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Immigration Straight Talk
Common Sense from a Cleric

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that those with fear about large-scale immigration must be listened to, not marginalized. The Telegraph reports:

British families are entitled to fear the impact that “enormous” numbers of migrants will have on jobs, housing and the NHS, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said that it is “absolutely outrageous” to condemn people who raise concerns as “racist” and said that their “genuine fears” must be listened to and addressed.

In an interview with The House magazine, he described the scale of the migration crisis as “colossal” and said that people are “justified” when they raise concerns.[..]

He said: “Fear is a valid emotion at a time of such colossal crisis. This is one of the greatest movements of people in human history. Just enormous. And to be anxious about that is very reasonable.

“There is a tendency to say ‘Those people are racist’, which is just outrageous, absolutely outrageous.

“In fragile communities particularly – and I’ve worked in many areas with very fragile communities over my time as a clergyman – there is a genuine fear: what happens about housing? What happens about jobs? What happens about access to health services?”

The Archbishop added that hope, as well as fear, was justified, and expressed optimism that Britain would be up to the challenge. But he reiterated that concern was rational and not racist.

At a certain level, this amounts to no more than common sense—the numbers coming are enormous, the flow shows few signs of abating, and with all the good will in the world, there are rational reasons to be concerned—not least, there are finite resources and finite ability of each country to absorb and assimilate (much less employ) the number of people who are on the move into and across Europe right now.

But such common sense that has, sadly, been, all too uncommon. The Archbishop’s remarks stand in stark contrast to those of the Pope and of European and American politicians who have implied, to a greater or lesser degree, that concern about or opposition to the refugee flow is illegitimate.

For American leaders looking to shape the political discourse in a post-Trump world, the Archbishop’s words and, just as importantly, tone are a great place to start: recognizing that there are positions on both sides of the debate that are consonant with good intentions and concern for the marginalized. It’s a commentary on the current state of politics in the West that his approach is, for now, the exception rather than the rule.

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