Angelina Jolie has never been shy about being political. She’s worked extensively as an activist all over the world, and one of her passions is providing help for refugees. That’s why it’s really no surprise that her op-ed in The New York Times calling for the U.S. to fix its refugee policy is kind of everything. It’s passionate and articulate, though we’d expect nothing less.
“Refugees are men, women and children caught in the fury of war, or the cross hairs of persecution. Far from being terrorists, they are often the victims of terrorism themselves,” Jolie wrote. “I’m proud of our country’s history of giving shelter to the most vulnerable people. Americans have shed blood to defend the idea that human rights transcend culture, geography, ethnicity and religion. The decision to suspend the resettlement of refugees to the United States and deny entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries has been met with shock by our friends around the world precisely because of this record.”
Jolie writes that the global threat of terrorism makes it perfectly acceptable for the U.S. to take steps to protect itself, but she also points out that refugees are definitely not terrorists, and they don’t pose any threat at all to the country (something that should be common knowledge, so good for her for writing about it so eloquently when it probably makes her want to scream). She also writes about her own experiences with her six kids, all of whom are adopted from other countries.
“As the mother of six children, who were all born in foreign lands and are proud American citizens, I very much want our country to be safe for them, and all our nation’s children,” she says. “But I also want to know that refugee children who qualify for asylum will always have a chance to plead their case to a compassionate America. And that we can manage our security without writing off citizens of entire countries — even babies — as unsafe to visit our country by virtue of geography or religion.”
Jolie ends her piece with a plea to focus our energy on fighting actual threats and not using refugees as a scapegoat.
“The lesson of the years we have spent fighting terrorism since Sept. 11 is that every time we depart from our values we worsen the very problem we are trying to contain. We must never allow our values to become the collateral damage of a search for greater security. Shutting our door to refugees or discriminating among them is not our way, and does not make us safer. Acting out of fear is not our way. Targeting the weakest does not show strength,” she writes. “We all want to keep our country safe. So we must look to the sources of the terrorist threat — to the conflicts that give space and oxygen to groups like the Islamic State, and the despair and lawlessness on which they feed. We have to make common cause with people of all faiths and backgrounds fighting the same threat and seeking the same security. This is where I would hope any president of our great nation would lead on behalf of all Americans.”
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