We have become incapable of having a rational and productive national discussion of either Islamic terrorism or immigration, let alone having such a sober conversation when the two are interconnected.
The left is such a captive of political correctness that they’re incapable of acknowledging the problem. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to even use the “terrorism” word in his Saturday night press conference about the Chelsea bombing. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the fight against ISIS a “narrative war.” Hillary Clinton, who wanted to command al-Qaeda’s air force in Libya and Syria, blames Donald Trump’s rhetoric for terrorism.
While the left is absurd about the issue, the right unfortunately demagogues it. Texas Senator Ted Cruz called for a ban on Middle Eastern refugees, despite the fact that refugees were not involved in either attack this weekend. But the most despicable comments on the refugee issue came from the son of the Republican nominee Donald J. Trump Jr., who compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles with some poisoned ones in it.
Syrian refugees have survived Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bombs and the barbarism of both Barack Obama’s “moderate, vetted rebels” and ISIS. They’re among the most helpless and vulnerable people in the world. They deserve more dignity than being compared to poisoned candy.
There are much easier ways for a terrorist to enter the United States than coming as a refugee. The process usually takes around two years before a refugee even enters the country. There are extensive interviews, health screenings, and background checks involved. Finally, no potential refugee even begins the process unless they’re recommended by the United Nations. It’s much easier to use a forged Syrian passport to apply for a tourist or student visa and then overstay it if a terrorist wanted to infiltrate the country.
There is a proper way to discuss the issue without being overly PC or resorting to demagoguery. On Tuesday, short-lived independent presidential prospect David French has a thoughtful column at National Review about Islamic terrorism and immigration. While he does acknowledge that not all Muslims express barbaric views on terrorism and Sharia law, he notes that many unfortunately do. French also correctly points out that Muslims are disproportionately responsible for more terrorism deaths in the US since 9/11 than any other group. He also points out that it’s not unreasonable to limit and scrutinize immigration from countries that are disproportionately responsible for terrorism.
The reality is different. The Muslim world has a severe problem with anti-Semitism, intolerance, and terrorism. As I’ve documented before, using data from Pew Foundation surveys, it’s plain that more than 100 million Muslims have expressed sympathy for terrorists such as Osama bin Laden or for barbaric jihadist groups such as ISIS. Hundreds of millions more express support for the most intolerant forms of sharia law. Telethons in Saudi Arabia have raised vast sums of money for terrorist causes, and jihadists have been able to recruit hundreds of thousands of fighters to deploy against Americans, Israelis, and our Muslim allies.
Given these facts, why is it bigoted to propose plainly constitutional ideological litmus tests? How is it bigoted to halt — absent compelling extenuating circumstances — immigration from jihadist conflict zones or jihadist-dominated regions? We have implemented ideological tests before, during the Cold War, when there was an active national-security threat. We should do so again.
I’m skeptical about ideological litmus tests. They can be easily fooled.
However, there is nothing wrong with applying special and additional scrutiny to people coming in from places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria, among other countries. There is also nothing wrong with applying additional scrutiny to people who travel to those countries because of their ongoing jihadist conflicts. That’s not Islamophobia or bigotry, but practicality.
Our immigration system is broken, as we were reminded of again Monday with the shocking announcement that 858 immigrants that were supposed to be deported were instead granted citizenship.
We won’t fix our immigration system or be able to effectively address the problem of domestic terrorism if we become captive to political correctness or demagoguery. We shouldn’t lead with ignorance or hate, but the happy medium that is so sorely lacking—common sense.