Soapbox

It would be immoral to turn away refugees

Omran Wawieh, 11, left, and Maram, 8, play Tuesday in the courtyard of a Pomona motel, where they are staying after arriving from Syria.
Omran Wawieh, 11, left, and Maram, 8, play Tuesday in the courtyard of a Pomona motel, where they are staying after arriving from Syria. Los Angeles Times

As a Vietnamese-American educator who was a refugee from the Vietnam War, I find it shameful to see that more than 30 governors have said “no” to Syrian refugees.

What happened in Paris is an unspeakable and horrific terrorist act. As Americans, we showed our sympathy to the victims, their families and the French people. Yet we didn’t do the same for other victims in war-torn countries in the Middle East.

The bombings in Syria by the French military and the harsh rhetoric from GOP presidential hopefuls about Islam are politicized and reactive.

As President Barack Obama pointed out, shutting the door on Syrian refugees is wrong and against American values. Those values we are fighting to protect against the Islamic State are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different from us.

Like Obama, I believe that what separate us from terrorists is compassion, freedom, mercy and democracy.

The victims of war who are now refugees are still facing an escalating campaign of violence, repression and religious intolerance carried out by the Islamic State against innocent people, Christians and Muslims alike.

As a state and a country, we need to do more to rescue and accept the refugees. It is our moral obligation and ethical responsibility. Many will be killed if they return.

I urge Gov. Jerry Brown not to let the actions of other governors affect our outlook as a state. As a Buddhist, I learned that only compassion conquers hatred. I look forward to learning about whatever the governor can do in this urgent matter to bring hope, compassion and freedom to these unfortunate refugees.

Phe Bach is a science teacher at Mira Loma High School in Sacramento. He can be contacted at phexbach@gmail.com.

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