Thursday, November 19, 2015

Republicans Playing to the Terrorists' Script

Passengers aboard the "St. Louis." These refugees from Nazi Germany were forced to return to Europe
While cooler heads argue logic, reason and deliberate screening efforts should prevail in processing refugees fleeing violence in their home countries, many in the Republican Party are doing exactly what ISIS wants and needs for its propaganda efforts.  From John Kasich's idiotic calls for a government agency to promote "Judeo-Christian" values, to Ted Cruz and others' calls to only accept Christian refugees, to efforts to claim that the Koran calls for death and murder while ignoring the horrors advocated in the Old Testament, the Paris attacks are being used to turn the struggle against ISIS into a war of religions.  That, of course is precisely what ISIS wants and needs as a recruiting and propaganda tool.   Sadly, the Republicans eager to prostitute themselves to the ugly, ignorant and extremist elements of the GOP base either do not care about the damage they are doing or are too stupid to grasp it.  A column in the New York Times looks at the sickening conduct and the farce it makes of supposed support of the Gospel message.  Here are excerpts:

Desperate refugees flee persecution and war, but American politicians — worried about security risks — refuse to accept them.
That’s the situation today, but it’s also the shameful way we responded as Jews were fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In the shadow of one world war, on the eve of another, Americans feared that European Jews might be left-wing security threats.

[I]n January 1939, Americans polled said by a two-to-one majority that the United States should not accept 10,000 mostly Jewish refugee children from Germany. That year, the United States turned away a ship, the St. Louis, with Jewish refugee children; the St. Louis returned to Europe, where some of its passengers [some estimates say half] were murdered by the Nazis.

All the Republican presidential candidates say that we should bar Syrian refugees or apply a religious test and accept only Christians.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey says we shouldn’t accept Syrians even if they are toddlers and orphans. And the House of Representatives may vote this week on legislation to impede the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Remember what a Syrian immigrant looks like — the father of Steve Jobs.  

Yes, security is critical, but I’ve known people who have gone through the refugee vetting process, and it’s a painstaking ordeal that lasts two years or more. It’s incomparably more rigorous than other pathways to the United States.

If the Islamic State wanted to dispatch a terrorist to America, it wouldn’t ask a mole to apply for refugee status, but rather to apply for a student visa to study at, say, Indiana University. Hey, governors, are you going to keep out foreign university students?

Or the Islamic State could simply send fighters who are French or Belgian citizens (like some of those behind the Paris attacks) to the U.S. as tourists, no visa required. Governors, are you planning to ban foreign tourists, too?

If Republican governors are concerned about security risks, maybe they should vet who can buy guns. People on terrorism watch lists are legally allowed to buy guns in the United States, and more than 2,000 have done so since 2004. The National Rifle Association has opposed legislation to rectify this.

The Islamic State is trying to create a religious divide and an anti-refugee backlash, so that Muslims will feel alienated and turn to extremism. If so, American and European politicians are following the Islamic State’s script.  Let’s be careful not to follow that script further and stigmatize all Muslims for ISIS terrorism.

The top priority must be making Syria habitable so that refugees need not flee.  

Helping Syrian refugees today doesn’t solve the Middle East mess any more than helping Jewish refugees in 1939 would have toppled Hitler. But it’s the right thing to do. Syrians, no less than those Jewish refugees, no less than my father, are human beings needing help, not flotsam.
Sadly, to much of the GOP base, if one is not a white, heterosexual, conservative Christian, you are flotsam - flotsam to be discarded and deprived of rights and compassion.  So much for  heeding the Gospel message of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless and treating others as you would want to be treated.  Thankfully, the younger generations see this hypocrisy and are walking away from religion.

No comments: