I have been highly critical of Angela Merkel and other European leaders for opening the doors wide to refugees from the Middle East, mostly on the grounds that there is no way for Europe to settle and properly integrate that many people in such a short period of time, and that Europe is therefore setting itself up for long-term disaster. But I don’t admire the US governors for trying to slam the door to the relative handful of Syrian refugees (10,000) headed here.
To be sure, the liberals who are outraged at the governors are grating, for a reason that the liberal commentator Kevin Drum clearly grasps:
Here’s the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. We know that ISIS would like to attack the US. We know that ISIS probably has the wherewithal to infiltrate a few of its people into the flood of refugees. And most voters have no idea how easy it is to get past US screening. They probably figure it’s pretty easy.
So it doesn’t seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris.
Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?
This is true. Serious caution is absolutely necessary, but this move has about it the air of panicked opportunism. I may be wrong about this, but once the federal government has satisfied the governors’ legitimate concerns about proper security screening of these people, I expect the state leaders to stand up for these refugees. They are so few in number; this is nothing like what Europe is facing.
Besides, do we know how many of these refugees we’re taking in are Christian? A friend of mine, at his Orthodox Christian parish, has a Syrian family that is routinely asked by outsiders how long they have been converted to Christianity. “Uh, since around the time the Gospel was first preached at Antioch,” they say. The ignorance of many Americans about Christianity in the Middle East is astounding.