|Yazidi refugee children in Iraqi Kurdistan, 2014.|
First, as has been noted here before, there is no human right to be a Canadian citizen. Canadians have every right to pick and choose whom to let in.
We already do this, as does everyone. We give preference to those who are fluent in English or French. This ensures that they will find it easier to fit in. By the same token, we ought to give preference to Christians. Like it or not, Canada is a Christian country. We date our years from the birth of Christ. We take Sundays and not Fridays off. Christmas and Easter are national holidays. We put crosses on our mountaintops, and call our towns St. John’s. We have a lot of churches, many with excess capacity, and rather few mosques. All of these things make life more difficult and alienating for Muslim as compared to Christian immigrants. At the same time, members of non-Christian minority faiths should have relatively little problem adjusting, as their status in Canada will not be much different from that at home: Yazidis, Farsis, and Jews, for example. They too will probably find things easier here.
Of course, there is also that little matter of an ongoing genocide against non-Muslims in ISIS-controlled areas. The author of the NP piece makes much of the fact that the refugees are currently in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, and therefore cannot for the moment be killed by ISIS. Of course they are; they are refugees. But they cannot stay there forever, and they are there precisely because ISIS is seeking to kill them. To refuse them priority is like refusing to let in Jews during the Nazi holocaust, on the grounds that, after all, someone else could take them just as well. One should not hear such arguments in this epoch.
I am doubly nonplussed by the attitude here of Caritas. Apparently, they do not want to help, because they do not want to be seen as encouraging Christians to leave their traditional lands in the Middle East. Yes, it is sad, in an abstract way, but isn’t a human life worth more than a plot of earth?
Harper’s move is also judicious for the obvious reason that, if we limit ourselves to Christians, Yazidis, and other non-Muslim minorities, we are guaranteeing that we will not be inadvertently letting in ISIS terrorists. This should be a consideration. No doubt, most Muslims are not ISIS sympathizers, although at the same time there seems to be little or no local constituency in Syria for an armed fight for liberal democracy. But all ISIS sympathizers are Muslims. And there is simply no other way to be sure.
For God’s sake, let them in.