The White House is trying once more to harness “the power of hashtag” to sway Americans on the need to accept Syrian refugees.
Former State Department spokesman Jen Psaki infamously called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to honor “the promise of hashtag” in April 2014 as the Obama administration pushed #UnitedForUkraine. The White House is now making a social-media blitz with #RefugeesWelcome as the plight of Syrian migrants captures national headlines.
At least 15 state governors have said they will not accept Syrian refugees since last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, France. Legislation to halt funding for Obama’s Syrian resettlement program is being drafted by 15 House Republicans, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will introduce a similar bill in the Senate, WND reported.
“Even as we intensify our efforts in coordination with our partners to take out ISIL, we cannot turn our backs on those most threatened by the terrorist group. The refugees that have captivated so much attention in the wake of Friday’s attack are fleeing precisely the type of senseless slaughter that occurred in Paris,” the White House said on its official Facebook page late Tuesday.
Obama’s stated goal is for the U.S. to absorb 10,000 Syrians in 2016 and up to 100,000 from any country by the end of 2017.
“In consultation with Congress, we will continue to explore ways to increase those figures while maintaining robust security. The need is enormous, but we are determined to answer the call,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference after meeting German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Sept. 21, NPR reported.
Amy Pope, deputy assistant to the president for homeland security, took to the White House website on Tuesday to rip Republicans’ objections to the upcoming flood of migrants.
“In the days since the attack on Paris some have taken the narrow view that protecting Americans from ISIL mandates that we turn our back on those most at risk to the terrorist group – the men, women and children forced to flee their homes and families, their schools and communities,” Pope said. “The administration rejects the flawed view that we can’t ensure our own safety while also welcoming refugees desperately seeking their own safety. The truth is: America can and must do both.”
In addition to a social media blitz for #UnitedForUkraine, which failed to deter Russia from fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, the White House also embraced #BringBackOurGirls in May 2014. Members of the Islamic terror organization Boko Haram kidnapped more than 2,000 women and schoolgirls in northeastern Nigeria over the course of one year. The victims were sold into sex slavery and forced into marriage with Islamic fighters.
“Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It’s time to #BringBackOurGirls,” Michelle Obama tweeted May 7, 2014.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown lamented the hashtag’s impotency one month later.
“As the world’s attention shifts to other global trouble spots, such as Iraq, intense international scrutiny is giving way to what seems like silent acceptance of the girls’ fate,” Brown wrote for the newspaper Project Syndicate June 15, 2014.
A USA Today editorial concurred Aug. 7, 2014, saying, “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that #BringBackOurGirls hasn’t actually brought the girls back. It is just the latest international social media campaign to fail.