For Immediate Release: November 18, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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“These refugees are us. We are them.”
The Center for Inquiry, a secular humanist organization that promotes science, reason, and free expression, unequivocally condemns the bigotry and discrimination against Muslims currently being espoused by U.S. political figures, media personalities, and presidential candidates.
After the tragedy in Paris, religion and the refugee crisis have been pushed to the forefront of public debate. In Europe, more than a few politicians are demanding borders be closed to refugees entirely, and some officials and observers are trafficking in anti-immigrant rhetoric rarely heard since the 1930s. In the United States, a number of pundits, politicians, and presidential candidates have stooped to fear-mongering, decrying the proposed resettlement of more refugees from Syria and the greater Middle East as a security threat. Some have even made explicit what others have implied: Muslim refugees should be barred entirely, and only Christians allowed in.
It is not sufficient to point to the impossibility of such religious discrimination on practical grounds, or the gift it would present to extremists and their propagandizing. It is not sufficient to point to the hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants woven safely into the citizenry of the United States from around the world, including refugees from war-torn Bosnia in the 1990s and elsewhere after September 11, 2001. It’s also not sufficient to point out that a religious test for immigration would flagrantly violate the Constitution.
As secular humanists, it is incumbent on us to say that this sort of religious bigotry toward the most desperate of our fellow human beings is plainly vile. As President Obama has said, “slamming the door” in the face of these refugees, who are fleeing incomprehensible violence and destruction, would be unconscionable. To tar all Muslims with the crimes of Daesh and other extremists—crimes Muslims have suffered and fought against more than any other group—is abhorrent. Such religious discrimination would be a pernicious, cowardly betrayal of both the secular principles of the United States, and the humanist values we at the Center for Inquiry fight to uphold, both in the United States and worldwide. To quote President Obama once more, “We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Friday night in Paris, in the Place de la République, a hand-written banner was strung across the statue of Marianne, purposefully ungrammatical:
“J’être humain”—I (am a) human being.
Along side, a smaller cardboard sign:
“Nous avons pas peur”—We have no fear.
In that spirit, as secular humanists we insist: These refugees are us, and we are them, whatever their religion might be. Bigotry, hatred, fear-mongering, and discrimination have no place between us, and they should have no place between these refugees and a safer life.