammed and his successors spread the message of Islam–submission–with the sword. This is a historical fact, and ISIS seeks to carry on that legacy today. If we want to protect the vast majority Muslims from ISIS, the best place to do it is by defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq, not by importing bad apples into this country that will spoil our precious liberties for everyone else.
The conflict in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere is more than just a sectarian religious struggle. It is also the continuation of a clash of civilizations which predates the time of Mohammed. Even so, I believe that Christians and Muslims can live in peace. I believe that America is a pluralistic society which should be open to all who desire liberty. All immigrants should be eager to learn our customs, to abide by our laws, and to treasure the sacred freedoms embodied in our Constitution. If refugees seek these things, they should be welcomed, but if refugees seek to impose their ancient grievances and enmities upon our fertile shores, they must be turned away. Granting instant permanent residency to tens of thousands of asylum-seekers without those preconditions eliminates the incentive for responsible citizenship.
Our leaders seem oblivious to these realities, so we must instead prepare for what will be a long war. In particular, it deeply saddens me that religious freedom for both Muslims and Christians will undoubtedly suffer the longer this war goes on. It also deeply saddens me that as we respond to the inevitable terrorist attacks which are to come, our openness and love of liberty as Americans will be diminished by more surveillance, more security barriers, and more distrust. If we do not act swiftly and decisively to eliminate ISIS, both Muslims and Christians will lose. To invert a sardonic turn of phrase often attributed to the witty statesman Henry Kissinger, “It’s a pity we both can’t win.”
The views expressed are of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the policy of CatholicVote.org