Letter: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ means everyone


To the editor,

Mike Santangelo expressed his opinion that Connecticut (USA?) shouldn’t accept Syrian refugees in your columns of March 6. He also says the basic premise for immigration is to enhance American civil society. Whatever that is supposed to mean it certainly doesn’t appear anywhere in international directives. Nor should it.

Is Mr. Santangelo familiar with the sad history of almost every group of immigrants or refugees into this and many other countries? Probably Mr. Santangelo’s own family experienced the rejection and prejudice shown in the past to Irish, Polish, Chinese and many more ethnic groups.

Sadly, it’s part of human nature to want to keep the wealth and security they have to themselves. Yet these newcomers almost always enrich the culture of their new country, working hard to make a good life for their families and becoming some of our most productive and talented citizens. I believe a lot of this uproar about Syrians and other displaced people from these areas is because their culture and, even more so, their religion is seen as different from ours and, therefore, dangerous. Mr. Santangelo says America is a Judea-Christian nation — look at what Jews have had to endure, both here and in many other countries being excluded and persecuted. Similarly, Catholics were reviled — our “first Catholic President” made headlines — it had been unthinkable at one time. Assimilation takes time.

Two other things that Mr. Santangelo chooses to believe: “We are the most charitable nation on earth.” How can that be true when comparatively small and poor nations like Turkey and Greece have been flooded with refugees and have been welcoming them, as best they could until recently when their economies are in danger of collapsing with so little help from the big, wealthy countries of the world. Canada has adopted an entirely different attitude to the USA and has welcomed these poor displaced people. (Families, not the crazy, young, dangerous men Mr. Santangelo pretends them to be).

The second thing Mr. Santangelo talks of is maintaining the safety and security of this country. Do you really think, Mr. Santangelo, that it is normal to have shooters killing and maiming “innocent Americans” at schools, theaters and other public places almost daily? The vast majority of these criminals are American and, sadly, we have become so accustomed to this ongoing and escalating slaughter that it is has become part of our everyday lives. I travel overseas regularly and, everywhere I go, I am asked about the constant violence in the USA. It is not seen in any other developed country and is a home-grown problem.

I believe the biblical admonishment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” means everyone on this earth — not just our own families or the person we live next door to. Thank God for those good people who are willing to give aid and assistance wherever it’s needed.

Terry Peirce