Need good deeds, not closed doors

(Bloomington) Herald-Times

In an Indiana University Media School class, students were asked if any of them had been to Paris.

Out of 25 students in the room, 10 raised their hands. That’s strong evidence of a new global generation, college students for whom international travel is as common as it was for previous generations to take a class trip to Chicago or Washington, D.C.

The terrorism in Paris affects us all. It wasn’t of the magnitude of the attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, and it wasn’t as personal because this wasn’t the United States being attacked but a longtime ally. It was a horrifying display of inhumanity that has a lot of people asking: What’s the next target? How safe are we?

But it’s fair to say those of college age may take this one more personally than even 9/11 in some ways, because they were between 5 and 8 years old in 2001. They sensed their parents’ pain, but for the most part weren’t able to process what was happening themselves.

Of course, those of college age also have been exposed to gun violence in schools and universities. They already know what’s possible. And now they’ve seen terrorism infect a city many of them have been to; a city like others in Europe they’ve been to or are planning to go to during their college years.

Will this chill future travel by U.S. students to Paris and other cities in Europe, Asia and even Africa? It shouldn’t, unless we want to hand the terrorists a victory. As in the aftermath of 9/11, the loss of freedom would be a victory for the bad guys.

It has cost some innocent people fleeing ISIS and a war zone in Syria a chance at freedom and possibly life itself. That story reached Indiana soon after the attacks.

Gov. Mike Pence said Indiana will no longer accept Syrian refugees as had been planned. Pence pointed to the news that a Syrian refugee is believed to be one of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks as the reason.

“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world, but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect,” he said.

The governor of Alabama, a state not exactly known for being welcoming, was the first to close its borders. Pence quickly joined him. By late Monday afternoon, 13 governors had said they wouldn’t accept Syrian refugees, and President Obama was calling their decisions “shameful.”

We won’t go that far, but it is sad that Pence and the other governors are essentially turning their backs on people in desperate need of help and essentially blaming the federal government — “pending assurance … that proper security measures have been achieved.” If one of the Paris terrorists was a Syrian refugee, he beat that country’s security measures, not those in place in the U.S. What’s going to convince these governors like Pence, who are always warning against federal overreach, that they can provide the assurance necessary to accept refugees escaping a humanitarian crisis?

This was a horrific attack, carried out in a frightening and complex world. However, turning our back on children, women and men in need is not the answer. We encourage Gov. Pence to look for another way.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.