The Syrian Refugee Controversy: For The US Government, An Easy Ethics Call

Syrian refugees

That does not mean that it is an easy call for Barack Obama, whose perception of his duties and the stakeholders in his decisions is often confused.

The Question: Is it competent and responsible (ergo ethical) for the  the U.S. accept 10,000 Syrian refugees (or 65,000, as Hillary Clinton advocates) in the U.S., knowing that it is statistically certain that some of them will carry the threat of Islamic terrorism with them?

The Answer: No. Of course not. How can a rational person advocate such a foolish policy?

The answers to the last question are fascinating to speculate upon, and range from 1) “A rational person won’t,” to 2) “Willful blindness to reality” to 3) “Because of a profound misunderstanding of  the ethical priorities of government and leadership” to 4) “That’s a rational policy if the policy maker-wants  terror attacks.”

The proper analogy is admitting a refugee population with members suffering from a highly-communicable, infectious, incurable and fatal disease. No responsible government would risk bringing a plague into its population without being able to make certain—certain—that none of the refugees carried it. Thus there would be a quarantine period imposed on the refugees showing no symptoms, and those infected would not be allowed to enter the U.S. population at all. This is the same situation, except that the infectious, fatal, incurable contagion is radical Islam.

Dishonest and manipulative politicians like Hillary Clinton tacitly acknowledge the plague model when they say that refugees must be admitted to the U.S. but only after they are “thoroughly vetted.” They cannot be thoroughly vetted, however. Records from Syria are neither reliable nor available. Thus what such politicians are really saying is either “I don’t support taking Syrian refugees, but want you to think I do” or “I’m hopeless detached from reality.” The first is Hillary; the second is Barack Obama, who said yesterday,

“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”

We can’t do both. It can’t be done. His first sentence is pure demagoguery, and demonstrates, yet again, how shockingly ignorant the President is regarding the duties of his office. His essential duties are  to do what is in the best interests of the United States, its citizens, and its mission of promoting human rights in the world. When those objectives are in conflict, the President must put the welfare and security, long term and short term, of the citizens who elected him and the nation he leads above all else.

Why can’t Obama see that? I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to understand the man.

Objectively, the question of the Syrian refugees is an ethics conflict, when warring  ethical principles and systems contradictory results.On the side of accepting the refugees and the undeniable risks they carry, we have altruism, The Golden Rule, fairness, kindness, decency, tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and caring.

On the side of rejecting them, there is utilitarianism, responsibility, loyalty, process, competence, trustworthiness,  prudence, and due diligence.

For a leader, the choice is obvious, because for a leader, it can’t be a question answered objectively. The President of the United States is not permitted the luxury of altruism, or objectivity. He holds an office of trust, and is trusted to place  citizens above others. This decision involves more than values. It is a matter of leadership and government ethics.  However much Obama or anyone else believes that assisting the Syrian refugees, of any number, is objectively the “right thing to do,” the United States Government cannot regard it that way. It is bound by its own duties, standards and priorities to be partisan: this country comes first. The Syrian refugees present a real and existential peril that cannot be avoided, except by keeping them out.

Easy ethics call.

At least it should be.

Other points:

1. Nonetheless, it is Obama’s call. The 28 state governors who have announced that they will “not permit” Syrian refugees in their states are either ignorantly or for effect asserting a power they do not have. States cannot reject immigrants and refugees duly and lawfully admitted into the country by the Federal government. (According to the Obama Justice Department, they can’t reject illegal immigrants negligently admitted into the country by the Federal government’s incompetence and corruption, either.) These announcements of defiance are a bluff, but have undeniable political power.

2. Calls to only admit Christian refugees, as some Republicans have made, are more grandstanding, and offensive grandstanding at that. Here Obama is on sound ethical ground:

“And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Exactly right. We can’t discriminate against the refugees according to religion. We must reject all of them, equally, treating everyone equal, because the group carries an unacceptable risk of terrorism and death.

3. Conservative auteur of the eloquent blog rant, Ace of Spades, delivered a masterpiece yesterday evening about how the progressive/Democrat echo chamber refuse to accept reality on this issue. Read the whole thing, but here is a taste:

HBO’s Progressive Televangelist John Oliver delivered a 17 minute sermon to the faithful last month, telling all the true believers that their enemies were sinful and slothful and that the Kingdom of Heaven of the Strange Gods was at hand. He mocked the idea that terrorists would, or could, infiltrate Europe with Syrian migrants, and invited his flock to laugh at the heathens who thought maybe they could.

Well, despite having a 48 hour lead time, John Oliver wasn’t quite ready to address the Paris attacks in last night’s show. So he just did a two minute segment in which he called the terrorists “f***ing assholes” and praised the French for their pastries.

He then said, “If you’re picking a Lifestyle and Culture war with the French, good luck!”

This incredibly stupid hot wet Chinese Food Fart of reality-dodging sophistry is being praised among the Cult of the Left for its daring. …They don’t seem to notice that IS did not mount a “Lifestyle and Culture war” against the French; rather, they have, in a series of attacks over the past year (remember Charlie Hebdo?), launched an actual war, a bullet and bomb war, against France.

Yes, John Oliver, the French culture is immensely superior to the joyless death-cult of the Islamists. Well-spotted, as they might say in England (and bien vu as they’d say in France0.But unfortunately, a war is not won when two sides get together on the field of battle and show off to each other who produces the best pastries, the best fashion, the best Progressive Televangelist Rants which “DESTROY” the opponent, nor the best #HashtagMemes….

It’s not that the left is so stupid as to be incapable of understanding reality; though that does, of course, play into it. The problem is that they are a Manichean religious cult which has certain extreme religious views, and anyone questioning those views will be deemed heretic and thrown out of the cult and ostracized. So it’s more a failure of moral and intellectual courage than of intellectual capacity….The faux intellectual class is in fact studiously anti-intellectual; they are simply the most degenerate sort of priestly class, the priests who do not actually read or study, but just pass what seems like wisdom from one stupid mouth to one imbecile ear.

They’re not stupid, so much as they are cowards; and the ultimate retreat for the ultimate coward is the full flight from reality, the retreat to the #SafeSpace of fuzzy dreams of the way they wish the world were…

Then he really gets rolling.

4. Ace is as hard right as sane bloggers come, but he’s objectively truth-telling here, and he makes the truth sting. The chorus of breast-beating about the plight of the Syrian refugees is noble, kind and nice, but their plight, in this case, cannot be addressed without placing the United States and its citizens at greater risk than it already is. That’s the end of the debate, or should be. Anyone who doesn’t see that immediately is unqualified to be a high elected official, and especially President.

5. Ace of Spades completes his evisceration by noting that progressives are singing “Imagine” again. As I think I have pointed out here before, there are few compositions more fatuous, facile and damaging than this John Lennon ode to magical thinking. If it is your moral guide to responding to terrorism and you tear up when you hear it, I really don’t want to hear from you.You’re beyond helping.

6. Say what you will about the French, at least their response to the Paris attack was a song with more appropriates sentiments, their national anthem, the most stirring of them all:

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

To arms citizens Form your battalions
March, march
Let impure blood
Water our furrows

What do they want this horde of slaves
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What methods must be taken?
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would have themselves be
The masters of destiny

Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heros
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
That they regret taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillé
All these tigers who pitilessly
Ripped out their mothers’ wombs

We too shall enlist
When our elders’ time has come
To add to the list of deeds
Inscribed upon their tombs
We are much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them

Drive on sacred patriotism
Support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your manly tone
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!




85 thoughts on “The Syrian Refugee Controversy: For The US Government, An Easy Ethics Call

  1. “The proper analogy is admitting a refugee population with members suffering from a highly-communicable, infectious, incurable and fatal disease. “…which he has done before. Remember ebola? Granted, there are several facets to ebola that do not allow it to become a species-threatening disease, but it will do until a better one shows up. And Africa seems to have problems with it every other year or so.

  2. Jack,

    Don’t you know the poem at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty overrides not just strategic security policy but the Constitution itself?

    On a side note: how is it Obama’s call to let large wave of refugees in, aren’t immigration and naturalization policies governed by whatever law is in place from Congress?

  3. Another couple of thoughts, for those of you out there whose logic appears to have short-circuited after the attacks on Paris: Does a government that turns a blind eye to its own immigration laws by ignoring “sanctuary cities” that defy them, even when those here illegally commit terrible crimes up to and including murder, have a leg to stand on morally, ethically, or legally when state governments also defy its immigration policies by not accepting potentially dangerous outsiders?

    How about those of you who recently were bashing men generally as all being potential rapists and never to be trusted, who used the comparison “if someone offered you a bowl of M&Ms of which only 5% were poisoned, would you take any?” Give me one good reason, without moralizing, name-calling, or appealing to pity, why the same exact logic used to justify treating all men you don’t know as potential rapists, shouldn’t apply to keeping potential terrorists out of this country.

    As we’ve seen this past year, it only takes one man with one gun to do a lot of damage and send a city scurrying indoors to wet its collective pants until the good guys with the guns arrive, and not even ten men with guns can butcher over a hundred and send a capital into a state of emergency that’s likely to last for months. Do you really want to risk another attack like that just so you can pat yourself on the back and say “but I CARED?”

    A nation’s first responsibility is keeping its own people safe, not becoming a haven for every person who comes knocking at the door crying “oppressed.” Sorry if I am beginning to sound like Mark Levin, who makes Rush look moderate, but I have to wonder if those charged with keeping this nation safe have, as their time in office winds down, taken leave of their senses.

    • Our treaties say that a refugee is someone who has a :” well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin”. Now here is the problem. It can’t really apply to entire countries. If that were the case, we would be obligated to accept most of the world as refugees. These people have to have a ‘special’ fear of such persecution, greater than the average person in their country. This doesn’t apply to most of the refugees from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Despite being derided in the press, it DOES actually apply to the ones who are Christian. The rest are just fleeing their crappy society and their crappy country because it is crappy to live there. So, if you really want to apply the refugee statutes and bring in ‘the most vulnerable’ as the President stated, the proposal to allow Christian Syrians in has the most validity.

  4. Actually, regarding the “religious test,” I don’t entirely agree with the analysis.

    I live in a city with a substantial Russian population. And when I say Russian, I mean Jewish. Many of them fled here seeking asylum. Why did they need asylum? Because they were Jews who lived in Russia. Generalization: the Russians don’t really like the Jews. The government couldn’t or wouldn’t protect them. So, they came here and it was on the basis of their Jewish-ness that they were eligible for relief.

    That’s not a religious test, strictly speaking.

    Here, the analogy is not quite the same. We are talking about refugees, not asylum seekers. Regarding refugees, we took in a lot of Hmong refugees following Vietnam. Most of them sat in a camp in Thailand for 7-10 years while they were vetted. And, we only let them come if they could prove they helped our war effort. Put the Syrians in a camp in Syria and protect it from attack while you vet them. (No one on the left will suggest that.)

    With Syria, you would think the Yazidis would be eligible for asylum/refugee status, even if Christians would not be. And, again, that would be on the basis of race/religion. And, I would be perfectly fine with that qualification.


  5. Jack,
    Two small things: I’m not entirely sure something can be called “ethical” or “unethical” simply based on the criteria that it is competent and responsible, but that’s only a first impression — I haven’t had the chance to run the model through reductio ad absurdum yet.

    “… knowing that it is statistically certain that some of them will carry the threat of Islamic terrorism with them?”

    Couldn’t this be said of all immigration (especially considering the 9/11/2001 hijackers all entered the country legally)? This is a question, not a statement — please (politely) respond in kind.


    • “I’m not entirely sure something can be called “ethical” or “unethical” simply based on the criteria that it is competent and responsible,”

      You scare me a little. I think you actually believe this.

      Could it be said of all immigration? Possibly. To a much lesser degree. Perhaps the difference is in the expected threat levels. What you’re falling prey to is the “Barn Door Fallacy”: “We’ve already got terrorists here, so why are we worrying about taking more in, besides: Think of the Children!” At this point, it’s been confirmed that at least three of the eight Paris terrorists entered Greece with refugee status, it’s basically a mathematical certainty that some of those refugees will attempt to bomb something eventually… So here’s the rub: Are you willing to take in those refugees, knowing full well that eventually a stadium or concert hall will explode for it?

      • HT,
        I asked politely for a polite response, but you chose to ad snark anyways. Then again, I shouldn’t complain about trolls if all I do is hang out under bridges.

        Lastly, as you’ll see below, I don’t “believe” anything of the sort as it was a thought experiment. What’s more, for me to “scare” you would suggest you have even a basic understanding of my political beliefs (you don’t) — so why be a wise-ass?

        In other words, gross. That said, all the best.

        Neil A. Dorr

        • Dearest Mr. Dorr,

          When faced with a question that has so obvious an answer, I find myself at a bit of a quandary, gingerly shifting from thinking that there’s either a trap, and the questioner is begging a specific answer, or that the questioner is mildly retarded. In this case, I could not settle on a defnitive answer, and so I tried tried, oh so hard, to tone down my snark, and perhaps do my best to answer the question. It’s hard, you see, I was actually brought up speaking a mixture of pure sarcasm and Canadianese, so this ‘polite’ thing you speak of, well.. as much as I try, it’s still only a second or third language for me. I apologise, from the bottom of my bitter, white, male, cis heart for any hurt I may have caused your fragile sensibilities, and hope desperately that you can find it in yourself to forgive me.

          Barring that, I hope that you can find the time to faintly incline yourself over the nearest crowd control unit, so as better to get tenderly sodomized by mildly irate pygmies.


          Humble Q. Talent, Esq. III

    • This is an exercise in balancing conflicting ethical demands. It is not ethical, per se, to deny refugees safe haven. It is, however, ethical to deny an unknown number of potential terrorists into the the country.

      Given that 8 terrorists killed 130 in France, if we assume that even 0.015% of the 65,000 refugees we admit are terrorists, then we could expect 160 American deaths!

      Thus we are presented an ethical choice to protect American soil with unintended but unavoidable negative consequences abroad.

    • Legal immigrants are vetted, however. This is the “nobody’s perfect” rationalization logic. That fact that we can’t prevent everything means that we shouldn’t bother to try to to prevent what we can.

      I think HT sufficiently addresses your first sentence. An official cannot be ethical who is incompetent and irresponsible.

      • Jack,
        “This is the ‘nobody’s perfect’ rationalization logic.”
        It wasn’t anything because there was no point being made, simply a question asked without any agenda behind it. So, it’s a superfluous statement.

        Humble Talent and yourself, then, didn’t understand my question. I said nothing about “an official,” nor did I ask whether incompetence or irresponsibility made someone ethical. Only that acting both incompetent and irresponsible is not necessarily UNethical.

        As an example, cooking ounces of macaroni only to then place it in a giant bowl in my backyard in order to appease the Flying Spaghetti Monster is neither of competent or responsible, but I don’t know that it could be called unethical. Who is ultimately harmed? What ethical law is broken? Certainly being an idiot, silly, or misguided don’t have direct moral implications (unless the silliness or idiocy lure one into unethical action).

        In summation, I apologize for having wasted everyone’s time.

        Neil A, Dorr

    • Neil, no one says immigration policy / refugee policy / asylum policy must be consistent across every nation we’re considering. I don’t even think an “equal protection” argument could be made.

      I imagine we decreased immigration from Germany and Japan during the years of 1941-1945…

      • Haha, actually we confined a number of German and Japanese non-citizens who were also not permanent residents. This was normal process for the time, also happened to Americans caught overseas, and shouldn’t be confused with the confining of the Isei and Nisei Japanese Americans and their removal from the West Coast (which is actually more nuanced than a lot of folks would have you believe.

  6. Steve,
    “…which is actually more nuanced than a lot of folks would have you believe.”

    I’m not sure that the violation of civil liberties and basic freedoms can be excused (even partially) by arguing it was tactical. Even if it was effectual at stopping spies (I’ve actually seen a lot to suggest internment had the opposite effect), it was overkill and those harmed suffered far more than the U.S. did at the hands of the traitors attempted to contain.

    But again, I haven’t had the chance to run that logic through every possible scenario. Best to you!

    Neil A. Penny

    • I could just refer you to James Dunnigan and Alfred Nofi’s “War in the Pacific,” which sets it out quite nicely. However, since I doubt you’d read it, I’ll set it forth briefly. Spy rings were known to exist among the Japanese Americans on the West Coast, where it would be possible to pass along information about deployments, what naval vessels were sailing where and in what condition, etc. However, the government and the technology were not up to rooting all these spy rings out, nor did they want it to get out that the rings had been discovered. So they moved them off the west coast. A good number of them were able to leave the camps, get jobs elsewhere, and do fine, although it must have galled them that the west coast was off limits. By the end of the war, the camps consisted mainly of the very young, the very old, the completely unskilled, and those who could not speak English or could not speak it well enough to make their way about. Did it suck? You bet. Could it be handled differently now? Yes, technology has come a long way. Did the 442d regimental combat team do really well in Europe? Yes, but so what? If you have an alternative that would have worked, I’m all ears. What I am not interested in is the way this episode is over-featured and highlighted at the expense of the big picture of WWII, for frankly no other reason than to put the US in the worst possible light and suggest that somehow the whole war effort was tainted and not so great an achievement. I’ve even heard of textbooks that reduce WWI to three paragraphs: one on the internment, one on the damage done by the bomb, and one on everything else. WTF?

      • Comments:

        1. It was a minor aspect of the WWII story, for sure.
        2. In retrospect, it was still an over-reaction based on fear, panic and racism (to a lesser extent: Germans were interned too).
        3. Such over-reactions have always occurred and will always occur when what feels like an existential crisis hits without warning. We have just three of these since 1812: Lincoln’s assassination, Pearl Harbor, and 9-11. Isolating the measures taken after any of them from the category is historically inept.
        4. You can’t blame the victims of the internment for regarding this as an unforgivable breach of civil rights as well as a mortal insult. It was both.
        5. I believe the incident is especially important to remind those who would sanctify FDR, Ear Warren and William O. Douglas that the incident blackens their legacies to a significant extent.
        6. The distinction between that and the Syrian refugees is total: the Japanese were citizens; the Syrians are not. No comparison.

      • Steve-O,
        ” .. since I doubt you’d read it ..”

        Why? Because I’m close-minded? Stupid? Or it just makes you feel better to imagine yourself as more well-read? Also, I didn’t argue your point, I only offered the rebuttal that the means in this case didn’t justify their desired ends. If you disagree, that’s valid, but there’s no reason to work so hard to “disprove” what something asserted as an opinion.

        “I suppose that is more substantive than just one ‘.'”
        I give up, though I really did ask nicely,

        “Then I still don’t understand the question.”

        Can something be labelled “ethical” simply because it’s competent and responsible and, on the flip side, can something be called unethical simply for being incompetent and irresponsible?

        “unethical set up
        unappetizing smugness

        Me, or him?

        I really don’t understand why everyone feels the need to offer me snark and rudeness. I make arguments and get rebuffed and talked down to, so I’ve limited myself to mere questions. Stating them as such and adding no commentary afterwards. Even if I did, I’m far from even the worst partisan or fire-breather to regular this forum, so I don’t get why mine even get noticed.

        I’m really, really sorry to you all. Please, no more Internet shaming.

        Neil A. Dorr

        • “Because I’m close-minded? Stupid?”

          Dunno about that. Not everyone is like the nearest thing I have to a gf, who won’t read anything I recommend because “it’s just more pro-war, far-right crap” (her words not mine), BUT, since I’m sure you’ve got more important things to do, just maybe you might not go buy a book and read it on my say so?

          • Humble Talent,
            Please stop. I have no opinion on the matter, honestly. I do not think I am right or that I’m being crucified, it just really hurts my feelings.

        • Neil:

          Can something be labelled “ethical” simply because it’s competent and responsible?

          No, but since competence and responsible conduct are both consistent with trust and trustworthiness, there can’t be too many examples of conduct possessing these qualities that wouldn’t be ethical. Extremely controlling parenting, perhaps. Conduct can be competent and responsible but unnecessarily cruel. The problem is that those are very inclusive values, especially responsible. For example, unfair conduct is likely to be irresponsible in some respect.

          Can something be called unethical simply for being incompetent and irresponsible? Sure. By definition: those are ethical values, and the absence of them makes conduct unethical.

          • Jack,
            So there’s no in-between? Something is either ethical or unethical — it can’t just be silly or amoral? Again, I’m not expert [I.E. THIS IS ONLY A SUPPOSITION NOT A STATEMENT OF FACT], but that doesn’t right true with me.

            Sometimes things just are. Not good, not bad, just things that happened. No?


        • Neil
          It’s smug and passive aggressive to make overly patient I’m-sorry-you-may-not-completely-understand-the-brilliance-of-my-questions-so-kindly-keep-your-answers-civil requests. I can almost see you looking down your nose.

          • Wyo,
            I couldn’t pass college to save my life and owing to bad choices, I’m not even eligible to vote. Please understand, I don’t think myself smarter than anyone.

            Please stop. These are all misunderstandings. I really was just trying to ask questions. Please.


  7. Ignorance is not a wise basis for public policy. Too many Americans operate on the belief that other people from different cultures think and behave in accordance with our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. They do not.

    We need to understand the social and cultural mores of other peoples. Because someone is a refugee does not mean that he is a good person. Bad people can be victims.

    If Americans were so great at identifying murderous thugs, then why did we miss Eric Rudolph or Timothy McVeigh? Why do we have Americans gunning down other Americans on college campuses almost routinely? The answer is simple — we are unable to identify violence prone terrorists even when they are American born and bred.

    We Americans are incompetent at identifying potential terrorists from a part of the world, where terrorism is a way of life.

  8. For me this “admit all the refugees” attitude is particularly offensive. I waited almost a decade for a Green Card, coming here because my personal values match the American society more than my native one, bringing something of value to thus country, and hoping to build on top of it: A better home for my children (them being US citizens). Now I’m told I am less valued than potentially dangerous immigrants who do not see themselves as Americans (really, how many of those are planning to integrate in the broader societal context?). It really pisses me off.

  9. “I’ve given up trying to understand the man.”

    I don’t know – if he’s not an outright socialist, he looks at the world through a Marxist lens. He may not follow the tenets of communism, but the philosophy behind it – consumerism and production are bad, profits are bad, individuality subsumed by the community, zero-sum game economic and social ideas, conflict theory, use value/exchange value, intellectual superiority of emotional vs. empirical…

    And we need to remember that one of his idols and friends was Dr. Edward Said, who wrote the book “Orientalism”. Said was fairly racist in saying that white people (Europeans and Americans) couldn’t analyze the Middle East because they’re racist, but Arabs are not because they’re not white. Said also believed that all the problems of the Middle East were caused by white people as well. When all his actions are shown, all his “incompetencies” arise from ideological linking to a professor who believed western civilization was evil.

    I would say that with his doubling-down on accepting Syrian refugees, up to 100,000 now is what he wants expedited, along with his waiving of criminal illegal immigrants, his constant desire for gun confiscation (new:, his support for the more terrible and riotous aspects of the BLM movement, the coverups, the DoJ as a cudgel against anyone he doesn’t like…

    I would still love to think he’s just a naive, incompetent 19 year old Marxist succored by socialist professors, manipulated by anger and youth into a worldview that dissipates, usually, by the mid-twenties. I’d love to think he’s an incompetent or naive hippy liberal who’s just misguided.

    However, he’d at least be batting something in favor of liberty, freedom, common sense. As awful, evil, incompetent as Bernie Sanders is, he’s gotten a couple issues right. Not Obama. He may just be a narcissist. Or there m ay besomething far worse lurking underneath, and the thought is much too terrible to think about for too long.

  10. The Question: Is it competent and responsible (ergo ethical) for the the U.S. accept 10,000 Syrian refugees (or 65,000, as Hillary Clinton advocates) in the U.S., knowing that it is statistically certain that some of them will carry the threat of Islamic terrorism with them?

    The Answer: No. Of course not. How can a rational person advocate such a foolish policy?

    Despite all evidence to the contrary, may I request that for the sake of argument that I be considered a “rational person”?

    It is statistically certain that some well-documented visitors or immigrants to the USA will commit crimes. The devil though is in the details. How many. What kind of crime. What evidence do we have. Is the risk any greater than for “natural born citizens” and if so, by how much. No-one at this point is advocating a totally “closed border” approach in the USA, refusing entry to all foreigners whatsoever, even though that would definitely prevent some crime, and even save lives. We have to look at costs as well as benefits.

    Regarding refugees, I could equally well argue, citing many historical precedents (though with no guarantee that just because this has happened every other time, that it will happen this time too) that refugees from trouble-spots and who are fleeing hostile powers are a multi-generational vital national security resource.

    The best agents against the Axis during WWII came from the pool of refugees. Sons and daughters of those who fled Stalin’s terror were later vital assets behind the Iron Curtain. SE Asia is riddled with US “agents of influence”, and China’s big worry is the large number of Chinese Americans whose allegiance is to the USA.

    Here, how else will we get a pool of people who are ideologically opposed to our enemies, who possess local knowledge, who speak with local dialects? Who are likely to indoctrinate their children and grandchildren with attitudes inimical to our enemies?

    What evidence do we have that there will be more Daesh infiltrators amongst them than in the many who come via more regular routes, all with the very, very best passports money can buy?

    • Different times. The terror cells and methods of modern terrorism, as well as the available technology, and the unique world view of radiacl Islam make the periods beyond comparison. There are reasonable risks, and unreasonable risks. Without screening procedures, this is an unreasonable risk. The benefits of admitting so many refugees are speculative and minimal. The risks are speculative and catastrophic. As I wrote in the other post, it’s an easy call.

      Your argument creeps close to a rationalization I haven’t added now, but may have to call “Zoebrain’s Dream”: “You never know!” or “Maybe it will work out!”

      • The thing is, yes, refugees can be recruited to strike back against the enemy, but the enemy can install spies and saboteurs among the refugees.. After all, the Nazis managed to sneak saboteurs on U.S. soil back in the 1940’s. See Alex Abella, Scott Gordon (January 2003). Shadow Enemies: Hitler’s Secret Terrorist Plot Against the United States. The Lyons Press. ISIS is essentially their spiritual successor.

        • Exactly how many of these saboteurs were refugees? As opposed to, say, being landed on beaches via U-boat?

          Look at the Duquesne spy ring. Nearly all had come to the US before the Nazis came to power, they weren’t fleeing them. The rest were seamen or in one case, an airline steward, and not of German nationality.

          Now take a look at how many consignments of drugs – and drug lords – enter the US.

          Forbidding the entry of refugees as a “security risk” is security theatre.

          • Irrelevant, Zoe. The questions to ask are, 1) Why we have open borders that allow drug runners and enforcers to pass into this country from Mexico and, 2) how many of these “poor refugees” ARE refugees and not men hostile to America.

            • I disagree as to the irrelevance. You’re leaving the front door wide open while making a fuss out of installing bars and deadlocks on windows.

              The years spent in refugee camps tends to winnow out amateur agents. Think about it – you have a scarce resource. You can either make use of it by training in camps, then sending over with false passports to exactly where you want them, or have them untrained and wasting year after year in some tent city in the hope that they might at some future date be sent somewhere useful.

              You’re more in danger by American citizens radicalised with the US – see Boston Bombing etc. All the attackers in France were French or Belgian residents, as far as we can tell.

              • So you’re more in danger from American nut jobs…so then it’s prudent to add more risk? That’s the “hey, you already have two deadly drugs killing people, tobacco and booze, so why not legalize pot and cocaine and crystal meth too! And people really say that…because they are biased toward the supposed virtues you get in the trade off. It’s a bad trade-off. The US is the #1 target of ISIS and is still on the Al Qaeda hit list. Kumbaya isn’t worth the carnage.Simple as that.

                • Islamic State has frequently said one of its goals is to stop refugees from fleeing Syria by any means possible, and tells refugees they are committing “a major dangerous sin” by attempting to flee the war and entering countries where they will be assimilated or integrated into “Christianity, atheism or liberalism.”

                  The group has used photos and video of children who have drowned in its propaganda, telling refugees they are throwing away their “lives and souls” by going to Europe.

                  Four of the five attackers so far identified were French citizens.

                  An international manhunt is underway for 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, who was born and raised in Belgium. Police believe he took part in the attacks with his two brothers — one of whom is dead, and the other was arrested.

                  French police are hunting for a second fugitive they say is directly involved in the deadly Paris attacks.

                  Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was raised in Brussels, is believed to be the mastermind of the assault.


                  So… looking at the facts… exactly, or even approximately, how many refugees have been involved in terrorist attacks in the USA or Europe?

                  You’re a lawyer. I’m asking you to look at this from a factual, not an emotional basis. I won’t say “hysterical” as that would be an ad hominem.

                    • Of course! It’s not a matter of fanatical murdering terrorists, but of the islamophobic Westerners who want to keep them out of their countries and deny their people the benefits of the caliphate. Why didn’t I see this sooner??

                  • Believe me, I have no emotional stake in this issue at all, though I live at Terrorist Ground Zero.

                    “How many refugees have been involved in terrorist attacks in the USA or Europe?” is an irrelevant question. How many planes had crashed into tall buildings and the Pentagon before 9-11? The security was still absurdly weak, and it came home to roost. Our Democratic politicians are saying that the refugees are safe. because of “thorough vetting.” I gather you agree that this is bull shit. Why should anyone here trust a policy that has to be sold with lies, by proven incompetents? Your explanation—hey guys, some terrorists might slip through, but they might slip through anyway, lighten up!—will not carry the day. So are you advocating the lie?

          • So what? SMP is exactly correct. There was no equivilent of ISIS or Al Quida. Nothing clsoe. This isn’t drugs or spies. These are ruthless fanatics who cut people’s heads off. We have a “vetting” administration that screws up everything it touches, followed by lies, cover-ups, and fingerpointing.

            Yes or no question: Are you saying that the Syrians can safely be admitted without vetting, and that it is safe and responsible to admit 10-65000 refugees without reliable screening? Sounds like it to me.

            Hint: Yes is irresponsible, no eliminates your argument.

            • I must admit, when I said I was still looking for a genuine argument for allowing the Syrians in, I didn’t expect “well, it wouldn’t have hurt 70 years ago!” Just didn’t see that coming. Nope, not at all. Not at all.

                • Ok, so the assertion is that the risk factor is similar? I disagree, but even using that as a premise… What’s your point? I mean…. using history as a road map… America interred the Japanese. Immigration was slowed down and refugees were almost unheard of. America was loathe to take Jews, never mind Germans.

            • We have a “vetting” administration that screws up everything it touches, followed by lies, cover-ups, and fingerpointing.

              So vetting is irrelevant, as it’s ineffective. That’s arguable true, though I’d disagree, it’s not *completely* useless. Not even under this administration, or the last.

              Can Syrian refugees be admitted, vetted or not, with a 100% no-risk guarantee of complete safety? No.

              But if that’s the standard, why is it only applied to them, and not to others statistically more dangerous?

              • No one said that ANY system was 100% effective, Zoe. Once again, that’s not the point. Only an imbecile or a criminal would deliberately seek to import thousands of able bodied young men (refugees??) from a nation crawling with Christian haters and spread them around their country with no real safeguards or means of identification. Wherever they go in Europe, crime and violence becomes rampant. They don’t assimilate and they don’t become productive citizens. They merely seize all they can, with their final goal being the entire host country. Nor do they even bother to hide it anymore. They aren’t refugees, Zoe. They’re an invading army of Jihad. Try and get that through your skull.

                • The TSA has a 5% success rate at finding guns and explosives despite excellent equipment (equipment more than sufficient to find such things). Trying to vet people with no documents, who have been raised in the Islamic Middle East will be much more difficult. Here are some sections of recent news articles to give you an idea what we are up against.

                  “Many moderate Muslims around the world blamed the formal and informal education system in the Middle East for the rise of Islamic terrorism. On page 7 of the Islamic education textbook for the second grade in Iraqi schools, there is a definition provided for “the ones that Allah’s anger will be upon.” The definition is “Jews and those who are similar to Jews.” The Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi, who won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014, says that “those who are similar to Jews” mean Christians. ”

                  “The Shiites, the communists, the Jews, the Christians. Oh Allah. Those unjust. Divide them, weaken their strength, and make them suffer the worst. Oh Allah, living and existing by his own, allow the jihadists to behead them,” -The Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in a broadcast carried over the Middle East.

                  “Muslims should be fair to non-Muslims. They can do business with them and should not attack them. But that does not mean they should not hate them and avoid them,” a senior Saudi cleric said in a background discussion with Reuters last year.”

                  Now, most of these refugees were brought up in this environment. Because of this, it will be difficult to distinguish with interviews those who hate us at the level that is common in their society and those who hate us enough to attack us. So, we will have to assume that the accuracy of detection will be much less than that of TSA screeners.

                  Summary, over 95% of the terrorists will get through our screening process. Is THAT reasonable?

        • ISIS is essentially their spiritual successor.

          Well, yes, of course.
          Nazism hasn’t been eradicated – but it has been, at least temporarily, contained. To a degree where it’s not as much of a threat as it once was, for now.

          I just hope that we don’t have to go the full Hamburg and Dresden again, on either European Nazis, or Daesh.

          • Just what point (if any) are you attempting to make? Where do the Nazis come into any of this. You seem to be obsessed by a notion that they’ll goosestep up Broadway any minute like they did the Champs d’Elysse. They’re mostly dead! We’re talking about a modern day threat that is all too real.

    • Zoe — I can’t even engage in this conversation so I thank you for trying. I’m at a complete loss for words about what I have read here today.

    • You’ll have to explain to me how this is either news or relevant. Yes, we all know, or should, that the FDR anti-semites had blood on their hands. We also know there was no radical Jewish terrorist group trying to get a foothold in the states. That really is the issue, you know. Not refugees.

      • There were radical European terrorist groups, and vetting to ensure that German Jews, Dutch Jews, German Nazis, and Dutch Nazis weren’t mingled was exactly the same problem as we have now.

        • Oh, stop it. We’re not talking about some fringe historical footnote wacko groups now.. There was no terrorism on the scale we have seen the past 20 years. It’s a desperate comparison, and perhaps unintentionally, a nasty and misleading one. The Jews were blocked because of racism. I don’t care if the refugee group is Aryans, Asians or Care Bears–if they are likely to include ISIS members, they don’t come in. Suggesting this is based on bigotry is ad hominem at its worst.

        • Here comes the assault of moral relativism… based on a unit raised by the SS seventy years ago! In fact, the Waffen SS sponsored a number of foreign legions from the conquered nations of Europe, to include a number of them composed of Moslem Bosnians and Albanians, not to mention anti-Soviet Russians in a multitude. Now… so the hell what?!

  11. Whenever Obama says, “That’s not who we are”, he refers to a worldview shared only by the foolish and the power seekers who have indentured them. Obama has no real idea of what America is and wants none. He seeks an America bound in his own image. To that end, he will unleash any scourge upon those who defy him. If it means importing entire populations into this country to subdue the “counterrevolutionaries”, so be it. Treason, to him, entails only opposition to his goals.

    • Well, he is only being consistent. He actually hates America. He has stated that many times that he views those who disagree with him are his enemies.(“Were going to punish our enemies and were gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,”). Since his approval rating has been as low as 38%, that would assume that he views the majority of America as his enemy. As far as I can tell, the only group he criticized after the Paris bombing was America.

      • “As far as I can tell, the only group he criticized after the Paris bombing was America.”

        You can’t possibly believe this is true.

  12. You said: “For a leader, the choice is obvious, because for a leader, it can’t be a question answered objectively. The President of the United States is not permitted the luxury of altruism, or objectivity.”

    I don’t see why not.

    We practice altruism all the time, both inside and outside the country. If there is a natural disaster we are there with aid and help in rebuilding. We put a lot of effort into the eradication of small pox and polio even though neither was a big deal within our country. However, helping out the Middle Eastern refuges is not necessarily a matter of altruism but a response to a situation that we bear some portion responsibility for its happening. ISCS would not have come into existence without desert storm and the resulting occupation which was a total failure. The practice of altruism does not require that we accept any refuges into the US, but it does require that we do something to make the refugee camps more livable and safer. I don’t believe we are able to put “humpty-dumpy” back together again.

    In my way of thinking objectivity is the ability to make decisions and carry out plans that have the most probability of successfully achieving the decided upon goals given facts being dealt with. If the goal is the wellbeing of the American People above that of all others so be it but let’s go about our affairs in such a manner as to achieve that goal. Insuring that none of them is admitted into the US and doing nothing else is not an option either. Nor is the destabilization of Europe in the interest of the US or the safety of our citizens.

    For fourteen or fifteen years we have been dropping bombs, supplying arms, training armies, and other forms of nation building in the middle east and we should ask ourselves are we safer than we were before George W. started this mess with the invasion of Iraqi? And how has Obama’s continuation of the violence furthered our mission to bring human rights to the rest of the world?

    The link is to an essay on what we should call this thing we are in in the Middle East. You have to wade through some verbiage or you can just skip it. Bacevich is always good commentary.

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