[Vision2020] Christians and terrorism
ngier006 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 18 08:49:33 PST 2015
NOVEMBER 16, 2015Ted Cruz’s Religious Test for Syrian RefugeesBY AMY
DAVIDSON <http://www.newyorker.com/contributors/amy-davidson>, The New
Cruz told reporters that we should accept Christians from Syria, and only
Christians, because “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing
acts of terror.”
“President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of
thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America—it is nothing less than
lunacy,” Ted Cruz said on Fox News
the day after the attacks on Paris. If there are Syrian Muslims who are
really being persecuted, he said, they should be sent to “majority-Muslim
countries.” Then he reset his eyebrows, which had been angled in a peak of
concern, as if he had something pious to say. And he did: “On the other
hand,” he added, “*Christians*who are being targeted for genocide, for
persecution, *Christians* who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be
providing safe haven to them. But President Obama refuses to do that.”
The next day, at a middle school in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Cruz
spoke even more openly about those whom he considers to be the good people
in the world. He told reporters that we should accept Christians from
Syria, and only Christians, because, he said, “There is no meaningful risk
of Christians committing acts of terror.” This will come as a profound
surprise to the people of Oklahoma City and Charleston, to all parties in
Ireland, and to the families of the teen-agers whom Anders Breivik killed
in Norway, among many others. The Washington *Post* noted that Cruz “did
not say how he would determine that refugees were Christian or Muslim.”
Would he accept baptismal certificates, or notes from pastors? Does he just
want to hear the refugees pray?
On Monday, President Barack Obama reacted
this suggestion with some anger. “When I hear folks say that, well, maybe
we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear
political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which
person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of
those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection
when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Obama said.
(That last bit, about “families who’ve benefitted” when fleeing
persecution, was an unmistakable reference to Cruz and Marco Rubio.) Obama
continued, “That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our
compassion.” The question is whether Obama can put that compassion to use,
in this precipitous moment after Paris, when so many bad choices will seem
appealing, including attacks on our fellow-citizens. (On Monday, Donald
Trump said that, though he’d “hate to do it,” as President he would
“seriously consider” closing mosques that were viewed as centers of
radicalism.) The real criticism is that the United States has taken so few
Syrian refugees of any religion—just about fifteen hundred, all of whom
have been screened by a process that can take up to two years.
Cruz is cruder than some, but he is not alone among Republicans. On Sunday,Jeb
said that, although he isn’t entirely opposed to helping refugees who’d
been screened, “I think our focus ought to be on the Christians who have no
place in Syria anymore.” (Christians were ten per cent of Syria’s
population when the civil war broke out.) On Monday morning, Bush spoke
about how “we should focus on creating safe havens for refugees in Syria
rather than bringing them all the way across the United States”—a life in
no-fly zones, while, according to a vision Bush also laid out
the weekend, a major land war involving U.S. troops was launched around
them. He quickly added, “But I do think there is a special, important need
to make sure that Syrians are being protected, because they are being
slaughtered in the country and, but for us, who—who would take care of the
number of Christians that right now are completely displaced?” Others, like
Rubio, have avoided the Christian question by saying that they don’t think
we should take refugees at all. Ben Carson
speaking to Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” said that taking in
refugees “from that area of the world, I think, is a huge mistake. … To
bring them over here, under these circumstances, is a suspension of
intellect,” and would ignore “the reason the human brain has these big
frontal lobes, as opposed to other animals.” (He then talked at greater
length about “brain stems.”) Trump, in the past, has claimed that Syrian
Muslim refugees can get into America “easily” (they cannot), while “if
you’re from Syria and you’re Christian you cannot come into this country”
(again, not the case). But, mostly, Trump doesn’t want to let anybody in,
at least not anybody of the tempest-tossed type. Indeed, it’s not clear
that the talk of Christian refugees is meant, even by the loudest
Republicans, to translate into the appearance of Syrian Christians in
America, as opposed to being an acknowledgment that some of the crowds that
cheer when they hear anti-immigrant rhetoric might have qualms of
conscience. The problem, they can be told, is just that our
Muslim-sympathizing, cowardly leaders would bring in the wrong refugees.
Christians are in danger in Syria. Their danger is distinct but not unique.
The Yazidis, an even more isolated religious minority, have been a
particular target of ISIS. Shiites and Alawites have been targeted, too.
Refugee policies have at times rightly recognized the urgent danger that
certain religious or otherwise distinct groups are in, and have properly
responded. This is something quite different than saying, as Cruz does,
that being a Muslim should be a basis for exclusion. Would he let in
atheists, for that matter? It seems strange, when moderate Muslims are
trying to distance themselves from a milieu of terror, that we would insist
that such a thing is impossible. There are international and American laws
that recognize people who need protection. There are principles of common
decency which do the same. What they do not do is use faith, or the lack of
it, as a basis for rejection. (America should have let in more Jewish
refugees during the Second World War; that wouldn’t have meant turning away
Thomas Mann.) And it is a brutal insult to Syrians who have gone through
four and half years of carnage to say that the fact that they are Sunnis
gives them some sort of immunity from ISIS or from the Assad regime. There
are four million Syrian refugees outside of the country now, and many more
inside it. There will likely be some bad people among them. That fact does
not obviate their suffering. Taking more of them in can be an unpopular
position at a moment when the news is full of speculation that one of the
Paris attackers had passed through a refugee camp in Greece with a Syrian
passport. But their desperation will not disappear if we lose interest in
it; it may just take a different and more destructive form. We have a role
in deciding where they will go next.
One of the more dishonest aspects of Cruz’s comments on Fox was his
characterization of who the Syrian refugees are. He mentioned an estimate
that, in the “early waves” of refugees entering Europe, “seventy-seven per
cent of those refugees were young men. That is a very odd demographic for a
refugee wave.” Perhaps it would be, if the number were accurate. A bare
majority of the Syrian refugees are women, as FactCheck.org noted in
September, when Ben Carson and Scott Walker raised similar alarms. About
twenty-two per cent are men between the ages of eighteen and fifty-nine—a
broad definition of “young.” Cruz is smart enough to know this. He may be
referring to a number given for migrants who arrived in Europe, from nine
different countries, by taking a specific, dangerous Mediterranean sea
route in 2014 (seventy-two per cent). Among the two million Syrian refugees
the United Nations has registered in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, a
full thirty-eight per cent are under the age of twelve.
For that matter, why shouldn’t there be young men among the refugees? In
stories about why people emigrate
<http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/26/ten-borders>, like the one
told by Nicholas Schmidle last month in *The New Yorker*, one reason young
men give as a motivating factor for leaving their countries is the fear of
being conscripted by one side or the other. They don’t want to be killed,
and they don’t want to be killers. Is it Cruz’s view that a
nineteen-year-old, just out of high school, should head for the hills,
looking for the moderate Syrian opposition that even the C.I.A. has been
unable to find? Or should he languish in a camp, with no prospects of
really settling anywhere, as a target for the wrong type of tutor? That is
not going to make Europe or the United States any safer. What Cruz and the
others are saying is that the threat people are living under, which has
been enough to drive them from their homes, should not matter. What does
matter is whether we *feel*threatened by them.
The other insinuation that Cruz and others are making is that Obama doesn’t
like Christians, and refuses to acknowledge the Islamic character of
terrorism—maybe, they suggest, because of his character, or because of who
he is. “I recognize that Barack Obama does not wish to defend this
country,” Cruz said. And saying that was shameful, too.
On Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 8:31 AM, Tom Hansen <thansen at moscow.com> wrote:
> "There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If
> there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had
> a different religious view than they, we would have a different national
> security situation."
> - Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
> Really, Mr. Cruz?
> How about these "Christian" people . . .
> One question, Mr. Cruz: As a Canadian (born in Canada), what are your
> true feelings concerning our immigration policy?
> Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
> "Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
> http://www.MoscowCares.com <http://www.moscowcares.com/>
> Tom Hansen
> Moscow, Idaho
> "There's room at the top they are telling you still.
> But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
> If you want to be like the folks on the hill."
> - John Lennon
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> mailto:Vision2020 at moscow.com
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guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.
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