On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, the nation of Russia began airstrikes in Syria, the war torn nation that has been the subject of many debates in both the United States and the world. While airstrikes in the Middle East are nothing new, the target of these airstrikes raises considerable concern. Russia did not bomb a city known for housing ISIS militants or the puppets of president Bashar al-Assad, they bombed the city of Homs, a city known to house rebels against the corrupt and brutal government. The United States is particularly concerned because Russia gave us little warning of the imminent airstrike -- Russian officials relayed the news to the US embassy only one hour before the attack.
My concern does not lie with the fate of Syria, but rather with the fate of its people. As many of you may know, Syrian refugees have been fleeing the country in a desperate attempt to find shelter, security, and freedom. Boats full of refugees have taken the Mediterranean by storm, aimed at the Greek islands, Italy, and even southern France. Even more disturbing is the utter lack of compassion that neighboring countries are exhibiting, namely Hungary. Recently, footage has surfaced of a Hungarian camerawoman, Petra Laszlo, tripping and kicking refugees as they flee from immigration police. Laszlo worked for a nationalist news channel in Hungary, one that frequently runs stories that brand the refugees as parasites that will damage the economy and steal jobs.
As the presidential race continues here, many candidates are being asked about their position on the refugee crisis. Recently, Republican candidate Donald Trump was quoted as saying “if I win, [the refugees] are going back.” As an American myself, I cannot help but feel extremely disturbed that a man who is running for the most powerful position in the American government is neglecting our nation’s moral responsibility. This is not a matter of economic assets, these people are just that, people. They are innocent, scared citizens of a nation where the government tests chemical weapons on its own people and kills the children of rebels. Any developed nation should do all it can to take in these refugees and take action against the government that has perpetrated such a disaster.
In 1903, the poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The final lines read “Give me...the wretched refuse of your teeming shore / send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” We, as the United States of America, must act as this, a beacon of hope for those who are lost in the night, an island in a sea of uncertainty and fear. This issue transcends national borders and becomes a question of human morality; we must not sit idly by while people are being denied the right to live.