The Pilgrims Were Definitely Not Like Modern-Day Refugees

Scott Greer Contributor
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This upcoming Thanksgiving Day is sure to offer you and your family plenty of opportunities to argue over whether America should be welcoming Syrian refugees.

If you have any liberal relatives or friends coming over for your Thursday feast, they’re going to relish the chance to tell everyone that the Pilgrims were refugees too — and hope that statement decimates all opposing view points.

Many left-wing publications and pundits are doing their utmost to promote this line in order to generate support for America taking in thousands of Syrian refugees.

For example, The Huffington Post ran a blurb with the headline “This Thanksgiving, Remember America’s Pilgrims Were Refugees, Too.” There’s one paragraph explaining how they fled religious persecution and found a warm welcome from the local Indians. Then it sneers off into snark over “how well that turned out” and to bashing Republican presidential candidates.

It’s noteworthy that a group of people HuffPo has previously considered genocidal zealots can now be used as props for left-wing talking points.

If it wasn’t for the Syrian refugee debate, sites like HuffPo, Salon and others would be running their usual “Happy Genocide Day” coverage and dumping vitriol on the poor settlers who forged this nation.

Regardless, comparing seventeenth-century pilgrims to today’s refugees is a laughable idea. However, it is typical for those on the left to highlight early settlers in order to support taking in whatever new kind of migrant there is.

Besides being called refugees, the pilgrims have also been called illegal immigrants. But the “illegal” part gets tagged on from “stealing” the land from the natives… which, if the left wants to believe that, undermines the whole refugee thesis.

But the implication behind the word refugee is that indicates someone fleeing from danger to safety.

With that in mind, here’s five reasons why the Pilgrims were definitely not like today’s refugees.

They Were Pioneers

America was founded by people leaving the relative safety of Europe for the unknown perils of the new world, and the Pilgrims were no exception. While few nations accepted the strong Calvinist beliefs of the Pilgrims and the Puritans, these dissidents could still count on the benefit of civilization by remaining in Europe.

When they came to Plymouth, these settlers had to do the very difficult task of creating entirely new communities in a strange land — largely all by themselves. It’s hard to be a refugee claiming asylum when you’re crossing an ocean to a land that’s largely unsettled and is a more dangerous place than where you hail from. There was little refuge to be had in this untamed country for the Pilgrims — especially considering how many new arrivals died in the months upon hitting shore due to disease and other harsh living conditions. (RELATED: It’s ‘Un-American’ To Impose Refugee Resettlement On The Country)

For this reason, they were pioneers creating a society from the ground up rather than refugees coming to a well-established, prosperous society.

They Had No Government Assistance

This statement is an obvious fact when you consider the facts of life in seventeenth-century America. There was hardly any government, much less government assistance to be had. The Pilgrims also had to finance their passage to the new world with a Virginia Company loan that required them to work for seven years to pay off. The only real help they had from any form of government was the tacit permission to settle in English-claimed lands.

Today’s refugees are a different matter. The U.S. government pays for the flights of these migrants to come here. Even though there’s a stated requirement that the refugees must pay back the feds for the free ticket once they start working, 91 percent of these individuals go straight onto government assistance upon arrival — with 68 percent on welfare.

So the federal agencies paying for these trips may have to wait awhile for airfare compensation.

Hostile Natives Were All Around

While it’s true that the Pilgrims and their nearby co-settlers the Puritans initially had cordial relations with the Indian tribes, that goodwill didn’t last long. By 1636, the colonists were engaged in brutal warfare with the Pequot Confederation and eventually came into conflict the Wampanoag — the Indians who participated in the historical Thanksgiving feast — in the coming years.

Many Indians resented the newcomers for coming onto their land and were more than willing to slaughter any colonists who they saw as a threat.

Contrary to mainstream media hysteria, today’s refugees suffer a warm embrace from Americans who support them with tax funds and local amenities. Any verbal or physical attack on them can be treated as a hate crime and punished severely. Any American who might be worried by these new arrivals can face castigation by a biased media and powerful political leaders — such as our own president.

There were no New York Time editorials to bash the Pequot as nativist xenophobes for scalping Pilgrims back in the 1630s.

They Created Safe Communities

In spite of being surrounded by hostile natives and living with constant outbreaks of the plague, the Pilgrims and the Puritans were well-known for building communities defined by order, prosperity, hard work and thrift. Crime was not tolerated and resulted in harsh sentencing.

On the other hand, many refugee communities in the U.S. and Europe are defined by the opposite conditions. Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Little Mogadishu neighborhood — a top destination for Somali refugees — has become a hotbed for crime and radical Islam. From 2003 to 2013, the federal government had deported over a 1,000 refugees for violent crime convictions. (RELATED: America Already Has A Refugee Problem On Its Hands)

In Europe, several countries are experiencing a refugee crime wave that is stretching police thin and putting cities on edge.

They Were Christian

The Pilgrims were devout Calvinists who came to America to create model religious communities. Today’s refugees are primarily non-Christian, as can be ascertained by the top countries of origin for settled migrants from the year 2013.

This fact only becomes an important point when considering Syrian Christians. Many groups of people around the world are persecuted for their religion and/or ethnicity — and many of them are non-Christian. In Syria, though, the most persecuted group is arguably the Christian minority. Islamist rebels — not just ISIS — single them out for retribution, punitive taxes and even death merely for the faith they practice.

But even though this is a clearly persecuted group, America has hardly taken in any out of the nearly 3,000 Syrians we have resettled so far. Less than 3 percent of the migrants accepted by the U.S. are Christian, even though they comprise 10 percent of the Syrian population and most of the rebel factions are hostile towards them.

With these facts in mind, it’s hard to make any comparison with the Syrian refugees and the Calvinist Pilgrims. Life was much harder for the seventeenth century settlers, yet they still managed to plant the seeds for a future nation through their struggles.

Today, that nation that was forged by Pilgrims and other transplants from the British Isles is saying no to the idea of taking in more Syrian refugees.

Will our leaders finally listen to that call, or will they continue spouting the “Pligrims were refugees” line?

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