Actress Susan Sarandon visited the daytime talker The View on Monday to speak about her recent trip to the Greek island of Lesbos to assist with the Syrian refugee crisis — and blasted Americans for what she called the “xenophobic” dialogue surrounding the issue in the United States.
The actress, who recently penned an essay for the Huffington Post comparing Syrian refugees to Joseph and Mary on the road to the Inn at Bethlehem, began her segment by relating her grandfather’s own experience immigrating to the United States.
“My grandfather was 15 when he left Sicily because of the war and was a refugee. He came here. He made a life, made kids, the whole thing. He struggled. He contributed,” Sarandon told the co-hosts of The View.
And then I start hearing this fear-based, hate-based, xenophobic dialogue that’s going on in this country, you know, where we’ve taken these people and we’ve reduced them to a concept for political reasons. And I just thought, my God, you know, we’re better than this. This is not who we are. This is America, you know. This is the land of immigrants and refugees. So I thought, these people just don’t have a way to tell their stories. They don’t have a voice. Nobody knows who they are. Nobody knows why they’re there. What if I went over by myself, not affiliated with anybody so I could just go wherever it was happening.
Sarandon spent roughly a week on the island of Lesbos, assisting at least four different international organizations with the mounting Syrian refugee crisis. In her column last month, Sarandon wrote that she packed granola bars, blankets, socks and hand warmers to distribute to the newly arrived refugees. Lesbos has become a popular landing spot for those fleeing the war-torn country.
“There needs to be a conversation that’s on a moral level, not a political level, and there haven’t been terrorists that have come through as immigrants,” Sarandon said on The View. “Down the line, we’re going to look at this crisis and we’re going to say, ‘Where were we?’ This is going to be one of those historic… this is a moral moment. And what they want, all of them say, all they want is what we want.”
Sarandon isn’t the only actress to have assisted with incoming refugees in Lesbos; Homeland star Mandy Patinkin recently returned from a similar trip to the island.