Editorial boards and pundits in big cities and small towns alike are calling out the
[I]t’s pretty hard to find anyone on that side of the aisle, even among seemingly respectable voices, showing the slightest hint of perspective. [...] But we shouldn’t really be surprised, because we’ve seen this movie before (unless we were too scared to go to the theater). Remember the great Ebola scare of 2014? The threat of a pandemic, like the threat of a terrorist attack, was real. But it was greatly exaggerated, thanks in large part to hype from the same people now hyping the terrorist danger.
What’s more, the supposed “solutions” were similar, too, in their combination of cruelty and stupidity. Does anyone remember Mr. Trump declaring that “the plague will start and spread” in America unless we immediately stopped all plane flights from infected countries? Or the fact that Mitt Romney took a similar position? As it turned out, public health officials knew what they were doing, and Ebola quickly came under control — but it’s unlikely that anyone on the right learned from the experience.
What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.
For the record, Syrian refugees are not “pouring” into the United States. There’s hardly even a trickle: Since the civil war began, slightly more than 2,000 refugees have been admitted. Compare our meager total with the estimated 2 million Syrians taking refuge in Turkey or the hundreds of thousands flooding into Europe. Boosting the number to 10,000 over the next year, as Obama plans, would still mean that the U.S. contribution to alleviating one of the worst refugee crises since World War II doesn’t amount to a drop in the bucket. I could describe in detail the lengthy pre-entry vetting process, which can take up to two years, but why bother? As far as the GOP field is concerned, generosity of spirit is for losers.
The Washington Post:
UNBURDENED BY facts and seduced by a swelling hysteria after the carnage last week in Paris, Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke called Wednesday on local resettlement agencies to spurn any Syrian refugees who might be placed in his region. As rationale, he cited President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order after Pearl Harbor to imprison Japanese Americans, most of them citizens, a disgraceful episode for which President Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1988 formally apologizing and authorizing cash payments to surviving victims.
[...] In one sense, Mr. Bowers was absolutely right in comparing Japanese Americans during World War II with Syrian refugees today: The frenzy directed against them arises from “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” That language is in the bill passed by Congress in 1988 apologizing to Japanese Americans. It is depressing to imagine a generation from now children asking the same question about yet another chapter in U.S. history: How could that possibly have happened here?
The Cincinnati Enquirer:
The selective nature of the proposed moratorium – targeting refugees from only one country – is also troubling because there’s no confirmed, direct link between Syrian refugees and the Paris attacks. All the suspects identified so far hailed from France or Belgium. The call to block Syrian refugees is being made despite the evidence, not because of it. [...]
Our refugee resettlement program – yes, even for Syrians – represents a core American value, one that reflects and continues our identity as a melting pot. We are a country founded and fueled by immigrants. We are a nation powered by the proposition that we value oppressed people – of all colors and creeds – who seek shelter.
The Modesto Bee:
History will remember those who bullied and those who had the political courage to open our doors.
The Morning Sentinel in Maine:
The process has proven secure. Since 9/11, more than 780,000 refugees have entered the United States, with little impact on security.
More than 2,000 of those refugees have come from Syria — half of whom were children, and only 2 percent of whom were males of “combat age” — again, with little effect on safety.
The United States certainly can take in more refugees while maintaining security. In fact, to earn its moral standing in the world, and to defeat extremism in the Middle East, it must.
The Scranton Times-Tribune:
Generations of Americans have pointed with pride to the Statue of Liberty, our gift from France, and what it stands for. But too many politicians now apparently view it as a mere historical artifact. The famous verse by Emma Lazarus is inscribed at the base of the statue:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Who are the refugees, whom some politicians are now so eager to reject, but those huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched homeless, the “tempest-tost”?
The decision for Americans is whether that inscription is just a collection of words, or a description of who we are, or once were. It’s time for the great lady’s lamp to guide us anew.
The Journal Star in Nebraska:
It’s tragic that by doing so the GOP governors and members of Congress are turning their backs to victims of the Islamic State, as well as the American tradition, imperfect though it may be, of providing a haven to victims of wars and violence.
[...] Learning more about the refugee screening process will allay fear that it’s an easy avenue for terrorists to waltz into the country. [...] There are easier ways for terrorists to get into the United States – to cite one example, the visa waiver program allows 20 million people a year to enter the country.
The Richmond Times Dispatch:
Americans like to think of themselves as brave and strong. But a good portion of them are acting very weak and frightened. [...] Never to be outdone in the lunacy Olympics, Donald Trump is leaving open the possibility of forcing Muslims — including not just refugees but U.S. citizens — to register with the government as such, and perhaps even carry special ID. (No word on whether that might be a yellow star or crescent.) Instead of taking those suggestions, perhaps America should — oh, maybe stop the bed-wetting, for example. Then pull up its big-boy pants — and get a grip.
The Star-Ledger in New Jersey:
How can we respond? The cheap way is to fall into the trap that ISIS is setting for us. They want us to take rash actions that will further their cause by provoking an apocalyptic conflict between Islam and the West. Turning away Syrian refugees, even toddlers, plays into their hands perfectly. So does applying a religious test that admits Christians and excludes Muslims. So would another grinding military occupation in the Middle East.