Republicans Play Ugly Politics With Refugees
There is no more valuable read for me with a news weekly than what is printed at The Economist. Thoughtful and factual. Their Democracy In America column this week adds meat to the slurs about refugees that our nation’s Republican governors have been prattling on about for political purposes.
The governors’ and presidential contenders’ reaction is opportunistic and counterproductive. They see the tragedy as an opportunity to look prudent and protective of their citizens while ignoring the fact that since the 1980s not a single refugee, who has gone through the refugee-resettlement process, has committed a terrorist act in America (the Boston bombers were asylum seekers). So they are in fact “protecting” their citizens from a threat that barely exists. It is much easier for a foreign terrorist to come to America on a student or tourist visa, as the 9/11 hijackers have done, than to go through the year-long vetting process in refugee camps. At the same time, they are sending a hostile signal to all Muslims in the Middle East at a time when America and France need them more than ever to fight ISIS.
In marked contrast to the GOP candidates, the Democratic contenders for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, all reaffirmed that they are in favour of taking Syrians in. Ms Clinton and Mr Sanders even want to increase the number of refugees from 10,000 to 65,000, which is still a tiny number considering the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who arrived in Germany this year, let alone the several millions camped out in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. “Now is not the time for demagoguery and fear-mongering,” said Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, last night. “We will do what we do best and that is be Americans: fighting racism, fighting xenophobia, fighting fear.” A deep partisan division about what it is to be American seems to have emerged in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.