Security and Values — Disrupting America

The Balance Between Safety and Values

Tom Landquist Donald Trump, National Security 8 Comments

Donald Trump said that he will seek to “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.”

The war occuring in Syria is hellish. It is awful and it leaves a trail of refugees in its wake. There are concerns that have been echoed repeatedly about possible ISIS operatives entering the US under the cover of refugee status.

This threat has been downplayed. The 18-month screening process for refugees brought into the country is indeed thorough, but the threat does exist.

There’s a thorough vetting process refugees must go through to join us here in the United Sates. 18-months of screening and its own kind of hell. But it’s worth it to those who make it through because they are alive and they are safe.

In practice, however, anything less than perfection will leave human victims and loved ones searching for answers. Families upset with the loss they have endured. Families angry at the government and demanding justice. A high success rate won’t mean much to that family, and percentage points don’t do much to ease public anxiety when families are crying on camera.

Like Dr. Cox from bones stated ever so poignantly:

“Statistics mean nothing to the individual.”

And if you happen to know the individual, if you are the indidivual affected, you’re not going to care much for the governments offer that it’s doing its best. To you, that kind of “best” just isn’t good enough. And you’d be right.

So Why Should We Accept Any Refugees?

This comes down to who we are as a country and what values we espouse. The words on one of our country’s most recognizable symbols, the Statue of Liberty, states the following.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

For decades we have taken pride in reaching out and helping those in need. We have taken refugees from wars all around the globe, saved countless lives, and through that opportunity, many of those immigrants and their descendants changed the way we live our daily lives with their innovations.

For example, Steve Jobs, the man who changed the way we do mobile computing. His dad was a Syrian immigrant. Albert Einstein? He was also an immigrant. The list goes on without end.

We have been an example of decency and morality in the world, despite the glaring flaws we have shown along the way. We have been the country setting the tone for the entire human species, and our influence has ripple effects worldwide. That has to mean something. Our values have to matter.

Is It Worth the Risk to Uphold These Values?

Not if you’re the individual. Or maybe it is worth the risk to the individual still?

This is a personal decision. The consequences, if the nightmare scenario was to happen to you or your loved ones, are severe.

I understand the fear, the concerns and have seen firsthand the consequences of an extremist ideology in action. This topic required some soul searching, but I landed at an unavoidable personal decision.

I believed in the values espoused by our country to the rest of the world, and I was ready to earn our reputation… even if it created pain that personally affected me. We claim to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. Bravery requires something that scares you, pushes you beyond your comfort zone and makes you stand up for a person or purpose that has meaning to you. I believe our values are important, and they are worth putting on a brave face and standing up for.

What Will Happen?

With a President Trump in charge of the country, it seems we will be making the decision to err on the side of caution instead of accepting the risk.

The ripple effects of America’s stance will be felt beyond the safety of our shores. The American people will likely be safer in the short term, but our standing in the world will likely degrade as a result. The constant concern of what the world thinks, at the exclusion of what’s best for America, however, is part of what caused this revolution to begin with. So we are back at square one.

It is time for America to have an open bipartisan dialogue about who we are, and what our shared values and concerns may be. America is and will continue to be an example to the world. But we are at a point where defining exactly what that means is more important than ever before.

Let’s start the discussion here. Please share this with your friends on Facebook and let’s get our voices heard.

Comments 8

  1. Mr Ray.. your message and the questions you raised brought tears to my eyes.. I love America and what it stands for. I love the statue of Liberty and those most beautiful words upon her. They are more than words, the are the heart and pulse of our country…a beacon to all who are lost, tortured, betrayed by their homelands and their countrymen. I believe we must honor those words.. words our country was built upon.. in reality we are all immigrants, that at some point either thru are own efforts or those of our parents or thru their parents or our parents, parents.. came to this country as immigrants.. fleeing persecution, oppression, abuse, tyranny, discrimination either because of our race, or our political views or our religious beliefs. We sought a sanctuary, where we could prosper and provide for our families and where we could be free to live our lives without threat or abuse. lives of integrity and of value to our countrymen. We came seeking freedom and with the desire to work hard and see the beauty of what we could accomplish given the space to use our various abilities and gifts for the good of all. America must remain, if it is to survive, true to those beautiful words. Many have sacrificed their lives to keep America free. We should not disgrace their sacrifice nor their bravery by becoming less than the shining example of what America was destined to be.

    1. Thank you for your honest and touching response. This country means a great deal to me. It’s been an example to the world of the decency and altruism we can attain if we set our minds to it. I am proud of the history we have, and proud of the people who have come to call America their home. I hope that we continue to embody the traits which have defined us for so many years.

  2. Well written, not sure how extreme vetting is going to be much different but if it works I’m good with it. As far as our standing how do you feel this will harm it?

    1. Great question Dan, and it’s one that has a more subjective answer than a concrete one to be fair. We have been the moral leaders of the worlds dominant powers for decades. With that moral authority, we have been able to influence changes by holding countries to the same or similar standards. This has improved the world as a whole, and at the same time has improved the way we are viewed in the world, our intentions are trusted, our ideals respected, and that translates into a solid footing as an economic, military, and moral force that is worth following. If we start allowing policies that degrade the values we have openly promoted around the world, it will hurt our standing as moral leaders. When that happens, we lose our credibility and also our ability to influence others to follow our lead. This issue may not by itself cause this to happen, but it will be a clear step towards that end result.

  3. For me it’s a simple decision. However I’m young, trained, armed, and spend a lot of my time in public in at least a “yellow” frame of mind, unlike most people.

    With all this factored in, and the rural area I live in, becoming a casualty of an attack resulting in an unvetted refugee is next to nil. However I do have to think of those who don’t think like I do and take their safety into consideration.

    But now to the heart of my decision. Have you ever seen a kitten out in the rain on a dirty street corner, alone and left to die? Scenarios like that are why I have two cats despite not liking them much in the first place. It’s easy not to adopt one if you don’t have to stare it in the face and seal its fate by leaving it. I’ve seen that in humans too. Broken souls waiting their turn to die in festering hell holes. If I could have brought them back to America, fed, clothed, and given them jobs I would have done so at great cost to myself.

    Why? Because the small tatters of morality I have left would demand it, my upbringing would have demanded it, my -God- would have demanded it. So I ask you the reader of you would place yourself in some small, minor risk to help the helpless, or if you would walk on by hoping not to make eye contact with those you don’t care to save.

    1. This response would invoke and emotional response from anyone with some decency left in them, regardless of their position. Thank you for sharing your experiences, they parallel my own. It is easy in the abstract to choose safety, but much harder to make that same decision when you see the lives that will be affected by that decision. The world is a dark and brutal place at times, and we have always been a guiding light, or at least attempted to be. I hope we find it in us to continue that tradition.

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