Vetting Terrified Syrian Refugees
There's a sickening rush by cowardly/opportunistic politicians to demonize refugees-- fleeing for their lives from these ISIS monsters-- as, in Trump's words, "Trojan Horses" who will come here and murder us. Conservative governors-- mostly Republicans but putrid New Hampshire conservaDem Maggie Hassan as well-- have bravely barred refugees their states, which they have no power to do, while the presidential demagogues-- virtually all of them-- try to out-do each other on their ugly xenophobia. Dr. Ben claims it's impossible to vet them all, as false as any standard pronouncement from Dr. Ben. Trump, who now wants to shut down mosques in America, claims the 10,000 refugees President Obama wants to resettle here are actually "hundreds of thousands"-- no one can lie more grandly than Trump (what page is that on in the Art of the Deal?) and Ted Cruz, the child of immigrants (and, actually an immigrant himself who didn't get rid of his dual-citizen status until a few months ago), has already started writing legislation to reject immigrants. I know he's enmeshed in a fight with Rubio over who's more anti-immigrant and pro-domestic spying, but hope there's no clause in it to send the Statue of Liberty back to France.
Cruz, who has said that the United States should not allow Syrian Muslim refugees into the country but should provide safe haven to fleeing Christians, plans to introduce legislation that would bar Syrian refugees from entering the country... Cruz told CNN that it would bar Syrian Muslim refugees from entering the United States.
Jeb Bush has the same disgusting position as Cruz, to allow Christians in but not Muslims. And Texas GOP congressional sociopath, Bruce Babin just wants to ban everyone. Maybe he wants to be a GOP VP contender. Even Rand Paul, who usually has the sense to stay clear of this kind of bullshit and demagoguery over foreign policy, has waded right into it, introducing legislation to block visas for Syrian refugees.
Monday night Chris Hayes had Eleanor Acer, senior director of Refugee Protection at Human Rights First, as a guest on his show. The interview is on the video up top. Too bad Fox and the other TV stations practicing the kind of yellow journalism that would have made William Randolph Hurst proud, didn't invite her as well. No doubt Peter King is more up their alley. You can watch his appearance on Morning Joe here:
King represents a part of Long Island where I grew up, an area filled with the descendants of Jewish refugees from war-torn Europe, many of whose antecedents were fleeing genocidal Nazis in Germany and genocidal Czars in Russia. And many, if not most of whom, had family members who were turned away by... bigoted, self-serving politicians like Peter King, Maggie Hassan and the now nearly 30 shameful conservative governors, empowered by... the same kind of public opinion then that has been created to drive this now. This comes from an issue of Fortune Magazine in 1938:
There have been 750,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since 9/11. Guess how many of them turned out to be terrorists? Despite a barrage of lies by slime-buckets like Peter King and Donald Trump, not a single one. (Suggestion: help get rid of Peter King by supporting progressive Suffolk County legislator DuWayne Gregory; you can do it here.) Two-thirds of Americans polled just after Kristallnacht opposed taking in 10,000 German Jewish refugee children. They were not just the Trumps, Huckabees, Cruzes, Vitters, Carsons, Bushes, Hassans, Christies, Kasichs, Brownbacks, Feinsteins, Kings. Do you believe in God? He was watching, weeping...
In Tennessee-- a state with more than a few problems the Republican Party vision has caused, or made worse-- the chairman of the House Republican Caucus, Glen Casada, said "We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can... I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks... We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, 'They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.'" The Public Religion Research Institute has a new poll out this week shows Islamophobia has been getting stronger in America, even before the Paris attacks, obviously among Republicans in a big way but even among Democrats.
Trump supporters are much more likely to express negative views of immigrants than the supporters of other candidates. Eight in ten (80%) Trump supporters say that immigrants today are a burden to the U.S. because they take American jobs, housing, and health care. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Trump supporters say that it bothers them when they come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English. Supporters of other Republican candidates also view immigrants negatively, but somewhat less so—a majority (56%) say that immigrants are a burden on the U.S. due to their economic impact and a similar number (58%) report that coming into contact with immigrants who do not speak English bothers them.Chicken/egg situation? Are the politicians leading the public down the rabbit hole of fear, hatred and bigotry or are the politicians just following along the mob, maybe trying to get in front of it? Michael Gerson had a good OpEd at the Washington Post yesterday talking about the consequences of having a political elite as craven as our own.
All our efforts are undermined by declaring Islam itself to be the enemy, and by treating Muslims in the United States, or Muslims in Europe, or Muslims fleeing Islamic State oppression, as a class of suspicious potential jihadists. Instead of blaming refugees, we need to make sure our counterterrorism and intelligence policies give us a chance to screen and stop any threat (which means keeping the post-9/11 structures of surveillance in place). But if U.S. politicians define Islam as the problem and cast aspersions on Muslim populations in the West, they are feeding the Islamic State narrative. They are materially undermining the war against terrorism and complicating the United States’ (already complicated) task in the Middle East. Rejecting a blanket condemnation of Islam is not a matter of political correctness. It is the requirement of an effective war against terrorism, which means an effective war against the terrorist kingdom in Syria and western Iraq.Let me leave you with five voices-- there are plenty of others, of course-- of sanity during this panicky situation, even above and beyond the principled stand President Obama has taken. Bernie, early yesterday: "I am disturbed by some of what I am hearing from my Republican colleagues, and I will just say this: During these difficult times, as Americans we will not succumb to racism. We will not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia,” Sanders said. “We will not turn our backs on the refugees."
And Colin Van Ostern, the progressive running to succeed that horrible Maggie Hassan as governor of New Hampshire took a bold, courageous step in standing up to the knee-jerk tendency political cowards have to just give in to the terrorists (like all the Republicans and certain types of Democrats like Dianne Feinstein, Tulsi Gabbard and New Hampshire's own Maggie Hassan. This, in part, is the statement he made to New Hampshire voters yesterday:
As Governor, keeping the people of New Hampshire safe will always be my highest priority.The progressive running to replace Tammy Duckworth in IL-08, state Senator Mike Noland was mortified that Illinois' governor, Bruce Rauner, announced that he would try to stop Syrian refugees from finding shelter in Illinois. "I was beyond disappointed to learn that Governor Rauner is trying to close Illinois to refugees from the crisis in Syria.These refugees are simply fleeing a war torn homeland seeking a better life for themselves and their children. God forbid they should also have the opportunity to live the American Dream. Governor Rauner's decision is shortsighted. He is letting fear, xenophobia, and Islamphobia cloud his judgement while trying to score cheap political points oblivious to the long term consequences of his actions. This is an opportunity for our state and our people to show compassion and to offer hope to those facing some of the harshest conditions in the world. I hope that the Governor will reconsider this and decide to govern with hope instead of fear." And this is what Elizabeth Warren had to say yesterday on the Senate floor. The second half is especially electrifying. It's a lot different than what that hideous embarrassment-of-a-Democrat Chuck Schumer said yesterday:
Six days ago-- 48 hours before the terrorism in Paris-- I stood in a Manchester living room taking questions at a house party, and a young student asked me whether I support allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.
My answer was straightforward: offering safe refuge to those fleeing oppression is part of what it means to be an American. When carried out carefully with deep, extensive security screenings that protect our homeland without banning an entire religion or nationality, we are a stronger nation because of it. It’s why the Statue of Liberty holds her torch high in the night, as a beacon of hope.
ISIS tried to extinguish that hope Friday night in Paris. Make no mistake: this terrorist organization wants the world to hate and fear the refugees they are driving from their homes in Syria.
The best way to protect the security and liberty of the people of New Hampshire is through expanding the extensive person-by-person security and safety screening process that the United States requires today for every refugee-- not by adopting a new blanket ban against one nationality or religion that plays into the hands of the ISIS terrorists while giving us a false sense of security.
As Senator Shaheen has pointed out, our nation’s deep asylum vetting process can sometimes take up to two years-- much different than some European nations that are struggling with overwhelmed borders and inadequate screening of refugees today. This is a complex threat-- in many cases, carried out by various terrorists who are nationals of friendly and dangerous nations alike. It requires complex, thorough, and thoughtful safety and security measures – as well as an assertive campaign to end a global threat that has clearly not been contained.
Donna Edwards, the progressive Maryland congresswoman, running for her state's open Senate seat, was not pleased when Maryland's Republican governor, Larry Hogan, right out of the hospital after cancer treatment (but without the heightened sense of empathy that kind of brush with death usually leaves people), told Obama he didn't want any Syrian refugees in his state. "Governor Hogan’s refusal to resettle Syrian refugees fleeing from violence," said Donna, "is against the values we hold dear as Marylanders and as Americans. Throughout our history, we have opened our doors to those fleeing war and political persecution. We are a nation of immigrants, as more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island’s doors between 1892 - 1954. At the end of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of refugees attempted to flee Southeast Asia and the United States accepted and resettled more than 800,000 of them. And since 1980, we have resettled millions of refugees, including well over 1 million from the Middle East, and there has not been a single recorded terrorist attack in the U.S. committed by refugees.
"In the 18th and 19th centuries, Baltimore helped resettle refugees fleeing the French-Indian War and the French and Haitian Revolutions. And during the Second World War, even though six out of ten Americans opposed resettling Jewish refugees fleeing concentration camps, our political leaders found the will to do what was right. Our country and state were stronger for it then, and are stronger for it now.
"Governor Hogan should draw from our history, and summon the will to open our state’s doors once more to those in search of safety and peace."
And in answer to the hypocrites and bigots like Cruz and Huckabee claiming that Christians should be admitted but not Muslims or Jews, let's wander back to the early 1960s when many of these politicians were children and listen to a Bob Dylan ditty of the day that talked about what happens to people when they think their version of God is on their side.