Let’s not be distracted by schoolyard bullies
Buffalo is – and has always been – a city of immigrants. We see this in Irish pubs in South Buffalo, Italian bakeries off Hertel, and flavors from the West Indies to the Horn of Africa on Grant Street. Many of us still feel pride at our ancestors’ arrival in America and continue to identify with the rituals of the Old Country in our neighborhoods, our churches and our families.
Although raised in this uniquely American story, Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo now says that families fleeing the war in Syria are not welcome in Western New York. This cheap political attack is also part of a long tradition: I am sure that some local office seeker said the same thing about the Irish fleeing famine and Italians escaping poverty.
Lorigo’s disregard of our shared history is surpassed only by his ignorance of the resettlement process and the extensive background checks conducted before refugees enter the United States. His fear-mongering will not make us safer – that can only be accomplished by a complete destruction of ISIS, a political end to the war and ensuring that the next generation of Syrian children has a chance to live in peace.
These are incredible challenges that require the focus, resolve and political will of the United States and the international community. We must not be distracted by schoolyard bullies who attempt to look strong by attacking the weak. In Buffalo, we are strong enough to defeat ISIS and welcome the next Americans to our shores.