GOP Governors and Presidential Candidates Rush to Vilify Refugees
On Sunday, deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes appeared on "Meet the Press" to say that the administration will proceed with its plan to settle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. So far, the U.S. has accepted 1,500, a meager amount compared to countries in Europe.
Rhodes assured host Chuck Todd that the refugees will undergo comprehensive screening and noted that these people are not security threats, but orphans and families fleeing unimaginable horrors.
"We can’t just shut our doors to those people," Rhodes concluded. "We need to sort out how to focus on the terrorists that we need to keep out of the country. But I think we do need to do our part to take those refugees who are in need."
In a wholly unsurprising development, several Republican governors and the GOP presidential hopefuls strongly disagreed. On Sunday, Alabama Gov. Robert Bently took a valiant stand against traumatized orphans by pledging to fight any federal effort to settle refugees in the state. "I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way," he said in a statement. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder also said he would stop refugees from entering the state, reported NBC news. On Monday, the governors of Arkansas and Texas joined in, stating their opposition to relocating refugees in their states.
Meanwhile, GOP presidential hopefuls also took to the air on Sunday to fearmonger about displaced Syrians. Ben Carson displayed his usual public policy savvy by proposing to resettle the refugees "over there" (wherever that is). He also gave a helpful lecture on the relationship between frontal lobes and the refugee crisis.
Marco Rubio worried that there was no one to call in Syria.
“There’s no way to vet that out. There’s no background check system in the world that allows us to find that out because who do you call in Syria to background check them?” he said, according to the Guardian.
And Jeb Bush added a dose of direct Muslim-bashing to the mix, arguing that the U.S. should concentrate on helping Syrian Christians instead of Muslims from the region. Mike Huckabee also demonstrated Christian charity by demanding the U.S. shut its borders to immigrants from any country associated with terrorist groups.
As many commentators have pointed out, fear-based policy changes in the wake of a terror attack are pretty much the entire point of terrorism. As Paul Krugman writes, "The point is not to minimize the horror. It is, instead, to emphasize that the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire."