In the same week that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump brought his strong opinions about Muslims to the USC Aiken’s Convocation Center, the Aiken County Council also approved a resolution against relocating Syrian refugees to the region.
It’s been quite a week in Aiken County.
All of a sudden Aiken County is sounding a lot more like ultra-conservative areas such as Texas these days.
Just this week, Republican leaders in Texas announced plans to expand the legal authority of the states to bar Syrian refugees.
“No other state has taken a more aggressive approach to blocking Syrian refugees than Texas, which last week became the first state to try to bar the refugees by suing the federal government,” The New York Times reported this week.
The Republican leaders call for action came just a few days before Texas was expecting the arrival of 21 Syrian refugees to the Houston and Dallas areas.
So, who were these Syrian refugees?
The 21 people included 12 children ages 2 to 15, The New York Times reported.
“On Monday, six members of a Syrian family — two children aged 3 and 6, their parents and their grandparents — joined relatives who were already living in the Dallas area,” the newspaper reported.
Could some of these refugees be dangerous? They could be.
Just because the majority of refugees are children, doesn’t mean all 21 refugees are completely safe.
The fact that the married couple responsible for the mass shooting in California last week that killed 14 people and wounded more than 20 others were parents of an infant daughter shook many folks to their core.
How could parents abandon their infant daughter to commit one of the deadliest U.S. assaults in years?
But the California shooters weren’t Syrian refugees and FBI Director James Comey said the couple had turned radical long before the rise of ISIS.
One of the San Bernardino killers Syed Rizwan Farook, was a U.S. citizen born in Illinois. His 29-year-old wife, Tashfeen Malik, was born in Pakistan but lived for some time in Saudi Arabia.
So, should this country close its borders to all Muslims, like Trump is suggesting?
It’s ironic that those words are coming out of Trump’s mouth.
This is the same man who has eagerly sold his name and products to customers all over the world, including residents of Muslim-majority countries, the same people he’s now saying he wants to stop from entering this country.
“One of Trump’s famous golf courses is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates,” Fortune magazine reported this week. “Qatar Airways, a state-owned enterprise, has an office in Trump Tower in Manhattan. And earlier this year, Trump inked a deal with a Dubai-based retailer to sell Trump luxury products in the Middle East.”
The question becomes: Where do you draw the line? Should the United States not accept any refugees from any country? What would happen if this nation closed its borders to all Muslims?
Shouldn’t this country focus more on heavily screening folks coming into the U.S. rather than trying to ban them from entering all together?
And, back here in the CSRA, what does all this have to do with Aiken County?
Well, everyone knows that Aiken County is horse country.
Whether its polo horses or thoroughbreds, one of the most charming aspects of Aiken is its horse community.
So, do you know where a large number of thoroughbred horses and investors in the local stables come from?
Countries throughout the Middle East. These are investors from Muslim-majority countries that have financially supported local stables and been members of the Aiken horse community for decades.
Now, obviously the Aiken County Council’s resolution didn’t attack all Muslims. It’s just a resolution against relocating Syrian refugees to Aiken County.
The resolution specifically states the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program would result in “unfunded burdens to schools, law enforcement, living arrangements and health care providers.”
The refugees could also cause “serious security concerns,” the resolution states.
But attempting to slam the door on Syrian refugees at a local level definitely casts a different light on Aiken County.
Let’s just say, Donald Trump probably felt right at home in Aiken this week.