A Discrepancy of Reasoning: Conflicting Political Ideologies Applied to Syrian Refugee Debate

Debates about Syrian Refugees and Gun Control in America Demonstrate How Republicans & Democrats Apply Conflicting Reasoning to Political Issues


Photo via National Geographic

Also published on the Daily Kos.

The Domestic Threat of ISIS Operatives:

Knowing ISIS operatives are sneaking into European countries with groups of Syrian refugees – and that ISIS has announced their intention to conduct major terrorist attacks on domestic targets including Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC – it stands to reason that the chance of a successful attack on American soil will be (ever so slightly) increased by bringing Syrian refugees into the country. If ISIS operatives pass U.S. Department of Homeland Security background checks with false documents, we will have increased the risk of successful extremist terrorist plots in America by opening our doors to Syrian refugees.

Of course, nearly all of the Syrian refugees to whom we would offer asylum are escaping horrific conditions, in dire need of shelter, and present absolutely no threat to any American citizen. It would be the tiniest percentage of refugees allowed into the country who would pose any danger.

The Threat of Domestic Terrorism:

On the flip-side, domestic terrorism continues to be a major concern in America. Opinions about the remedy for this have created a heated political debate surrounding whether enacting gun control measures would effectively reduce domestic terrorism. Those who advocate for gun control as a means to stop mass shootings by American citizens argue that any step to ensure public safety by limiting access to guns is a step in the right direction, and they actively seek legal measures to ensure safety by reducing the risk of domestic terrorism by reducing access to guns.

Of course, nearly all gun owners in the U.S. are responsible, law-abiding citizens who would never harm anyone other than in self-defense.

The Discrepancy:

We can all agree that the vast majority of both groups (Syrian refugees and U.S. gun owners) pose no threat to American citizens – and that there will be “bad guys” who slip through the cracks in both cases. The debate about each issue is based on the manner in which Americans think we should approach the threat. Ideology generally falls along party lines regarding both gun control and asylum for Syrian refugees, but both political parties’ reasoning behind the first issue conflicts with the reasoning it applies to the other.

Supporters of enacting gun control legislation (mostly Democrats) rely on the same argument as those who oppose offering asylum to refugees (mostly Republicans): enact whatever restrictions it takes to lower the risk of terrorism and/or large-scale attacks on innocent Americans.

Conversely, the argument being used for the refusal of refugees is being used to oppose gun control legislation: the risk of danger is low because the majority of gun owners/Syrian refugees pose no threat. Current safety measures/screening procedures are sufficient.

How does one reconcile being pro-gun control with being pro-refugee when refusing to allow Syrian refugees into our country would clearly lower the risk of dangerous foreign terrorists assimilating into our society within the current legal system (albeit through illegal means)?  If one believes in ensuring public safety via taking restrictive steps to control those who might pose a threat to the public with the use of firearms (many of which were acquired by illegal means but purchased within the current legal screening process), why does that argument not also stand true for allowing Syrian refugees onto U.S. soil.

By the same token, how can those who seek a country with minimal regulation and government intervention oppose offering asylum for well-documented, pre-screened, law-abiding humans in crisis?

Food for Thought on Other Issues:

“Not treading on rights” can be applied equally to gun ownership and reproductive choice. The label “pro-life” can reference both the death penalty and abortion. Most Democrats and Republicans fall on opposite sides of these issues, yet the argument for one issue is in conflict with their reasoning for the other.

In all of the instances I’ve mentioned, there is an issue-by-issue discrepancy in political ideology within the established platforms of political parties. Our society is extremely polarized, but both “sides” are applying conflicting reasoning to different issues within their platform.

We will likely never all agree on every issue, but perhaps we should all be more mindful of the inconsistencies within our own arguments and process each of these issues individually rather than following a predetermined (sometimes conflicting) party line. We share more common ground than we realize once we dig deeply and form our own personal opinions.  The greatest difficulty we face is finding ways to utilize this common ground for the greater good.

by Shannon Fisher

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