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Syrian Refugees Are Not The Enemy

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.

UPDATE:

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!

UPDATE:

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.

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Stand Up For Freedom Tomorrow

Tomorrow, starting at 12 noon in every time zone, in 160 cities (and counting) across America, there will be major rallies in support of religious freedom, about which you may not hear a peep from the mainstream media.

The movement is a massive, nationwide, concerted protest against the new HHS mandate, which is a regulation contained within Obamacare. If you haven’t heard yet of this mandate, it’s a requirement placed upon all employers, including religious groups, to pay for their employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance coverage. There are very narrow exemptions that would not exclude religious schools, hospitals, or charities.

So a non-profit Catholic hospital, under this mandate, is faced with the choice of either paying for contraception for its employees, in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching, or simply closing its doors.

If you think this doesn’t matter because you’re not Catholic, or not Christian, or not even religious, keep reading.

This is not an issue that only affects Christians. This is an issue of freedom of conscience for every single American.

I defer to the clear and succinct summary at stophhs.com:

The HHS Mandate violates the United States Constitution and statutory law.  The HHS Mandate violates the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech – both guaranteed under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  It also violates, among other laws, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The HHS Mandate isn’t simply a Catholic issue.  This is an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.  The HHS Mandate allows the government to define whether an organization is religious enough and leads the way toward redefining religious liberty as freedom to worship.  As Americans, our Frist Amendment Right to the Free Exercise of Religion is much more than the right to worship privately in a church building or pray in our homes.  Our right allows us, as Americans, to live our faith publicly through our religious ministries and to serve others precisely because of our religious beliefs.  The HHS Mandate dictates that religious employers can only employ their own and serve their own or be forced out of ministry due to hefty fines. (emphasis added)

This goes far beyond the issue of contraception. Ask yourself what the role of government is in this case. Should the federal government be dictating to every employer every detail of every benefit package offered to every employee? If you accept that, should the government be able to tell a faith-based school that they must provide their employees with something that violates the tenets of their faith? Does free exercise of religion mean nothing?

Should the government tell a vegetarian business owner that he must provide lunch for his staff, and it must contain meat?

This is a dangerous intrusion into the rights of each of us to follow our own conscience. Dangerous in itself, and dangerous for what it would mean for our rights in the future.

Today’s attack is against the rights of Catholic organizations. Forgetting tomorrow’s dangers for a minute, let’s think about that danger. The Catholic school system is the largest private school system in America. 2.5 million students are educated at thousands of Catholic schools across the country. Catholic high schools have a 99% (!) graduation rate and save the taxpayer over $19 billion a year, as they are funded by tuition, donations, and their local parishes. There are 221 Catholic colleges and universities in America, 615 Catholic hospitals (12.5% of the nation’s hospitals), and 1600 local charitable agencies including food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.

The HHS mandate threatens to shut them all down.

Who is on the right side here?

So go to standupforreligiousfreedom.com. Find your nearest rally tomorrow and GO. Tell your friends.

Stand up.

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Welcome

My wife and I were talking about political conversation a couple of weeks ago.  She observed that political conversations, regardless of where they begin, often end up in the same place—a re-hashing of the same ideas, or, repetitive laments on how the opposition is ruining things.

If this is generally true for political conversations, it’s especially true for political arguments.  Debates are sparked by current events, about which people can, and sometimes they even do, have real conversations in which they listen and respond to others.  Soon, however, that spark ignites a flame of ideology.  Often, people then end up running quickly from the cool, rational debate into fiery shouting matches.

So this all got me to thinking about the fact that, as far as I can tell, many people never bother to actually understand most others’ positions.  I might be generous in assuming that people even care why other people believe what they do, but that’s another matter.  I was recently accused of being a “blind fool” for my conservative beliefs.  Modesty aside, I think I’m more informed than most, and I have rational reasons for everything I believe.  I’m not saying I’m never a fool (nobody’s right all the time), but I’m certainly not the type to simply agree with those around me without thinking or reason.  If I were, I never would have held on to my political ideals through four years at a state college and three years in Los Angeles.  I held on to them because, after listening to both sides of the argument, the conservative solutions generally made more sense to me.

In my experience, both conservatives and liberals can be patriotic, selfless, thoughtful, and logical.  Both camps—despite what each says about the other—want what’s best for us all, including (and specifically), a better life for the poor.  And I mean it when I say both can think logically and rationally, though some individuals on either side may demonstrate this skill better than others.  The problem, and where people close their ears and start locking antlers, is that we start with vastly different premises.  Most of us can agree that 2 + 2 = 4, certainly, but if I’m adding 3 and 6 when you think I’m adding 2 and 5, and vice versa, we each reasonably think that the other is an idiot for coming to a different conclusion.  And we almost never talk about the premises.  They’re the source of the disagreement, and they get woefully overlooked.  People don’t talk about the deep, theoretical differences.  We liken each other to Hitler and Stalin and make commercials saying the other party wants to KILL YOUR GRANDMA!  Righteous anger is so satisfying.

But this doesn’t get us anywhere.  This, in fact, sucks.

Hence, this blog.  I want you to know my reasoning, starting from first principles.  My conservative manifesto, if you will.  I want to help people understand why conservative solutions really make the most sense.  It’s my hope that even those who disagree with me will at least, seeing my reasoning, understand it and know that it exists; and know that, though we disagree on the means, we all want a better world for everyone.

Well, deep down, it’s my hope that those who disagree with me will read this and say, “Holy crap, I’ve been wrong all these years, I’m actually a conservative,” but I’ll take what I can get.

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