By Jonathan Greenberg, Originally published in The Hill
The debate in recent weeks over the Syrian refugee crisis has been a terribly sad exercise in American predictability. Perhaps you’ve noticed the hyperbole on your Facebook feed. It’s easier and more emotional to argue with each other about 10,000 people from a foreign country than to figure out what to do about the nearly five-year-old civil war in Syria that is, of course, the cause of the problem. That is the conversation we should be having.
But it is difficult to have that conversation with people who are interested in self-serving moral posturing. And while none of us can ever know the soul of another, what we can do is check the record to see if it matches the rhetoric. In the case of Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), it does not.
Duckworth’s recent commentary in the Chicago Tribune, when left to stand alone, is a fairly standard work of political writing. It doesn’t say much, but it says it passionately. When compared to her record on the issue, though, it is a study in callous opportunism and cynical manipulation. This is a tragedy for the Syrian refugees because, truly, her voice could have made a difference.
Duckworth cares about Syrian refugees so much that she has made almost no official statements about them in 2015. No tweets. No press releases. Nothing in the Congressional Record. For that matter, the Illinois congresswoman, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has hardly mentioned Syria at all, even as the situation in that war-torn country has deteriorated. Despite the deaths of 300,000 people, the displacement of 1.5 million people, the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons, the targeting of civilians, massive movements of refugees into Europe, the rise of al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the unwelcome military intervention of Russia, Duckworth has had virtually nothing to say.