Commentary

Greensboro Thanksgiving event defends refugees, hopefully shames politicians

The Greensboro News & Record has a worth-your-while, front page article this morning about a special kind of Thanksgiving event that took place last night. Here’s the lead:

“What happens when there are more people than chairs at the Thanksgiving table?

In most large families, people just eat standing up. Or they sit in chairs along the wall.

That’s what happened Monday night, as a large and nontraditional ‘family’ held a combination multicultural Thanksgiving dinner and news conference to support Syrian refugees.

About 350 people — elected officials, immigrants and aid workers — showed up for the celebration, where organizers had set places for 250.

No one cared. The evening was more about the message that came before the meal: All refugees, including Syrian refugees, should feel welcome here.

Speakers said America has a moral imperative not to turn them away — as the nation did to about 900 Jewish refugees trying to enter the country on the S.S. St. Louis in 1939.”

Let’s hope that, in addition to bolstering those in attendance, the event went at least a little way toward melting the icy heart of Congressman Mark Walker. This is also from the article:

“Before dinner, representatives from the group held a press conference in which they urged elected officials not to curtail Syrian refugees coming into the community.

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-6th) briefly attended the event. Earlier Monday, Walker held his own press conference in which he defended his recent vote to add extra screening requirements for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Several speakers briefly noted his presence at the celebration. The crowd gave unenthusiastic applause to Walker, who appeared uncomfortable at times. He left before the press conference ended.

Speaker Zane Kuseybi, a Syrian-American who is hosting a family of refugees, told Walker from the podium that he is ‘disappointed by your vote.’”

Cong. Mark WalkerWalker (pictured at left) deserves at least some credit for showing up last night, but his public stance on the issue has been as abysmal as most other prominent politicians in the state — a fact made all the more notable by the fact that Walker was only recently elected to office following a career as a Christian minister.

Let’s hope last night’s event forced Walker to think a little harder than he has been about the issue. As one of the speakers told him last night with respect to proposals to deny entrance to Syrian refugees:

“We want you to be the one official out of everyone who says, ‘No, that’s not the right thing to do.’”

Sometimes leadership on issue comes from unusual places. Maybe Congressman Walker will seize the opportunity to provide it here. Click here to read the entire article.

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