In last week’s column I observed that, while the Paris attacks of November 13 inspired some rightbloggers to call for Gulf War III, most seemed to sense that, even for their readers, that might be a bridge too far. So they “were more comfortable demanding that both Europe and America close their borders to Arab refugees…”
A week has passed but the pattern holds. The brethren are only lightly rattling their sabres (or, more accurately, their lightsabers), but they still consider those wretches who crawled out of war-torn Syria to be a danger to the West — and polls suggest most Americans agree with them. Nonetheless, some rightbloggers actually seem a little uncomfortable with their POV. Guilty consciences? Or are they just hedging their bets?
Refugees aren’t their only concern. There are also the traditional complaints that this crisis, like every crisis, means President Barack Obama is finally “over.” “The reviews are in: the whole world, friend and foe, left and right, east and west, north and south, understands the President of the United States to be a naïf and a fool,” said David Gelernter at National Review. (No poll results supplied, alas; maybe he used a Magic 8-Ball…or just an 8-ball.) In a piece called “From Missouri to Paris,” the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger wrote that the Paris attacks “represent the inability of primary social institutions to defend themselves” — just like students protesting racism in Missouri. Henninger also denounced Edward Snowden, “the pitched battles over the Patriot Act,” “the global left,” Fahrenheit 9/11, et alia. Someone’s still sore about 2008!
But the escapees from Syria were their primary whipping boys. I hardly need to round up standard-issue angry-scared rightblogger refugee bashing for you good people, as any trip to any conservative site these days fairly pustulates with them. At National Review, for example, you’ll see stories like “The Immigration Crisis that Made Paris Possible” (“Statistically, it’s impossible there are no trouble-makers among them”); “‘Not Welcome’” (“The United States should apply an extraordinary level of scrutiny to visitors from countries whose main exports are jihad — before, during, and possibly even after their stays”); “Who Believes Obama’s Crew Can Vet the Syrian Refugees?” (by Michelle Malkin, author of a book about how the Japanese-American internment camps in World War II were awesome); “Pockets of Resistance to the Refugee Industry”; “The Troubling Math of Muslim Migration”; and dozens of other stories about how ladders were made to be pulled up.
When it was pointed out to rightbloggers that refugees were vanishingly unlikely to commit such acts, their sputtering revved until it resembled Jack Benny’s old Maxwell, e.g.: “Moron Dem Governor says refugees have NEVER committed acts of terror — Boston bombing doesn’t count?” headlined soopermexican at The Right Scoop. Never mind that the Tsarnaev family entered the U.S. on tourist visas, he’s rolling: “But even if this wasn’t the case, so what?” soopermexican cried, throwing the gun back at his pursuers, “no guerrilla terror group had ever flown planes into American skyscrapers, and yet liberals take absolute glee in blaming Bush for not preventing it.” In the immortal words of Olson Johnson, now who can argue with that?
Doing their best to keep up with rightblogger rhetoric were their Republican buddies, who fell over each other to denounce refugees — like Rep. Louie Gohmert, who guestblogged “Despite Obama’s Claims, We Are Not Able to Properly Screen Syrian Refugees” at PJ Media. The piece declared that Obama planned “to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into our country” (“tens of thousands” being his Common Core reading of 10,000) and other bullshit.
The zenith of xenophobia was expectedly reached by Donald Trump, whose nutty ideas included closing mosques and even maintaining a sort of Muslim registry whereby he could track them to see if they laughed during United 93 or something.
Rubbish, said rightbloggers, Trump said no such thing — or, if he did, was tricked into it by wily Liberal Media. Byron York of the Washington Examiner explained, “How the crazy Trump Muslim database story got started.” It began when a Yahoo Politics reporter caught Trump “yeah-whatever” agreeing to any old crazy thing he said, and obviously Trump couldn’t be held accountable for that.
And when, later, Trump confirmed that he would consider a database, York further elucidated, he couldn’t be held to that, either, because “Trump’s offhand decision to tell MSNBC he would implement a database was an enormously stupid thing to do,” and since when are candidates responsible for stupid things they say? “Sometimes those are attempts to create a story out of nothing,” warned York, and “the Muslim database affair seems a particularly audacious example of that.” Close one, Donald! Let’s be careful out there.
When Trump later claimed to have seen “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering the 9/11 attacks from the Islamic Republic of Jersey City, Liberal Media was also to blame, per John Hinderaker of Power Line. “Why do all of these liberals express themselves with such categorical certainty?” huffed Hinderaker. “If a liberal wants to say, ‘Well, sure, there were some who celebrated the attacks, but there weren’t very many, so it’s OK,’ fine. They can make that argument…But the hysterical and unqualified denunciations of Trump by the liberal media are far more misleading than his original statements were.” In Hell, Joe Goebbels is giving Hinderaker a golf clap.
The general anti-refugee air emboldened hardcore anti-immigrant types. National Review’s Mark Krikorian attended a Congressional subcommittee hearing about immigration and reported, “the Democrats followed the president’s lead in dismissing concerns about security. I think one or another of them… ended up ticking off every cliché I’d expected: the ‘wrong side of history,’ the Holocaust, the SS St. Louis, and the internment of the Japanese. (I don’t think slavery came up.)” Haw! Imagine, trying to appeal to Mark Krikorian with stuff like that!
But some of the brethren seemed less comfortable with their own anti-refugee arguments. It was almost as if they sensed that they were in conflict with some…what do you call them?…basic American principles. Or something.
When Obama brought up America’s immigrant tradition and the Statue of Liberty and all that, a clearly stung Rich Lowry of National Review called him “sanctimonious” and asked, “We admit about 70,000 refugees a year. Is that the American level? Or would 700,000 be more American?…By any reasonable standard we are justified in telling Europe that we have already done our part on migration, thank you very much.” Hmmph — calling us anti-refugee, he said, slamming the Golden Door.
“There Is Nothing ‘Compassionate’ about Obama’s Refugee Policy,” insisted Lowry’s colleague David French. Really, he asked, “is it compassionate to your countrymen — the people you’ve sworn to protect — to admit those refugees when you know that ISIS has plans to embed jihadists among them… or is it more compassionate to take decisive action in the Middle East and defeat the jihadist army that is one of the primary sources of instability, thereby creating a way for refugees to return home and ensuring that adjacent allies don’t have to bear the entire burden of caring for the displaced?” When you think of it, it’s actually cruel to save refugees. Much better to blow the shit out of their homeland and ensure a better tomorrow for whoever survives.
At The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway was pissed that liberals were claiming Jesus Christ as an authority for accepting refugees. “An ‘ultra-liberal gay atheist university professor from Massachusetts’ wondered ‘How many conservatives who now turn away desperate Middle-Easterners seeking refuge will soon be putting up a Nativity?’” she scoffed. “…Like you, I love being lectured about human decency by people who defend Planned Parenthood.” Don’t they know liberalism is the opposite of Christianity?
I suggested guilty consciences before, but a more likely explanation is a dim awareness that, as Thanksgiving and Christmas roll up, even their loyal readers may find all this anti-refugee stuff hard to take. In which case, the best bet is to offer something that looks like a reason why their position isn’t out of keeping with the season. It’s doesn’t have to be good — it just has to exist. If we can just get past the holidays, and closer to the election, then these guys can forget about all those stupid non-fear emotions and really cut loose.