Friday, November 20, 2015

Jerks and Knee-Jerks: Profiles In Cowardice, Bigotry and Ignorance

Earlier this week, in a piece, Shame the Bigots But Address the Fear, I emphasized the importance of taking seriously the American public's genuine fear about safety and security, and not treating everyone who expresses concerns about the influx of refugees as a cold-hearted bigot.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't also be calling out and shaming the cold-hearted bigots -- including, but not limited to, the entire field of Republican presidential candidates. 

There's Donald Trump, who proposes closing mosques in the United States, requiring all Muslims to register in a data base, and is not opposed to forcing them to wear special identification badges (yellow crescents?), drawing a disturbing parallel to Nazi Germany. 

Marco Rubio, given the opportunity to disavow Trump, attempted to trump him.  He would not only shut down mosques, but would close "whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States."

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz believe we should only allow Christian refugees to settle here, drawing a disturbing parallel to the Spanish Inquisition.

Ben Carson, not to be outdone, compares Syrian refugees to rabid dogs ("If there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog"), drawing a disturbing parallel to an ignorant nut case.

(For those keeping track, those five miserable human beings are supported by about 80% of Republican voters)

And then there are the panic-stricken House Republicans, who have voted for a "pause" in the process to allow refugees from Iraq and Syria, ignoring the fact that none of the Paris attackers were refugees -- from Syria or anywhere else --  and that we already have a painstakingly arduous process in place.  This paragraph from a New York Times article says it all: 
When pressed, most Republicans could not specify which aspects of the rigorous refugee vetting program that they found inadequate. [House Speaker Paul Ryan’s] staff members cited a Bloomberg poll of 1,002 adults released on Wednesday, conducted by Selzer & Company, that found that 53 percent of those surveyed said the resettlement program should be halted.
Pathetically, 47 craven Democrats voted with Republicans in a final tally of 289-137.

And then there are the majority of governors, including presidential candidate John Kasich, who would refuse to allow Syrians to resettle in their states.  One of the more egregious is purported Christian, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who denied admittance to two Syrian refugee families the day before they were scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis.  (Connecticut's governor graciously accepted the two families)

Democratic Roanoke Mayor David Bowers said his city would not be spending any resources on resettling Syrian refugees, suggesting the U.S. consider a plan similar to the internment of Japanese nationals during WWII.

And let's not forget our elected state officials.  There's Republican Rhode Island state Sen. Elaine Morgan, who opposes resettling Syrian refugees because "[t]he Muslim religion and philosophy is to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non Muslim" and suggests that "we should set up refugee camp to keep them segregated from our populous [sic]."  And then there's Republican Missouri state Rep. Mike Moon who is calling for a special legislative session to stop “the potential Islamization of Missouri.”

The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought out the worst kind of fear-mongering and demagoguery from (mostly) Republican politicians.  These bigoted, inhumane and ignorant responses stem from the desire to pander to the least exceptional aspects of the American psyche for political gain as well as from what Paul Krugman describes as the right wing's propensity for panic.  Andy Borowitz, the great satirist, wrote a piece in the New Yorker this past summer, joking that "a group of scholars who have been monitoring the descent of the bar over the past few decades have concluded that the bar can no longer be lowered."  That proved to be far too optimistic.


Unknown said...

What else is there to say. The sadness and anger this ignorance and bigotry is part and parcel of the dumbing down of American politics where a real conversation about any real danger is impossible. I wish as much passion could have been created on the part of the Republican political establishment at the murders that happened in Sandy Hook, or Colorado or Oregon.

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