We have experienced an especially rude and callous political world over the past couple of weeks–and given what we have witnessed over the past months that is saying a great deal. I strongly suspect the majority of my fellow citizens feel as I do each day when turning on the news or picking up the newspaper. We cringe just a little given all that has happened to our political culture and never can be sure how bizarre or mean-spirited the next news cycle might be.
Each day there continues to be a most harsh and uneducated attack made on both the Islamic faith and Syrian refugees who flee from wretched conditions in their homeland. We have watched the largest movement across Europe of struggling people from one place to another since WWII. We have listened to those interviewed, saw the plea for help on their faces, and even witnessed the small child who had drowned as his family made their way to some place that did not include barrel bombs falling from the sky. There is no one who in truth can not be impacted by these people and their needs.
While many hands around the world have reached out to help the refugees we also have come to see still others from the Republican Party who think there are votes to be garnered from being xenophobic and willfully spiteful. Simply put, what has passed for political dialogue about refugees among conservatives has been embarrassing. The words I have heard and read from them are not the way I live or think and know those in this city feel the same.
That is the reason the news about the Syrian refugee resolution the Madison City Council will vote on this week is so important not just to me, but to all of us collectively. I know most people in this city and state are decent people; filled with the values our grandparents would be proud to know we still wish to live by. What we have heard and read from the lowest common denominators in the land are reflective, I readily admit, of a certain segment of the populace. But as Abraham Lincoln said we must play to the better angels of our nature. And that is what the city council will do on Tuesday when passing this resolution.
WHEREAS, the United States has a long history of offering refuge to those fleeing from persecution; and
WHEREAS, the City of Madison asserts that all refugees and immigrants should be treated with dignity, care and respect; and
WHEREAS, several million Syrians have been displaced by that country’s ongoing civil war, causing a humanitarian crisis; and
WHEREAS, in the midst of this human tragedy, we have the opportunity to choose compassion over fear, hate and divisiveness; and
WHEREAS, current and past generations of immigrants and refugees have helped build Madison and make it the great city that it is, bringing economic development, vibrancy and cultural diversity; and
WHEREAS, the City of Madison reaffirms its status as a “Welcoming City” for immigrants and newcomers from all over the world, as established by RES-14-00232, adopted in April 2014;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Madison supports accepting and welcoming Syrian refugees into our community.
We all understand this action alone will not change the national tone that has too often been repugnant when it comes to these refugees. But I can say this resolution meets with my sentiments exactly. I am most pleased that the city council is making a point to add their voice—our collective voice—to this most important matter of common decency and shared humanity.
My sincere thanks to the council.