When Ms. Nikki Haley was governor of South Carolina, I had some admiration for her, based on what little I knew of her. While Ms. Haley had not, in the past, been supportive of removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, after the Charleston church shooting where Dylan Roof murdered nine African-Americans, Haley changed her stance with good grace …
“These grounds [the State Capital] are a place that everybody should feel a part of. What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain. There is a place for that flag. It’s not in a place that represents all people in South Carolina.”
She also refused to support anti-LGBT legislation that would have required transgender individuals to use restrooms based on biological sex instead of gender identity …
“These are not instances… Y’all haven’t reported on anything. I haven’t heard anything that’s come to my office. So when I look at South Carolina, we look at our situations, we’re not hearing of anybody’s religious liberties that are being violated, and we’re, again, not hearing any citizens that feel like they are being violated in terms of freedoms.”
She called for Donald Trump to release his tax returns, and in turn was the victim of Trump’s verbal assault.
And that was most of what I knew of Haley, and I liked what I saw. However, when Trump named her to the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I had grave concerns. First, she had no experience in foreign policy and her limited experience, I felt, would ensure that she was in far over her head. But, Donnie didn’t listen to me, so there she sits.
What respect I once had for Nikki Haley has long since evaporated, for a number of reasons, the main one being that once named as Ambassador, she quickly lost her values and became just another of Trump’s lap dogs, doing the tricks he trained her to do. But this week, she said something so unconscionable, so stupid and ludicrous, that I have to call her on it.
In 2016, 15,000 Syrian refugees were admitted to the U.S. In 2017, that number dropped to 3,000. And by the end of the first quarter of 2018, fewer than 12. Given Trump’s xenophobic, Islamaphobic immigration policies, is it any wonder that they are afraid to come to this country? But no, says Haley, the reason they have stopped coming is because they would rather stay in Syria. I want to let out a primal scream on this one, but I am trying to remain calm, to use my words rather than shred my vocal chords.
Dear Ms. Haley,
I have had the honour and pleasure to live next door to a family of Syrian refugees – father, mother, and three sons – since December 2014. Normally, I would expect a person in your position to have a greater understanding than I on this topic, but since you obviously do not have any understanding, please allow me to enlighten you.
This family spent years taking turns staying up all night and watching … watching for soldiers, listening for gunshots, listening for planes overhead so that whichever adult was on ‘watch duty’ that night could awaken the others, and they could herd the children to the nearest place of safety. They saw friends and family killed. They had no electricity much of the time, no refrigeration ever. They came to this country, after a long wait, because they wanted to give their boys a life free of bombs, soldiers, chemical attacks, and fear … always fear. They wanted a better life for their children, just as we all do.
Yes, they miss Syria, miss their homeland, their friends, their families. And no, given different circumstances, they would likely not have chosen to come to the U.S. where they are taunted and teased for their dress, their language and their religion. But make no mistake, they did come here seeking a safe haven, and others would as well … certainly more than a dozen in three months. But we no longer welcome them. We have a cruel man leading the nation who has promoted hatred of immigrants, who has encouraged violence against refugees, so they are now nearly as afraid to come here as they are to remain in Syria.
“They want to stay as close to Syria as they can so that when, God willing, this fighting stops and when there is finally stability and peace in that area, they want to go rejoin their family members. They want to go back to what they remember.”
Ms. Haley … under what circumstances do you actually see the fighting in Syria stopping? Do you truly believe there will ever, in your lifetime, be peace in Syria? Because if you believe that, you have just proven my initial conclusion, that you are highly unqualified for your position. Peace in Syria in the next 50 years is about as likely as me sprouting wings and flying.
No, Ms. Haley, Syrians have not stopped coming to the U.S. because they prefer to stay in Syria and live in fear day-after-day. Syrians have stopped coming here because the ‘man’ sitting in the Oval Office, your boss, has made the U.S. a living hell for Middle Eastern immigrants. We should be ashamed, and the majority of us, myself included, are.
My neighbors, by the way, are among the kindest people I have ever known. They are constantly making special treats for us, I am free to use their car any time I need to, we share meals on holidays, and when I had my eye surgery, they brought me a bouquet of flowers. They are as worthy as anybody I know to live in this country, and I am proud to call them ‘friend’.
As for you, Ms. Ambassador, I suggest you seek advice from some former State Department officials who may be able to help you understand the Middle East before you open your mouth again.