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Oh, the irony! 

It is ironic that on the very day the New Times published Matt Kokkonen’s recommendation to prohibit all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. (“Stay home, refugees,” Dec. 10), Canada warmly welcomed 2,500 refugees as the first part of 25,000 who will enter that country by March 2016. This can be taken as a small rebuke, not only to Mr. Kokkonen, but also to the senseless xenophobia we have heard from a large number of Republican governors after the Paris attacks. And despite Mr. Kokkonen’s protestations, the xenophobia is indeed “senseless.” Just look at the data. 

We are thousands of times more likely to die in an airplane or car crash than we are to die of a terrorist attack in the U.S.A. Shall we shut down all airports and prohibit car driving in order to prevent these deaths? We are also far more likely to be killed by an accidentally discharged firearm or by an act of domestic gun violence than we are to be killed in a terrorist incident involving a foreigner. I don’t hear Mr. Kokkonen calling for a ban on guns in order to prevent the “senseless” daily killing of Americans by other Americans. My point is that the chance that a member of a recently admitted Syrian family will harm one of us is about as remote as a member of a recently admitted Finnish family doing this.

We need to do a moral, not a mathematical, calculus in deciding whether we should emulate the generosity of our Canadian neighbors. The Syrians wanting to come here have been driven from their homes, beaten, tortured, gassed, and raped. Half of all Syrians have been displaced by the war (250,000 have died). The famous words on our Statue of Liberty say “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” If there is ever a time for Americans to live up to our ideals, then this is it. We must keep our humanitarian promise to the “huddled masses” from Syria and admit to our country a fair share of these desperate people. 

-- Laurence Houlgate - Paso Robles

-- Laurence Houlgate - Paso Robles

-- Laurence Houlgate - Paso Robles

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