The Olympic swimmer for the refugee team, Yusra Mardini, saved the lives of twenty people by pushing a sinking boat for three hours back onto shore off the Aegean Sea. Her story has circulated worldwide. Why have so few American media outlets mentioned the fact that Yusra is a Syrian Christian, who was forced to flee her country when it was no longer safe for her as a Christian to be there? Maybe it is the same reason the Obama administration determined that Christians would be sent to the back of the que for America’s refugee program, only importing Syrian Muslims. It upsets the administration’s narrative that only Muslims are victims. It brings to light that it is the Syrian government trying to protect Christians, and Obamas rebel allies are the ones killing them. In America and at the Olympics, there is no room for inconvenient facts, like recognizing the Syrian Christian heritage, and the persecution they face for it. Read a UK article that mentions Yusra’s heritage.
At the end of World War II, the Jewish survivors of Europe’s Holocaust found that nearly every door was closed to them. “Tell Me Where Can I Go?” was a popular Yiddish song at the time. Decades later, the Christians of the Middle East face the same problem, and the Obama administration is keeping the door shut.
America is about to accept 9000 Syrian Muslims, refugees of the brutal war between the Assad regime and its Sunni opposition, which includes ISIS, Al Qaeda, and various other militias. That number is predicted to increase each year. There are no Christian refugees that will be admitted.
Why? Because the Department of State is adhering with all the rigidity of a Soviet era bureaucracy to the rule that only people at risk from massacres launched by the regime qualify for refugee status. The rapes of Christian women and the butchery of Christian children do not count. No matter how moved Americans were this Christmas season by the plight of their fellow Christ followers in Syria and Iraq, no matter how horrific the visuals of beheadings, enslavement, and mass murder, the Christians fleeing death do not engender the compassion of this president.
The Christians are being raped, tortured, and murdered by militias, not by the Syrian government. This technicality condemns them to continue to be victims without hope. And this technicality is being adhered to with all the tenacity with which President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s State Department manipulated quotas and created subterfuges to keep out the Jews fleeing the oppression of Nazi Germany. Obama no more wants the Middle East’s Christian refugees than Roosevelt wanted Europe’s Jewish refugees.
We have seen in the last several weeks that President Obama has no difficulty using his “phone and his pen,” as he dramatically boasts, to circumvent the law. When it comes to immigration, he had no difficulty enacting an amnesty that a federal judge subsequently ruled unconstitutional. He has had no problem circumventing Congress to change the relationship with Cuba. This president has shown that he will push back on the constraints of law when he wants to get something done.
But there are not even such constraints when it comes to the Middle East’s Christians fleeing the brutality of ISIS and Al Qaeda. The Department of State chooses to adhere to a definition of refugees as people persecuted by their own government. What difference does it make which army imperils the lives of innocent Christians? Christians are still be slaughtered for being Christian, and their government is incapable of protecting them. Does some group have to come along—as Jewish groups did during the Holocaust—and sardonically guarantee that these are real human beings?
The Christians would barely have to be vetted for ties to terror organizations, which by their very nature do not take Christians. Meanwhile, there is the uncomfortable issue that among the Sunni refugees there are some in league with the Sunni terror militias. And beyond that there is the equally uncomfortable question of the acculturation of segments of the Muslim community.
That our Muslim neighbors are as worthy of being good Americans as anyone else is not an issue. That a highly active and prominent minority in the Muslim community seeks to transform America is an issue and one that cannot be overlooked, when taking in Muslim refugees. Will they be vetted for seeking the transformation of America through jihad?
Whether the recent violence in Australia, the murder of two New York policemen, the Boston Marathon bombings, the growing list of victims of honor killings in Western societies, the forced closing of streets in Paris for Muslim prayers, the Muslim no-go and Sharia patrol areas of Britain, the rape of infidel women in Sweden, or the call by Council on Islamic American Relations that Islam is not in America to be another religion but to transform America, there is a Muslim problem. That it is not a problem precipitated by a majority of Muslims does not lessen its dangers.
No doubt the majority of the Muslim refugees will become good American citizens, but the real concern is that a significant minority will not. Yet, the Middle East Christians, even as a minority, do not pose remotely the same kind of threat.
With Christmas fresh in our minds, it is time for all people of good will to say to the Obama administration that telling Christians awaiting death that there is no room for them in the inn is not only unacceptable, it is also, to use President Obama’s own words, “not who we are.” This season, Christians need to make their voice heard. They should not act as the Jews did, waiting for a president who had no intention of doing anything, to do something.
Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.