Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, in response to the bigoted comments and ideas proposed by some US governors, has the best remedy for the fear and panic that have led some to openly attack the Muslim community in general following the Paris terrorist attacks: fight ISIS at home with openness and tolerance.
Comments about refusing Syrian refugees in the United States came after it was revealed that one of the Paris attackers may have entered Europe along with refugees from Greece. Branson wrote in an op-ed on his blog:
“I understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens from violence and terror. But to impose collective punishment on tens of thousands in their moment of greatest despair, in false hope it might stop a determined few, may well be counterproductive. And it is profoundly inhumane.”
Branson compared the refusal to accept Muslim refugees when they need help the most to America’s Japanese internment camps during World War II, which “achieved very little” and “scarred a community” for generations.
He also reminded readers that some U.S. governors, like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, are also the children of refugees.
“He and others should know that welcoming the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, and the despondent with open arms has been one of the most enduring and positive chapters of the American narrative; and it has helped the country move from strength to strength – culturally, politically, and economically.”
Branson also highlighted how some politicians have called for a faith-based immigration policy that would filter out Muslim refugees and only allow Christians:
“President Obama responded best when calling these suggestions ‘shameful’. ‘That’s not who we are,’ he said. ‘We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.’ I couldn’t agree more.”
Branson ended his op-ed with three excellent answers to the fear, hate and terror that ISIS hoped to spread:
“Personally, I couldn’t think of a more powerful response to ISIS’ threats than to embrace those who have escaped their daily horrors with understanding, kindness and love.”
If ISIS is betting that our fear will lead to the religious segregation of our society, we should hope that the good in us won’t give them that satisfaction.