So we begin with the premise that no one with all faculties intact would disagree that those abnormal life forms stoutly affirming a commitment to the mindless slaughter of innocent victims, such as we recently saw in Paris, forfeit the right to share our civilized space. We reject totally any notion that these ongoing eruptions of barbarian behavior occur in response to a summons rooted in religious belief. The stated objective of those members of the international community of nations, including the U.S., who have vowed to eliminate the perpetrators of this evil, through whatever seems appropriately effective action, is to be applauded and encouraged.
But no way does condemnation of barbarism justify the xenophobic madness that is thought by so many in the political arena to be the response of choice to a humanitarian crisis, in which countless thousands of refugees have fled Syria’s war-ravaged terrain. Thank heavens for those who, by contrast, have put reputations, careers and whatever else on the line in standing up for principle that is supposedly embedded in the American core, and blasting the headline seekers who choose to play to the people’s worst anti-immigrant impulses.
In this charged political season, the high stakes of 2016 looming large, a happening like the Paris horror and further innocent loss of life in Mali just days later provide fodder for the wannabe demagogues bent on scoring highest with a right-side support base for whom incendiary rhetoric is food to die for. Hence the bull-rush to get off the most loaded Muslim-bashing lines. That this would engender a proposal for the U.S. to accept Christians but reject Muslims among the Syrian refugees, shocking though it is to the rest of us, is standard fare in the extremist universe. And then there’s New Jersey Governor Chris Christie struggling, from a position of major disadvantage, to trump (in a manner of speaking) the contemptible leader of the Republican presidential pack, as far as appealing to the basest instincts of their target audience. Christie’s homerun swing was that he would allow no admissions of any Syrians, “not even orphans under age five,” he added for emphasis. Small wonder New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio would say of the comment from the “blue state” governor across the river, that he was “an embarrassment.”
These right-wing or right-leaning advocates of America turning a blind eye to legitimate human suffering, to which other key international players have favorable responded, are prepared to have that policy of uncompromising opposition serve as battle cry in a campaign for the electorate’s collective mind. There is precedent, of course, for a dispassionate American response to situations similar to the current Syrian crisis. In the 1970s President Gerald Ford got a rude awakening from the fierce pushback that greeted his effort to throw a lifeline to some of the so-called “boat people” displaced by conflict in southeast Asia. A reminder to hardliners, be they political class or citizenry, that America is largely a nation of immigrants or the offspring of immigrants evidently doesn’t do much good, as Ford discovered.
Having, from the outset, staked his improbable presidential run to a demonizing of the Mexican immigrant population, Trump naturally takes to this new chapter, with venom being indiscriminately heaped on Muslims, as a duck to water. Convinced that no one could rival him, as far as unabashedly giving voice to the most bizarre or offensive pronouncements, he has had guns blazing on the new Muslim targets in a non-stop barrage. He wants a data base capable of keeping track of every Muslim resident of this country (including, of course, the Muslim members of the U.S. Congress and Muslims spread far and wide contributing productively to American society). More recently he has sought to presumably present further rationale for his anti-Muslim rampage with a claim that on 9/11 when the Twin Towers fell, he saw “thousands and thousands” (of Muslims, obviously) cheering somewhere in New Jersey — an alleged nugget of the 9/11 narrative whose veracity is being openly questioned. It is taking far too long for this shameless charlatan and publicity hound to disappear from any serious discussion on 2016 presidential prospects.
Because certain groups, steeped in unseemly brutish behavior on a path to who knows what, are known to be of the Muslim world, it’s clear there are some in that world unworthy of our compassion. A situation has developed, unfortunately, which necessitates the utmost vigilance to recognize and then remove those responsible for bringing us to this. But just as resolutely should we call out the folks in high places here who would, willy-nilly, dehumanize the entire Muslim community, all in the interest, ultimately, of scoring cheap political points.