[Content Note: Islamophobia; xenophobia; racism; terrorism.]
The Republican presidential candidates are going all in on Islamophobic bigotry. Their contemptible hostility toward refugees in search of safety is, of course, unsurprising—but it is appallingly ragemaking all the same.
Jeb Bush: "There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They'll be either executed or imprisoned, either by Assad or by ISIS. And I think we should have—we should focus our efforts as it relates to the Christians that are being slaughtered. ...This also calls to mind the need to protect our borders, our southern border particularly. This is a threat against Western civilization, and we need to lead. The United States has pulled back and when we pull back, voids are filled. And they're filled now by Islamic terrorism that threatens our country."
Bush ignores that Muslims have been the primary targets and victims of IS, that many Muslims have been slaughtered. He sets this up as a battle of civilizations (nope), and then implicitly accuses President Obama for "pulling back" and creating the void in which IS has flourished, even though Obama pulled out of Iraq on a timetable set by Bush's own brother, whose disastrous foreign policy adventures are actually responsible for creating that void. Bush has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Ben Carson: [video may autoplay at link] "Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is calling on Congress to withdraw funding to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States, arguing in the wake of the Paris attacks that there is no credible way to tell the difference between an Islamic State militant and an innocent citizen fleeing war. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Carson urged congressional Republicans to 'extinguish' Syrian resettlement programs, saying the United States 'cannot, should not and must not accept any Syrian refugees.'"
Carson conflates Muslim terrorists with the entire Muslim population, despite the fact that the majority of people fleeing and seeking refuge are Muslims. He uses inflammatory, eliminationist language—"extinguish"—to draw a unilateral line against extending a safe haven to the people who have most suffered under IS' terroristic campaigns. Carson has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Chris Christie: "I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are supposed to be coming in in order to protect the safety and security of the American people, so I would not permit them in. ...The fact is that we need for appropriate vetting, and I don't think that orphans under 5 should be admitted to the United States at this point."
Christie asserts that there are definitely terrorists among the refugees, despite the fact that 750,000 refugees have come to the US since 9/11, and not a single one has been arrested on charges of domestic terrorism. He is so serious about the scourge of terrorism that he would deny refuge to a tiny child who has been orphaned by terrorism. Christie has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Ted Cruz: "What Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are proposing is that we bring to this country tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees. I have to say particularly in light of what happened in Paris, that's nothing short of lunacy." Cruz says "he plans to introduce legislation that would ban Muslim Syrian refugees from entering the U.S."
Cruz, whose father was a Cuban refugee who fled his home's repressive Communist regime, thinks it is "lunacy" to extend refuge to Muslims, providing to them the same safety that was provided to his father by the country he wants to lead. Cruz has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Carly Fiorina: [video may autoplay at link] Fiorina accused President Obama "of accepting refugees 'unilaterally' and not pledging to verify that they have no ties to terrorism."
Fiorina evidently believes that terrorists are deceitful enough to disguise themselves as refugees to obtain entry into the US, but won't lie if asked the pledge they have no ties to terrorism. And implies that President Obama is a fool. Fiorina has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Jim Gilmore: "I think that the Paris attacks are basically the 9/11 for France. It should be bringing to the forefront of the American people that we are at war, that we're still in danger, that if anything things have deteriorated under this administration." He also warned: "Paris, ladies and gentlemen, is only the beginning."
Paris is "only the beginning" if one ignores that refugees from Syria and elsewhere have been suffering under a sustained nightmare of these sorts of attacks for years. Which is why there is a refugee crisis in the first place. Gilmore has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Lindsey Graham: "The one thing I've learned from Paris is that we need to have a timeout on bringing refugees into this country until we have a system that we think will work. So I'm calling for a timeout on Syrian refugees." Our system is working. 750,000 refugees since 9/11. Zero arrests for domestic terrorism. That sounds like a system which is working. Graham has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Mike Huckabee: Always the worst clown in the clown car, Huckabee has engaged in rank racist rhetoric—"It's time to wake up and smell the falafel. We are importing terrorism."—and has spoken about refugees like they are, perhaps, confused elderly lapdogs—"And if you think about it, we would be bringing people in who lived in the desert their entire lives, and they would be completely disrupted, not only in terms of their culture, their language, their religion, my gosh even in terms of their climate. Can you imagine bringing in a bunch of Syrian refugees who've lived in the desert their whole lives that are suddenly thrown into an English speaking community? Where it's maybe in Minnesota where it is 20 degrees below zero? I mean just I don't understand what we possibly can be thinking."—and has called on newly elected Republican Speaker Paul Ryan to step down if he "will not lead and reject the importation of those fleeing the Middle East without assurances that we can separate refugees from terrorists."
Huckabee has also criticized President Obama, saying: "It's embarrassing when a left-wing socialist French President shows strength and determination to eradicate animals who are slaughtering innocent civilians while our President lectures us on the moral necessity to open our borders to tens of thousands of un-vetted people from the Middle East." Only the French people are "innocent civilians" in Huckabee's calculation. The refugees are innocent civilians, but Huckabee classifies them as "un-vetted people from the Middle East." Huckabee has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Bobby Jindal: Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, has "issued an executive order Monday (Nov. 16) to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Louisiana. He cited Friday's terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris and injured hundreds more." This is not legal.
Jindal has argued: "Simply allowing more people into our country doesn't solve [the problem of IS]." No, it does not. But it does save those people's lives. Jindal has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
John Kasich: Kasich, the governor of Ohio, has also sought to seek barring refugees from settlement in his state. "The governor doesn't believe the U.S. should accept additional Syrian refugees because security and safety issues cannot be adequately addressed," Kasich spokesman Jim Lynch said in a statement. "The governor is writing to the President to ask him to stop, and to ask him to stop resettling them in Ohio. We are also looking at what additional steps Ohio can take to stop resettlement of these refugees."
Kasich did not stop there. He also believes "we better be careful about looking at Americans that have traveled—Americans themselves who have traveled back and forth." Kasich has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
George Pataki: "There's zero ability to vet those refugees [and] we know some of them are terrorists. We take 10,000 refugees into this country, if one in 1,000 is a terrorist, that means 10 of them are coming here to engage in terrorist activity and kill Americans. What are we going to do? Call up the Syrian government and say, 'hey, by the way, is this guy a terrorist?' We have got to stop taking refugees until there is in fact a vetting process that lets us know that they're coming here not to harm us."
Pataki is full of shit. We have a successful refugee program now that does not suggest in any way that "one in 1,000" refugees "is a terrorist." Further, I understand that there is a possibility a terrorist may infiltrate the refugee population, and I understand that slightly increases my risk for death at the hands of a terrorist. (But does not meaningfully increase my risk for harm from a number of other sources, including an angry man with a grievance and a gun, on any given day.) I am willing to accept that minimal increase of risk in order to substantially decrease the risk for the vast majority of refugees. As should we all. Pataki has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Rand Paul: [video may autoplay at link] Paul has said he will propose legislation "to halt visas from all countries with 'significant jihadist movements' in light of Friday night's terror attacks in Paris for which Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility. 'The best way to defend the country from attackers that don't really have an army, but come here as individuals, is to prevent their access into this country,' Paul told reporters on Monday. 'It is about time, and I think Paris should wake us up to the fact that we can't just let anyone come to this country,' he added. ...'In order to be safe, in order to be secure, we cant just say, 'Hey we've got an open door and we're going to take people form the Middle East,'' he said."
Paul ignores the fact that it is people from countries with "significant jihadist movements" who are most in need of refuge. Paul has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Marco Rubio: "After saying earlier that he would be open to the idea of allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S., Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Sunday that 'we won't be able to take more refugees' in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. 'It's not that we don't want to,' Rubio said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. 'It's that we can't.'"
Rubio is full of shit. We can and we should. Rubio has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Rick Santorum: [video may autoplay at link] Santorum "insisted there is no way to determine who the refugees are and what their intentions will be when they arrive. 'We have our own Homeland Security Department telling us that we cannot properly vet people from this region. We don't know who they are. In many cases, they don't have documents. Again, look at the reality that 70 percent of the people leaving Syria are military age men. This is not your typical refugee flow. This is something very different going on. Are there real refugees? Of course there are. Are there people that are not going to harm the United States? Of course there are. But we don't know who they are."
Santorum is peddling complete codswallop: "Our emphasis is on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians—particularly survivors of violence and torture, those with severe medical conditions, and women and children—in a manner that is consistent with U.S. national security," a State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "Military-aged males unattached to families comprise only approximately two percent of Syrian refugee admissions to date." Santorum has zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
Donald Trump: "Mr. Trump also once again used an epithet to describe how swiftly and forcefully he would bomb the Islamic State strongholds, a line he first uttered in Iowa last week. It was met with slightly less gusto there. Mr. Trump on Monday denounced the 'animals' who perpetrated the attacks in France. He questioned why so many of the refugees fleeing into Europe are men, who aren't 'back fighting for their country.' 'Is this a Trojan horse?' he said. 'We all know the story of the Trojan horse.'"
Trump is a human nightmare with zero compassion, decency, or integrity.
This, then, is your "party of moral values," your party of "Real Americans," your party of big ideas and big tents, your party of "compassionate conservatives." Not a single damn one of them is willing to open the door to refugees who are fleeing for their lives from terrorists, because they are convinced those refugees are themselves terrorists. They use alarmism and lies to generate resistance to helping refugees, which will put those refugees at higher risk when they do arrive—which they will, because we have a President who isn't a heartless piece of shit.
Within weeks, these candidates will gather around a table with their families, celebrating a whitewashed fairy tale about the Native Americans who opened their hearts to white settlers and welcomed them with food and drink and camaraderie. Weeks after that, they will gather with their families to celebrate a holiday marking the birth of their savior, whose Middle Eastern parents were turned away and his mother forced to birth him in a manger surrounded by animals.
And none of them will pause for a moment to appreciate the irony on either day.
There's no room for introspection when you're busy celebrating what Good All-American Christians you are.