In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris committed by ISIS, a majority of state governors in the U.S. have announced that they would refuse to allow any Syrian refugees to settle within their borders. The response has been intense. Some people are adamantly in support because they think that Syrians are terrorists. Other people are outraged, and think that refugees from a politically torn country should be protected by the country that promises to do so on its definitive national landmark.
Both of these responses, however, are wrong. The correct reaction to state governors saying they won’t accept Syrian refugees should be bemused confusion, followed by an extended eye roll of disgust.
The bemused confusion should come from the fact that the influx of Syrian refugees is an immigration issue, making it explicitly and absolutely within the sole control of the executive branch of the federal government. States have less of a say in immigration issues than a five-year-old has in what’s for dinner.
So it should be confusing that 26 governors, 11 of whom have law degrees, would bother challenging the White House on something that they know they can’t influence. How utterly silly of them.
This bemused confusion, however, should start to fade when you notice that every single governor actively refusing refugees are Republican. Only 5 Republican governors have not explicitly announced that they would refuse to accept fleeing Syrians in their state. 4 of these, however, are currently lobbying for increased screening of refugees, if they’re coming from Syria. The only Republican governor – out of the 31 Republican governors in the U.S. – that isn’t actively trying to make it more difficult for refugees to come to their state is Gary Herbert, of Utah.
When an issue is being drawn down such purely partisan lines in today’s America, political point scoring is always the number one suspect.
And there are so many political points to score, here! President Obama has said that he would increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed to relocate to the U.S., to stem the humanitarian crisis from the civil war that no one seems to care about. Even though not one single refugee admitted under the U.S.’s current screening process has committed an act of terrorism, the possibility that political refugees could, in theory, attack Americans is easy to imagine. Emphasizing the theoretical possibility that it can happen, and exaggerating it until you’re saying that it will happen, Republican governors can say they’ll refuse Syrian refugees to not only make Obama look “soft on terror,” but also to cater to the anti-Muslim war hawks that they depend on, for reelection.
Scoring political points to flex muscles and get reelected is, of course, politics, which always deserves an eye roll.
However, the lengths to which Republican governors have gone in their political maneuvering over refugees has become worthy of something more than the standard eye roll you once gave your parents. Capitalizing on an international terror attack to score political points is as despicable now as it was when President Bush said it was after September 11th. Even more disturbing is the fact that ISIS has publically stated that they’re trying to polarize Muslims and eliminate what they call the “grey zone” – where Muslims can “be Muslim” without joining the ISIS ranks. ISIS thinks that any Muslim not fighting for them is not a Muslim, and therefore an apostate who deserves to be executed. And you thought being a junior associate was harsh.
Keeping Syrian refugees out of the U.S. plays right into ISIS’ hands. Closing off a huge swath of the Western world to Muslims who want to get away from ISIS – leaving them isolated on the outside, vulnerable to ISIS recruiting, and with a reason to hate the U.S. – would be like using student loans to pay sticker price for an ivy league education so you could major in ceramic painting. You might really enjoy coloring pots and pans, and you’d be really happy doing it for a few years, but you’d better have one hell of a backup plan for when it comes time to pay up.
So what is, exactly, the backup plan that these governors have in mind?
Not to be in office when it comes time to pay. It would take several years for the backlash of angry refugees to take shape. By that time, the governors refusing to take them in are counting on it being someone else’s problem: Their average age is 58. The only hope is that their hard – though useless – words on immigration succeed in getting them reelected so well that they’re still in office when we can point out that the most recent terrorist attack was conducted by an orphan who was refused entry when he was five.
[Post image via Shutterstock]