Letter: US history shows lack of compassion

In response to your Sept. 24 editorial, America isn’t compassionate. Except for brief lapses (“Give me your huddled masses, yearning to be free”), our compassion includes turning away Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany, refusing entry to Chinese, Haitians, Cubans, Mexicans, Irish and Catholic refugees, and conducting genocide on native populations.

We are a xenophobic society that creates scapegoats to avoid being compassionate. Today’s scapegoats are Muslims, yesterday it was blacks, before that Mexicans, Communists, Japanese, Jews, Chinese, Irish Catholics, the list goes on and on, back to colonial jeremiads against heathen savages. These scapegoats allow us to blame others for our own shortcomings.

One in five children in this country lives in poverty because we lack the compassion to help our own poor. We have the second-largest prison population in the world (the largest in terms of percentage of population) because we lack the compassion to rehabilitate offenders or help the mentally ill. We have one of the world’s worst healthcare systems and we have a predilection to gun violence. We are not compassionate. But we’ll blame it all on Muslims, although Donald Trump would prefer blaming Mexicans as well.

Kindness? We give $4 billion in aid to Syrian refugees after spending $3 trillion destabilizing the region and encouraging a civil war in Syria. Turkey has spent $7.6 billion aiding the refugees. We toss pocket change to refugees to assuage our guilt.

It is not delusional, suicidal or self-destructive to allow refugees in. If we deny them entry because of the theoretical potential that “If just one terrorist or terror-sympathizer gets through, Americans will die,” then by the same logic we should deport all white American male gun owners based upon the actions of Timothy McVeigh, Dylan Roof, Jared Loughner and Eric Rudolph. Bringing refugees here means allowing into this country skilled people eager for work, with intimate knowledge of the dangers inherent in religious extremism. That is why Germany is letting them in — they need good workers.

Writing that refugees need go no further than Greece, Macedonia, Serbia or Turkey is, however, delusional. Turkey has already accepted 1.9 million refugees and has reached capacity. The other countries you list will not allow the refugees to stay, only transit.

Craig Wilson