Wall Street Journal (Editorial)
November 17, 2015
President Obama on Monday assailed the U.S. political backlash against resettling more Syrian refugees, especially Muslims, calling it un-American. Well, maybe he should have thought about that before he decided to do so little in Syria and let Islamic State build a vast terror sanctuary.
“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism; they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in Turkey. “We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”
Mr. Obama was reacting to the political stampede, following Friday’s jihadist massacre in Paris, against the President’s decision to accept at least 10,000 of the millions of refugees fleeing Islamic State and Syria’s civil war. Every GOP presidential candidate we’ve heard is now calling for restricting the refugee flow into the U.S. At least 12 Governors are taking steps to bar them from their states, and Congress will vote sooner or later on blocking funds for Syrian refugee resettlement.
What did Mr. Obama expect? It would be nice, and we would prefer, if Americans accepted Syrians the way they have so many war refugees over the decades—from the Jews of Europe, to the Hmong and Vietnamese, to Cubans and Afghans. The West needs loyal Muslims of moderate beliefs to help defeat the radicals; we shouldn’t want to alienate them.
But refugees from those earlier foreign conflicts didn’t include agents who would continue the war on U.S. shores. As France is learning, Islamic State is only too happy to use the Syrian diaspora to plant its agents to kill the French. At least one of the killers on Friday is believed to have migrated from Syria through Greece and into Paris. Nearly all of the other migrants, Muslim and Christian, have no such bloody intent. But can you blame the average American for refusing to volunteer as a next door neighbor?
Mr. Obama was especially harsh on those, like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, who say Christian refugees should be a priority. “When some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
But Messrs. Bush and Cruz are right that Christians are under particular threat from Islamic State. If they aren’t killed for jihadist sport, they must convert to Islam or die. Their daughters are raped and forced into Muslim marriages. Their churches are blown up. The U.S. would have been right to accept and save more Jews from Nazi genocide in the 1930s and 1940s. Syrian Christians are no different today.
The larger point is one we’ve been trying to explain to our progressive friends since the war on terror began. An important reason to accept small infringements on liberty to prevent terrorist mass murder is because the political consequences of failure will be so much worse for liberal values.
Metadata collection or surveillance of mosques or Muslim students doesn’t compare to what a frightened American public might support if a Paris-like event occurred on Rush Street in Chicago or the Mall of America in Minneapolis. The internment camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II were a shameful period in U.S. history, but FDR, a progressive hero, allowed the camps under political pressure after Pearl Harbor.
The same point holds for overseas interventions. Mr. Obama boasts that he has avoided George W. Bush’s Iraq mistake by not intervening in Syria. But doing nothing also has moral consequences. These now include the rise of a terrorist caliphate, the worst refugee flood in Europe since World War II, and the increasing risk of Paris-like killings across the West. Mr. Obama’s foreign policy of liberal nonintervention may lead to the deaths of far more innocents than creating a Syrian safe-zone and destroying Islamic State would have.
If Mr. Obama fought Islamic State with half the vigor with which he delivers moral lectures, he’d find that a much less fearful America would welcome far more refugees.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com