But it is how many of us have responded to this news that truly sickens me. When people I respect – family and friends – started saying that President Obama should deny Syrian refugees shelter in our country, I told myself it was out of love. These people fear the unknown and fear harm will come to their families, so they are forgetting how important it is to open our doors in times like this. They are scared, but well-intentioned.
But Governor McCrory? I don’t have an excuse for him.
On the Monday after the Paris attacks, he asked the federal government to stop sending refugees to North Carolina because not enough was known about them. If the federal government were more transparent in their efforts, he said, he would feel more comfortable accepting refugees. He mentions that he was told little about the 59 refugees who have been resettled in our state over the past year. Yet refugees go through a thorough screening process, one that has two extra steps for Syrians. Also, in response to requests for more information, the White House held a conference call with 34 governors, one that McCrory did not attend.
Furthermore, it sickens me that he is using this divisive issue to gain popularity and approval ratings for the 2016 gubernatorial elections. WRAL reported that McCrory had a page on his website with a dark graphic saying “NO SYRIAN REFUGEES IN NC” and the page read, “In this difficult time, we must think first of our own security and do what’s right to protect North Carolina families” and had a large red contribute button. Not only is he trying to deny refugees, mostly mothers and children, a place free from war crimes and terrorism, he is also exploiting his citizens fears for his own gain.
While he can stand wherever he wants on the issue, I question the amount of time he is spending on Fox and Friends, Fresh Air, and The Diane Rehm Show discussing it, when he doesn’t have the power to bar refugees from our state. He should, of course, tell constituents where he stands, but then he should move on to items he can control to make his state better.
When we give thanks this week, let’s remember those who want to be with their families, in a safe place, with food to eat, and clean water to drink. Let’s remember love and not let it turn to fear, but faith. Let’s show McCrory that his state, our state, should be a beacon of southern hospitality.
Jennifer Brick is a writer and teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.