I recently finished an interesting eBook titled: “The Three Languages of Politics,” by economist Arnold Kling. The premise of the book is that most of us view politics through one of three heuristic lenses in what Kling calls the “three axis model.” Kling opines we both transmit and receive information along one of three completely different axes: an oppressor-oppressed axis, where the oppressor is evil and the oppressed is good; a civilization-barbarism axis, where civilization is good and barbarism is bad; and a freedom-coercion axis, where freedom is good and coercion is bad. While the purpose of this article is not to unpack Kling’s thesis in great detail (I will let readers invest their own $1.99 to do that), I will use the three axis model to suggest we often discuss politics in our own political language and when we do, we render our positions greatly misunderstood by others who don’t speak the same political language. Case in point is Donald Trump’s recent comments on the presidential campaign trail, where he stated he wants to see a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The social media outlets exploded with outrage from many who saw his comments as racist and bigoted, while others claimed his common sense approach to national security is sorely needed. One side is arguing against Muslim immigration along a national security axis; another side is supporting Muslim immigration along a religious freedom axis. Unfortunately, neither side is acknowledging the concerns of the other, and as long as we argue in our own political language exclusively, it will be next to impossible to develop a policy that comes close to being acceptable to half our population.
I believe there is a way to solve this dilemma that addresses the concerns of most, and it is through the practice of private refugee sponsorship. Unlike Canada, which has had a policy of private refugee sponsorship for years, there is currently no legal program available in the United States for individuals and/or groups to sponsor refugees. This has not always been the case. Under the Reagan Administration thousands of refugees were resettled in the United States by private sponsorship with very little taxpayer support, and the program was largely successful.
While much of the refugee argument has been framed in terms of Christian charity, I am not so sure there is anything particularly Christian or charitable about a policy of extracting taxes from all Americans to redistribute the funds to government selected voluntary agencies and using the funds to resettle refugees where they are largely unwanted. The way to demonstrate Christian love for the refugee is to get the government out of the refugee resettlement business (with the possible exceptions of using federal agencies to conduct background security checks and public health examinations). Rather than allow politically motivated bureaucrats decide which immigrants will be net positives as new citizens, let individual private sponsors take the financial and social risks of bringing refugees to our shores. There are thousands of individuals and groups willing to use their own resources to demonstrate Christian love to refugees, and I say we let them.
By removing government from the equation, the sponsor will then be able to demonstrate genuine agape love rather than what I call “Facebook crusader feel good love.” The sponsor rather than the taxpayer can ensure the refugee has food, shelter, healthcare, education, and employment, as well as oversee the refugee’s assimilation into American culture.
The first step in demonstrating America’s Christian charity is to stop doing so by government decree. By allowing private sponsorship, we speak to the concerns of progressives, who will witness oppressed peoples not only being tolerated but embraced by individual sponsors. We speak to the security concerns of conservatives when refugees are supervised by interested private sponsors working towards the ultimate assimilation of the refugees. And finally, we speak to the concerns of libertarians because citizens will not be forced to fund or participate in a government program against their will.
If the goal is to open America’s opportunity to foreign refugees while being mindful of national security concerns, and Christian charity is the banner under which we rally, then I believe a private sponsorship program for refugees is our best option.