Gov. Dannel P. Malloy thinks Connecticut ought to open its arms to Syrian migrants. Of course, he wants assurances the migrants are appropriately vetted, the better to weed out suicide bombers and extremists. Why take the risk? There are times that xenophobia is adaptive. This is such a time.
Last weekend’s attacks on civilians in Paris was savage. ISIS claims responsibility for them, just as it seeks to expand its reach throughout the world. Its brand of Islamic fundamentalism is a scourge aiming at nothing less than the destruction of our way of life.
ISIS promises more and new attacks, some of them aimed at us, here in the United States. We quarantine those who are near an infectious disease until we are sure the risk of infection has passed. Why invite migrants from a region awash in blood and destruction to settle here? What assurances are there that terrorists are not embedded in their midst?
Call me a new convert to Islamophobia: I own it. Time and again, I’ve seen the Quran pressed into the service of slaughter. I am an intended victim, as are you.
Social media was immediately abuzz as news of the new slaughter broke: Terrorism has no religion, a popular meme said. Perhaps. But this particular brand of terror has a creed: Its vision of an Islamic jihad celebrates the death of Westerners and wants more blood.
Folks calling this a tragedy miss the point. Tragedies are horrible events. A flood. A hurricane. A fire. These can be tragedies. So, too, can an act of terror have tragic consequences. But terror has human causes. We can strike at its source in a way we cannot do at the origin of a tornado.
Calling the Paris slaughter a “tragedy” is a species of moral passivity.
There’s wax in my ears just now when Muslims of good will seek to remind me that Islam is a religion of peace. Don’t lecture me about my shortcomings in this dark hour. Police your own. If you are outraged about distortions of Islam, then strike out at those who distort it by acts of terror. Telling me to remain calm feels a lot like being fattened before the slaughter.
As a matter of law, the debate about whether the United States should take in Syrian migrants is puzzling. Under our federal system, the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration policy. It can decide whom to admit into the United States.
But what gives the federal government the authority to relocate migrants to particular states? Federalism typically gives to state government what is called the police power, the ability to regulate the health, education and welfare of state residents.
The federal government lacks the ability to order a state to accept migrants. At best, it can offer inducements in the form of federal funds to accept the migrants. States can refuse to accept the aid.
But can a state refuse to permit a person once in the country, whether a citizen or not, to reside within its borders? I don’t think so. The Constitution guarantees to all a right to travel freely between the states. While each state is sovereign in its limited sphere, it does not have control over its borders.
For the past several months, hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants have poured across Europe’s borders, all seeking refuge from the killing fields they once called home. Syria is a wasteland.
The West is called upon to absorb these immigrants in the name of our common humanity, and human rights. But, tell me, who will repair the ruins the migrants’ homelands have become when they are all happily settled in Western nations? And who, ominously, will assure us that salted away among the immigrants aren’t more young men like the young man who apparently came to France through Greece and then went on a killing spree in Paris?
Forgive me if I don’t feel like starting a welcome wagon here in Connecticut for any of these folks.
A deeper form of chauvinism, of arrogance, inspires this new debate on immigration. We’ve assumed that Syria, and, perhaps the Middle East in general, can never get it right, never live in peace. Hence, Syrians flee to the West, presumably to enjoy a better life.
Why not provide them temporary housing closer to their home so that they can return once ISIS has been defeated, once there is a regime change in Syria and the country can be rebuilt? Is no one considering that because we don’t think the Syrian people can help themselves?
I was relieved to see France’s Francois Hollande respond to the attacks on Paris by bombing ISIS targets. I’d be relieved to see overwhelming and lethal force rained on these new barbarians.
There is a powerful argument that violence begets violence: That yielding to the murderous rage the terrorists provoke serves only to accelerate the spiral of violence. No one wins a race to the bottom.
I understand all that. I really do.
But what if the bottom line is all that really matters here? What if there is a growing cadre of folks who really and truly believe that they will know no peace until the West is dead?
Perhaps trying to understand the causes of their hatred is a fool’s errand. Perhaps there comes a time when it is enough to say, simply, “Enough!” In a kill-or-be-killed world, I can live with blood on my hands.
In a better world, there would be no drone strikes, zapping the unwary without warning, killing them. Yet I had not a moment’s sorrow over the news that Jihadi John, the famous baritone executioner for ISIS who liked to behead people on YouTube, was killed.
I don’t need a civics lesson from Dannel Malloy just now, and hortatory nonsense about our heritage and way of life. A self-styled Islamic nation has declared war on the United States. Why play spin the bottle with destiny right now and welcome those who’d rather flee their homes than fight for them?
Call me a xenophobe. I don’t particularly care. Neither do the governors of at least 25 states who had the sense to say no this week to more Syrian refugees. Governor Malloy is wrong about welcoming migrants. Dead wrong.