A Weary Colossus


This Politico article and the video that goes with it are heartbreaking. After talking tough and acting brave a year ago, the Obama administration has conveniently forgotten about its pledge to help the Yazidi escape extermination by ISIS.

As Politico’s Eliza Collins writes:

In an emotional, at times tearful, on-stage interview at POLITICO’s “Women Rule” event Wednesday morning in Washington, Dakhil described a full-blown humanitarian crisis — 420,000 Yazidis living in refugee camps in tents with mud floors, women and girls continuing to be kidnapped, 2,200 girls in captivity as sexual slaves, and survivors returning from the horror of ISIL captivity with no resources for psychological support. Thousands of orphans have no homes.

How far have we fallen from our old ideal of offering refuge to the oppressed people of the world. People like the Yazidi, the religious minorities of the Near East, will never find safety where they live. ISIS will be defeated, either (hopefully) by us or (more likely) by Russia, but the idea of religious persecution and genocide are harder to stamp out. There may come a day when that region is free of those ideas, but I doubt we will see it in our lifetime. And how many will die before that day of enlightenment arrives?

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our nation is vast and wealthy. We could rescue every Christian, Druze, and Yazidi in Syria and hardly break a sweat. I know Emma Lazarus’s poem is not a part of the Constitution or the United States Code, but her words embody a part of America’s character that centuries of nativists have not managed to stamp out. In times like these, with the wold in turmoil and a people driven to slavery and death, we should remember them.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”