The GOP Slams the Golden Door

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Donald Trump, as caricatured by Phoenix-based photographer Gage Skidmore.

The Daesh terrorist attacks in Paris have, once again, opened up a schism in our national psyche. Do we take in Syrian refugees or close our borders? Knee-jerk reactions from many of the GOP candidates and red state governors is to keep all of the refugees out, out, out. Shut the doors, turn off the lights, we’ll pretend no one is home.

Whose surprised that the Republicans are embracing Islamophobia and feeding into the xenophobia and intolerance of their far-right base? Sen. Ted (Canadian) Cruz of Texas introduced legislation to bar entry from anyone coming from Syria — except Christians, of course.

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This is completely contrary to the values that we have historically espoused. The US is made up of strangers of all backgrounds and religions, including Islam. To have some noxious politician try to take away the one thing that makes America a beacon of hope, of religious tolerance, to the rest of the world is downright un-American. To force a religious test on those suffering from the worst atrocities of religious persecution is utterly shameful.

These refugees are families, children, grandparents, parents — literally fleeing from a civil war, a terrorist war, in their homeland — a homeland hijacked by evil, murderous monsters. So desperate to get to anywhere safe, they risk their lives and the lives of their children. Better to get on flimsy, rubber, overloaded boats than to stay somewhere not yet blown up. Better to pay extortionists thousands of dollars to buy a seat on a floating death trap not knowing if they’ll make it to shore.

And many of them do not:

…There are stories of smugglers abandoning their clients in the dunes and of dozens dying of thirst. ‘We suffered many things in the desert,’ says a 21-year-old Darfurian, Mohamed Abdallah, who made it to the Libyan coast only to be arrested as an illegal immigrant. ‘A lot of people died in the desert — my brothers and also my uncle’s boy. My friends died also. Just me and my nephew survived.’

These are the ones to be afraid of? What Daesh member would go through a harrowing trip, pretend to be a refugee, walk hundreds of miles across openly hostile countries and depend on smugglers just to get to, say, France, just to whip out a suicide vest and finally get to blow something up of their own — themselves?

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Daesh (which sounds like the Kardashian brand “Dash”) rakes in $3 million a day from stolen oil they sell on the black market. Why would their brethren risk the lives of their brothers in arms, risk the planned attack, when they can use their millions to safely smuggle their suicide bombers into targeted countries?

According to nearly all Republican governors, behind every traumatized Syrian mother is a terrorist in his (or her) 20s, pretending to be a refugee. Unless, again, he’s a self-professed Christian — then, hey, welcome to America, come on in! Here’s a question for Sen. Cruz:

If a terrorist can pretend to be a refugee, why can’t they pretend to be a Christian?

What these pandering cowards don’t seem to understand is that immigration is a federal issue, not a states’ rights issue. Imagine if 50 states had independent immigration policies. You’d think a sitting governor would understand the law. I imagine they do, actually, but seeing as many are up for re-election next year, I assume they would rather whip up their base by instilling fear and supporting religious intolerance even if they know they have no legal leg to stand on.

Nor do they acknowledge that they’re advocating the same religious fanaticism that Daesh aims to impose on the world. The Republican right-wing prays to create a religious caliphate — a Christian one. Recently, Cruz, now-former presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and still-running former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, attended the ironically named National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines. The leader of this conference, Kevin Swanson, is a well-known religious fanatic who openly embraces putting homosexuals to death. (Nothing says “pro-life” more than killing.) Swanson also believes that President Obama should “submit to Jesus Christ as ‘the king of the President of the United States’.” When Cruz was asked how important it is for a US president to fear God, he said:

Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander-in-chief of this country.

Sounds like the kind of religious extremism that a leader of Daesh would say. (To understand the kind of people these GOP candidates are associating with, read more about Pastor Swanson here.)

The overall response of the GOP varsity team to the good Pastor’s outrageous statements? Crickets. Except for Cruz, who offered his version of the old standby “Whaaa? I barely know the guy! I never met him, know nothing about him, just stopped by to say hi, that’s all!”

His actual excuse to ABC’s Jake Tapper was this:

I don’t know what this gentleman has said or hasn’t said.

Religious fanaticism isn’t something a continent away, it’s right here at home. Listen to Donald Trump’s quasi-fascist rhetoric. Look at the hyper-nationalistic, closed-border policy to non-Christians proposed by the GOP.

The US has been terrorized for years. Usually by a white guy in his 20s with automatic and semi-automatic weapons strapped to his body. Let’s ask the survivors of mass shootings in malls, theaters, schools, churches and even highways who they fear more: a Christian man armed to the teeth, open-carrying a killing machine, or a bedraggled family arriving on our shores with only the clothes on their backs.