In the aftermath of a devastating attack by ISIS Muslim terrorists – including a Syrian Muslim “refugee” -- against Westerners in Paris, the left believes the true threat to the West is…the intolerance of the West. That’s the narrative emerging from the leftist press and President Obama and Hillary Clinton, all of whom agree that Islamophobia represents the gravest menace to Western civilization, not the wave of Islamic refugees swamping Europe from Syria, Libya, and other Middle Eastern countries.
On Monday, President Obama fought back against Republican attempts to narrow Western acceptance of Syrian refugees to Christians. He called such attempts “shameful” and “not American,” stating, “That’s not who we are.”
Hillary’s campaign responded, too, to such suggestions about curbing Syrian Muslim refugee intake:
As President, Hillary Clinton’s highest priority would be ensuring the safety of the American people. She believes that we need to be vigilant in screening and vetting any refugees from Syria, and that we cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and humanitarian obligations. As she said in debate she supports accepting refugees from Syria, with an intensive vetting and screening process conducted by defense and intelligence professionals to ensure those in need are granted safety while keeping out anyone who would seek to do us harm.
This is mythical. There are no solid procedures in place for vetting Syrian Muslim refugees, despite administration claims to the contrary. According to CNS News, applications run through the UN High Commissioner for Refuges, and are then handed over to State Department resettlement support centers; the Department of Homeland Security’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services then does “vetting and interviews” taking an average of 18-24 months. That still does not explain how the actual vetting works, nor does it take into account that UN-registered refugees are disproportionately non-Christian, since Christians do not flee to camps full of Muslims.
The left fears the right far more than they fear ISIS.
Nonetheless, the left insists that concern over the capacity for Syrian Muslims to integrate into the West, as well as concerns over Syrian Muslim poverty and reliance on state resources, represent simple “Islamophobia”; they add that lack of security procedures are a mere pretext for such discrimination. Richard Cohen of The Washington Post ripped into historian Niall Ferguson for pointing out that France has “opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.” Cohen wrote:
I would have to be willfully ignorant to overlook that much terrorism — including, of course, the mass murders on Sept. 11, 2001 — has been carried out by Muslims, usually Arabs. And I am not one to deny that cultural differences matter and can matter greatly. But the Europe that Ferguson fears will go the way of Rome has shown in the recent — and not so recent — past that its Christians can act plenty bestially on their own.
He then cites religious wars hundreds of years old, as well as pogroms in Russia in 1905, and, of course, the Holocaust. He ignores that those who would perpetrate the next Holocaust are Muslims residing in the Middle East today, and that those who now perpetrate pogroms in Europe are Muslims from the Middle East. To recognize that fact would be “Islamophobia.” He concludes, “We all have the same enemy. It is not Islam. It is intolerance.”
This is asinine, unless you recognize that intolerance of those who murder people of different religions is an affirmative good. Cohen doesn’t, naturally. He just throws out platitudes, implying that everyone is equally opposed to intolerance – a nonsensical, anti-factual perspective.
And that’s the left: if you are wary of Syrian Muslim refugees, you’re the problem. Over at New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait echoed Cohen, whining about “The Return of Islamophobia.” Chait stated:
And yet, since the Bush administration departed the scene, Republicans have jettisoned Bush’s cautious strategy of distinguishing between Islam and its violent minority….The problem, of course, is that the most inflammatory interpretation of Rubio’s words is available not only to Christian culture warriors but also to Islamic culture warriors. Indeed, the entire Republican Party has transformed itself into a propaganda machine working in effect, if not intent, to reinforce ISIS’s message that the Christian and Muslim worlds are locked in violent, unresolvable conflict.
This is plainly untrue. Chait cites Marco Rubio’s statements about labeling the enemy Nazism during World War II to point out that we weren’t afraid of offending all Germans, or members of the Nazi Party who weren’t violent. He then states that Rubio was likening all of Islam to Nazis. But Rubio’s entire point was distinguishing radical Islam from non-radical Islam: he was likening terrorists to violent Nazis, radical Islam to Nazism, and Islam to German status. Rubio’s point is obvious: we can’t be so afraid of offending fellow travelers that we fail to label our enemy.
Chait’s argument has become commonplace on the left, however: according to Democrats, labeling radical Islam reinforces the “clash of civilizations” language ISIS likes. But ignoring that clash – and it is a real clash – has done a great disservice to the West, not least because failing to recognize the differences between radical Islam and Westernism has allowed radical Islam to infiltrate the West.
But the editorial board of the New York Daily News tells Americans not to worry about such issues:
Dabbling cruelly in ethnic and religious prejudice, more than a dozen U.S. governors have declared they would close their states to Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the Paris attacks…. Perspective and decency are in order. First, ISIS plotters need not join refugees to travel from country to country. Second, a religious test for admitting refugees violates all that American stands for. And why stop there? Consistency would demand barring all Muslim immigration. The ugliness is appalling.
There is a difference between description of a suspect and “ethnic and religious prejudice.” We know the description of those who attacked in Paris, just as we know the description of those who attacked us on 9/11, at Fort Hood, in the Boston bombings. Consistency would not demand barring all Muslim immigration; treating all Muslims as one class makes no logical sense, and treating all refugees as one class, regardless of background or religion, makes even less sense.
But the left doesn’t need to make sense: all they need to do is complain about right-wing bigotry even as the looming threat of Islamic terror grows. The battle between right and left has always been asymmetric: the right considers enemies abroad the greatest peril to the West, while the left considers the right the greatest peril to the West. The left fears the right far more than they fear ISIS. It’s only at times when the West is under foreign assault that the absurdity of the leftist position becomes crystal clear.