Within the last four years of the bloody Syrian conflict, the United States has housed a staggering 2,000 Syrian refugees. More refugees arrive than this in a single day in Germany. Why is it that the U.S insists on closing our borders and turning our backs to our struggling allies? The rhetoric surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis could be in part to blame.
In Celeste Michelle Condit’s journal article titled Democracy and civil rights: the universalizing influence of public argumentation, he details the three components of persuasive discourse that make up an argument: ideograph, narrative/myth, and characterization. Relating these components to the civil rights movement, Condit believes that the South’s stance failed to “hold water” due to a lack of utilizing these three components. Just as the Union lost the civil war, I believe that the argument to ban refugees will collapse due to the fact that the narrative is full of faulty accusations:
Ideographs that portray Syrian Refugees as “terrorists” and “ISIS” create shock value and mislabel the individuals. Also, much argument for not letting refugees into the US is backed by the accusation that the Paris attacks were implemented by Syrian refugees. This narrative is false (the terrorists were Paris citizens), but the story still remains what most people believe to be true.
Lastly, Syrian refugees are characterized as indigenous people who would “have immense trouble trying to keep up with American culture”. In reality, some of the refugees are doctors, lawyers, teachers with PHDs just like us. The public discourse regarding the Syrian refugee situation is failing to provide the public with both sides of the story, and through faulty rhetoric a different story is told. The more that we tell the true story behind this false rhetoric, the closer we can get back to being a nation that stands for what we preach: one nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.