This 6-year-old can teach us all something about the Syrian refugee crisis

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Syrian refugees suffering from violence and hunger in their war-torn country have become a hot-button issue in the 2016 campaign, with Republican nominee Donald Trump saying he'd ban them from coming to the United States and Hillary Clinton saying the country "has to do more" to help them.

But one letter, sent to President Barack Obama from a 6-year-old boy named Alex, shows that through the lens of a child, refugees aren't a political issue, but rather people who deserve compassion.

"Remember the boy who was picked up by the ambulance in Syria?" Alex asked Obama, referring to Omran Daqneesh, the 5-year-old boy whose bloodied face became a viral photo. "Can you please go get him and bring him to [our home?] Park in the driveway or on the street and we'll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother."

Obama read a portion of Alex's letter during a speech to the Leaders' Summit on Refugees during a gathering of the United Nations this week in New York.

"The humanity that a young child can display, who hasn't learned to be cynical or suspicious or fearful of other people because of where they're from or how they look or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness — we can all learn from Alex," Obama said.

The letter and accompanying video from the White House came during a week when Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., denigrated Syrian refugees.

Both have said accepting refugees from an area of the world where the Islamic State group thrives poses a terrorism risk in the U.S. 

Trump Jr. was widely condemned for comparing Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country to poisoned Skittles in a viral tweet on Monday. 

And Trump said during a rally in Ohio Wednesday that admitting refugees "isn't only a matter of terrorism, but also a matter of quality of life" — suggesting refugees are harmful to American culture and society.

But to Alex, refugees aren't people to fear.

"In my school, I have a friend from Syria, Omar, and I will introduce him to Omar," Alex wrote of Daqneesh. "We can all play together. We can invite him to birthday parties and he will teach us another language. We can teach him English too, just like we taught my friend Aoto from Japan."

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Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

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