Aurora would succeed with taking in Syrian refugees, just like we’ve succeeded including other refugees and immigrants from around the world.
Even the casual news observer can’t help but notice that the civil war in Syria is a calamity. Despite numerous attempts at cease fires in large and populous cities, hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of being killed or maimed in the fighting. Just as many or more are victims of failed civilization. No food. No water. No sewers. No medical care, and for more Syrians, no way out. Fever pitch cries for humanitarian relief have gone unheeded because the war has been made endlessly complicated by intervention by the United States, Russia and other interests. A physician in Aleppo this week said dozens of children are killed and maimed each day in that war-ravaged city. No one can turn it off at this point.
If the world can’t find a way to end this extravagantly destructive war, we must at least find a way to care for its victims.
The very notion has caused waves of revulsion across the country and has become fodder for the presidential election. Republicans have, generally, pushed back against the United States accepting these refugees. Democrats have pushed to be increasingly accommodating, especially in light of Europe’s problems with trying to assimilate millions of starving, homeless people. The United Nations says that about 14 million Syrians need immediate assistance.
The country should look to Aurora for how a community can assimilate a virtually endless variety of cultures, races, religions, languages and backgrounds, and create a single place that’s better for it.
Aurora is one of the first large cities in the U.S. to become minority white. The 2010 Census data showed that only 47 percent of the city selected their racial make-up as white, a number that city officials say has likely grown even smaller.
Public schools struggle with so many cultures and over 100 languages, but it’s clear that so much diversity among students and families determined to succeed, build an overall richer, stronger community.
Where racism and religious intolerance seems to increasingly boil over across the country, in Aurora, new languages, cultures, foods, shops and customs are welcomed and incorporated into the go-along, get-along mix.
Aurora, too, has had a handful of high-profile cases where police have either shot or acted questionably about handling black residents. But here, the entire community called for and ensured there was calm, while protesting events and scrutinizing police operations. There are several stores where Pakistanis shop peacefully and gratefully with Indians, Jews mingle with Muslims, Mexicans with Koreans.
Ours is a community based on tolerance and openness. It’s far from perfect, but in Aurora, it’s the norm to see black and white children as colorblind chums on the playground or walking home from school. A young girl in a burka ringing up your groceries at the store isn’t newsworthy or remarkable here. The notion that all Muslims present a terrorist threat or that all white people are bigots or that all blacks are poor or uneducated or that all Latinos are connected to illegal immigration is preposterous. It’s inane because we truly live among each other and see for ourselves the ridiculousness of such generalities.
And as to fear of immigrants and refugees, this is a city that suffered and weathered one of the most horrific massacres in U.S. history during the Aurora theater shooting — at the hands of a wealthy, white American man raised in California. We live in a world filled with threats and danger, but history has shown us time and again the greatest threat to all of us comes from within, not from abroad.
So send the Syrians here. Let them join the ranks of new Americans who work hard to succeed in school, in business, in government, in the community, taking from all of us when they need it, and giving back when they can.
It’s working for us.