Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post writes that the Republican governors who want to ban Syrian refugees have the right idea, at least in terms of politics.
Over the past 24 hours, almost half of the nation’s governors — all but one of them Republicans — have said they plan to refuse to allow Syrian immigrants into their states in the wake of the Paris attacks carried out by the Islamic State (no matter that they can’t really do that). Ted Cruz, a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has announced plans to introduce legislation in the Senate that would bar all Muslim Syrian refugees from entering America.
That stance has been greeted with widespread ridicule and disgust by Democrats who insist that keeping people out of the U.S. is anathema to the founding principles of the country. “That’s shameful,” President Obama said in a speech addressing the Paris attacks on Monday. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Think what you will, but one thing is clear: The political upside for Republican politicians pushing an immigration ban on Syrians and/or Muslims as a broader response to the threat posed by the Islamic State sure looks like a political winner.
He cites a variety of polls that show the public is with them on this, and if you are thinking strictly along those lines, he’s probably right: Americans are by and large reactionary and as I’ve noted many times before, no one ever lost an election by exploiting the greed, fear, and paranoia of the American electorate. We also know that a large segment of the American voting population believes the world was formed 6,000 years ago, that dinosaurs co-existed with humans, and that if you pull the tag off a mattress you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones warns Democrats against mocking the Republicans for yet again appealing to the worst part of our nature.
The liberal response to this should be far more measured. We should support tight screening. Never mind that screening is already pretty tight. We should highlight the fact that we’re accepting a pretty modest number of refugees. In general, we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about and then work from there.
Mocking it is the worst thing we could do. It validates all the worst stereotypes about liberals that we put political correctness ahead of national security. It doesn’t matter if that’s right or wrong. Ordinary people see the refugees as a common sense thing to be concerned about. We shouldn’t respond by essentially calling them idiots. That way lies electoral disaster.
It’s not a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of both humanity and reality. No one has yet to prove that anyone involved in the attacks in Paris was a Syrian refugee. In fact, the attack by ISIS was because the French have been taking in refugees; are we going to give in to the blackmail and not take the people fleeing ISIS?
This may be a losing argument politically, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s better to alienate voters who would support the cowards and bed-wetters than have them on our side.