November 19, 2015

To pander or to lead?

A number of WV politicians, like many others across the nation, are falling all over themselves to try to block the entrance of refugees from Syria, many of which are children, from entering the state.

A recent Bloomberg Poll shows that a majority of Americans likewise oppose admitting the refugees. But you know what? Sometimes it's more important to be right than to be popular. Pandering to xenophobia is no doubt an easy gig, but there's no honor in it.

I prefer those who take a principled stand, like NY Congressman Eliot Engel, who had this (and more) to say:

I read a poll the other day. The question was quote, “What’s your attitude towards allowing political refugees to come into the US?” unquote. Sixty-seven point four agreed with the response, “With conditions as they are, we should try to keep them out.” More than two thirds. “Try to keep them out.”
That poll was conducted in the summer of 1938. And the question in its entirety was, “What’s your attitude towards allowing German, Austrian and other political refugees to come into the US?” European Jews. More than two-thirds of Americans thought we should just close the gates just four months before Kristallnacht.

We know how that turned out.

My question: in retrospect, which group from 1938 would you rather have been a part of, the popular one or the right one?

Next question: how about today?

1 comment:

Susan J. said...

Google says:

pander - "gratify or indulge (an immoral or distasteful desire, need, or habit or a person with such a desire, etc.)."

xenophobia - "intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries."

It seems to me that "the popular" approach nowadays is to take a strong stand, stake it out as "the right one" and then get busy ridiculing all others as panderers, fools, immoral, irrational, etc.

Here's an example of a commentator accusing Bernie Sanders of "pandering" to Millenials, whom the headline characterizes as "ignorant":

Personally, I'd rather be part of a group that tries to see and hear all sides of an issue, including why those who disagree see things as they do. The urge to "be right" can be quite a trap.

Surely you don't believe that everyone who agrees with the poll statement "With conditions as they are, we should try to keep them out” is a xenophobe?

I'm quite troubled by your post.... you seem to joining the fray, fanning the flames of discord, presumably in order to rally the troops to your side....

Sorry... these are difficult times...

Grace and peace to you and yours,

Susan J.

PS Thanks as always for providing links to some of your sources. For anyone reading this, the Bloomberg video was pretty interesting and informative.