WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE
American and Our Honorable Predicament
The United States is a nation both gifted and condemned by what I have come to find isan honorable predicament. Our nation is one specially positioned to be viewed as a failure for foreign inaction, and “imperialist” for our willingness to act. I tend to view our foreignrole as a nation of great power, blessed with a moral obligation to enact change on a global scale. This, I must stress, is a blessing.
With this in mind, both myself and a coalition of Iraqi Christian leadership throughout the United States recently traveled to Washington to meet with White House advisers, including Ben Rhodes, congressional leaders and members of the State Department, to discuss the protection of religious minorities in the Middle East who are being targeted and killed by members of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, a terrorist organization.
Quite quickly, we realized that any legislative progress was a distant hope, but one carried out faithfully by the likes of Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, in the form of House Resolution 683, which reaffirms America’s commitment to persecuted religious minorities. The passage of such a resolution, which I was proud to help Congressman Vargas draft, as the last item before the congressional break, was a truly remarkable feat and a testament to the potential for positive legislation in Washington.
This was a rare sign of success for our embattled brothers and sisters in the Middle East, whose ethnic cleansing had been met with little to no response by leaders in Washington, D.C. Many people in Washington and across our nation do not have a good understanding of what’s occurring in Northern Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Nor are they aware that the Chaldean Catholic Church is a branch of the Catholic Church. Put another way — Christians in the Middle East are being persecuted for saying the Our Father and Hail Mary.
While it would be easy to rest upon the work completed, we must move forward. Because, that which comes difficult is always worth the journey.
House Resolution 683 was not an end, but the means to a new beginning. As of now, we continue to do what we can to push for a secure means of asylum for those whose family members have been murdered, whose very lives are in danger, and who have been displaced, without access to food, water and diapers. We must grant these individuals the chance not just to survive, but live.
As Americans, the duality of our honorable predicament puts us in a valuable position. One that has the capability to leave a light footprint. One that gives us the chance to act as humanitarians before militants. One that enables us to protect life before harming it. In my discussions with White House officials I share with them that this is the America I wish to see throughout the world. An America whose presence is felt, but never visible.
Which is why both myself, and the 70,000 Iraqi Christians who have decided to call the United States home, are delivering an urgent plea to the Obama administration: We need executive action. All necessary measures must be considered and implemented that would help assist minorities affected by the onslaught of ISIS. Additionally, steps need to be taken to restrict the movement of ISIS forces. Quickly, we see the hostilities of ISIS becoming a regional threat, and without the influence of the U.S., ISIS will be our threat.
It is my hope that the great citizens of San Diego continue to support the endeavors of both the Iraqi Christian people and myself. Your sensitivity to these matters is truly appreciated. It is in our most simple of daily tasks that we are reminded of what so many around the world desire — freedom of choice, voice and prayer.
And while many fringe elements of the public wish it were not so, the cross we bear is Democracy. So while such international standing may not be a choice, it’s weight is carried in a moral obligation. This is our humanitarian privilege. This is our honorable predicament.