As humans, we cannot turn our backs on the Syrian refugees

Hannah Freid, Editor-in-Chief


Who has not seen the picture of Alan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy found washed up on the shores of Turkey? We all have. We all have seen the pictures of too many people on a flimsy raft, bouncing through the turmoil and rough current of a sea between two worlds. They are not leaving by choice; they are leaving by necessity.

What we are witnessing now is a crisis that knows no countries, no politics, no laws. It is a human crisis—something that we, as humans, must face together. How can we turn our backs on an entire nation of people? What argument could possibly be made that suggests that these people do not deserve to be helped?

Of course, such arguments have been and will continue to be made. In the wake of the Paris attacks, many have justified not allowing these immigrants into our borders on the grounds of American safety. Others say that taking in, assimilating, and supporting such a large group of people will burden the U.S. and its resources.

I am not here to deny such reasoning or even consider the validity of the previous statements. The degree of truth behind these arguments does not change how people in the U.S., or in any country, should respond. When we see people in need, those more fortunate must help. Just because we were lucky enough to be born in a country that has not seen war on its soil for years does not mean we are exempt from helping those that were not.

We must follow the example of many European countries. Sweden, for example, has already taken in 80,000 refugees in the past two months. As a country of roughly 10 million people, this amounts to almost one percent of the population. Our country, of nearly 320 million people, is surely capable of taking in more than a fraction of the number of refugees that Sweden has.

This crisis has also caused me to reflect on the roots of our nation and its people. Only about two percent of Americans are native. This means that nearly the entire population was either immigrants themselves or has ancestors who were. It is with this sentiment that we must answer the call to help much stronger than we have. We, or our family members, have all at one point been in the place of these refugees—struggling, hoping for a better life, leaving all we have known with the faith that a new country could allow us the safety and freedom our homeland no longer could.

Obviously, I am no politician. I have no expertise in the mass migration of people. I am not even sure I understand the conflict in Syria and all of its complexities. But I am human, and when I see people in need, I know we must help. We cannot let the people of Syria and those fleeing from the turmoil of the Middle East perish as we selfishly look away.