Dear Governor Baker,
I completely understand your feeling with regard to not accepting refugees from Syria. You are worried that, among them, some terrible, dangerous element will creep in and cause harm to the good people of our state. I applaud your desire to protect us.
If you want to keep all possible threats out, you will have to do more. You will have to refuse all refugees, not just those from Syria. You will have to close our borders entirely — shut down Logan and put Troopers on checkpoints on every road, every day, from now until that distant day, generations from now, when all such threats are gone.
But that would be absurd. It would be an over-response to this situation.
I understand your feeling, because I share it. The feeling is fear — the feeling terrorists thrive on — the feeling they live for. They want nothing more than to create fear and chaos and disrupt our way of life.
Sadly, by refusing Syrian refugees, by making them unwelcome, but closing out our compassion, you are also making us less. These refugees are fleeing the very same monsters you want to keep out. I can’t think of any group more motivated not to have terrorists among them than the refugees fleeing those terrorists and their hate. The refugees could be a meaningful ally in rooting out the terrorist, rather than the danger you fear.
Finally, consider what it means if your fears are right. Among these few thousand refugees, what happens if one or five terrorists slip into our state. Is the potential harm these theoreticals might represent greater than the clear and concrete good done in rescuing those who have come here in their hour of need? Would you make the same choice to shut out tourists, when the very same danger exists among them?
I am sure you are inundated by similar requests as mine, to reconsider your stance on this issue — a stance I hear you have no legal authority to make. But that legal authority doesn’t matter. What matters is how you lead. What matters is the example you set. Back-tracking is hard, once you have put an idea out there, but continuing to head in the wrong direction is far worse.
Gregory Scott Katsoulis