And keeping them out will not make us safer.
The GOP is wrong on this one. The president (and much of the left) is being his usual smug, patronizing self about it, but that’s nothing new. What’s new here is that he’s right on this and we need to be big enough to admit it.
This is not a time for fear-based populism. This is a time for American strength and courage. This is a time to recognize a risk, mitigate it, and then do the right damn thing anyway.
So far, to the best of our knowledge, all the identified Paris attackers have been EU nationals. Not refugees, but French and Belgian citizens. ISIS doesn’t need to sneak people in through a long, complicated vetting process. People that want to do harm have an easy enough time just looking like tourists. And, most importantly, let me repeat that most of the Paris attackers identified so far have been French citizens. The people planning attacks in the US are already here, and we can’t afford to pretend otherwise. That’s important. We know where the greatest danger lies, and focusing our energy and attention somewhere else is not only counterproductive, but it’s exactly what ISIS wants us to do.
It seems pretty likely that the Syrian passport found on one of the Paris attackers is a fake. But it gives us a great justification for cracking down on the refugees, doesn’t it? Isn’t it apparent that the terrorists are leading the West’s reaction exactly where they want it to go? Have we forgotten that that’s the purpose of terrorism? You don’t win a war by shooting civilians in a theater and a soccer field. But you can sure accomplish a lot if you can goad entire nations into acting the way you want them to.
There are literally millions of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. I’m not going to go in to the horrific conditions in Syria for the past few years, but it’s been described as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, and a very small amount of research makes that an easy claim to believe. We have a moral obligation to help the people fleeing it.
Is there a risk? Yes. Of course there is! Acknowledging the danger of terrorists slipping in with the refugees is just plain common sense. There is nothing racist or Islamophobic to recognize that risk, and the people on the left pretending there is nothing but racism behind the hesitation are being just as ridiculous as Trump. There is a real danger. We must do whatever we can to minimize that. But that is not reason enough to refuse to do the right thing.
No, we don’t restrict refugee status to Christians. The Christians are not the only ones starving in camps and being murdered for not supporting one side or the other. We certainly don’t start closing mosques. What an irresponsible, outrageous statement.
So we do the right thing. We have the biggest house on the block and the kids from down the street need a place to stay tonight because their parents are beating each other up.
We protect ourselves as best we can, but we don’t let fear stop us from doing what’s right.
We don’t do it to make nice with ISIS so they like us, we do it because it’s right.
We don’t do it to keep the Syrians from becoming angry and radicalized, we do it because it’s right.
The danger exists no matter what we do. The danger is here already. Keeping refugees out will not prevent an attack. This is much more a question of moral imperative than national security. So we take courage, and we do what’s right. And whether an attack comes or it doesn’t, those fleeing totalitarianism around the world will know that America is either a safe haven of liberty, or she is not.
Republicans. We are better than this. We must do what’s right.
Both sides need to stop the political BS here. The Republicans are supporting the wrong course of action, and that’s what I wanted to address. But as ridiculous as it is to make a demagogical, populist “Obama wants to let the bad guys in!” argument, it is equally ridiculous for President Obama to make a demagogical, populist “racist republicans are scared of widows and orphans!” argument. Pretending there is no risk is blind. But both sides are looking at millions of people forced from their homes by terrorists and thinking, “how can I use this to make people vote for me/my party?” America! We are better than this!
Alex Nowrasteh at Cato agrees with me, and has put together a detailed overview of the process a refugee goes through and why it’s not a likely avenue for ne’er-do-wells to sneak in. It has math.