The debate surrounding the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the confines of our U.S. borders follows a trite pattern of political debate: a set of common-sense conclusions are derived from inarguable realities, that, unfortunately for the sake of the American people, conflict with the left’s pathological idealization of multiculturalism. From the incessant amnesty-push for those here unlawfully, to the refusal to identify radical Islam by name, to the demonization of police officers and the irresponsible exaltation of the Black Lives Matter movement, the liberal grievance industry has throttled our culture passed the point of recognition.
The Syrian refugee debate currently consuming American media and lawmakers alike is no different. And in the court of public opinion, as well as the bounds of actual reality, the conservative argument has already won. How do we know? Because accusations of bigotry and xenophobia abound. Indeed, sure as the sky is blue, when a liberal is losing an argument on a substantive basis, you’re about to be called a racist.
Yet other than the left so sloppily showing their hand, the conservative push to stop a refugee influx displays other signs of intellectual victory, not necessarily due to rhetorical and philosophical mastery (though both are evident in myriad commentaries), but rather on recent events, declarations, patterns of assimilation and perhaps most damning, testimony from security officials serving in President Obama’s own administration. In short, the facts are simply on on our side.
Let’s start with the basic: despite deliberate obfuscation of the vetting process by the likes of President Obama, Secretary Clinton and other Democrat leaders, there is no way to adequately screen those seeking refuge from the Assad regime. Databases traditionally used to detect terrorist ties simply do not exist in Syria, a failed nation that does not have indoor plumbing, let alone a vast governmental database that certifies citizenship and tracks criminality. FBI Director James Comey testified to this fact, under oath, to the House Homeland Security Committee. Later, a director with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS subsidiary, reluctantly admitted the same. Other names to join the chorus? CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen.
If there is no venue through which our intelligence agencies can cross-check information, there is simply no way to ensure Syrian refugees are who they say they are. And the idea that the CIA can somehow create a makeshift database with adequate capabilities is quite simply a laughable assertion. Especially due to the fact that nearly all refugees are already settled elsewhere, and it is from these countries that they apply for American refuge.
While the majority of Syrians seeking entrance are surely peaceful, even one terrorist is one too many. Recent events have glaringly illuminated that ISIS affiliates will have convincing paperwork and a “long game” strategy. CNN notes that one of the Paris bombers “falsely declared himself to be a Syrian named Ahmad al Muhammad…and was allowed to enter Greece on October 3. From there he moved to Macedonia, then Serbia and Croatia, where he registered in the Opatovac refugee camp, the lawmaker said. Eventually, he made his way to Paris, where he was one of three men who blew themselves up at the Stade de France.” So yes, the notion that ISIS will not patiently and methodically attempt to capitalize on the refugee crisis is one of utter fantasy. Just because refugees must wait two years prior to entry (as all immigrants do, and often for longer stretches of time) does not mean ISIS infiltrators will be deterred. We are dealing with murderous, maniacal extremists who view martyrdom as the ultimate salvation. To them, time is of no consequence.
And in many ways, the issue of terrorists posing as refugees is not even the gravest concern. This week, The Wall Street Journal reports that in Germany, there is an increasing trend of local extremists recruiting newly-settled refugees who seek out Arabic-speaking mosques. The Islamists offer them aid in the form of food, shelter, transportation and overcoming the language barrier. Radicalization comes after trust is established. And with CNN reporting “unprecedented support for ISIS in the United States,” it would be foolish to believe the recruitment happening in Germany would not also happen here. Thus it is not so much a question of if a refugee is already a terrorist, but rather, if they have the capacity to become one. Do they sympathize with radical ideals, if not in action but in thought? Do they hold animosity towards the West? These are questions much harder to determine, and the uncertainty associated with them is unsettling.
As conservatives, we know that culture matters; it is intrinsically connected to our policy, our ideals and yes, our national security. It is not un-American (the opposite, in fact) to ensure that those we welcome across our borders either outright embrace, or at the very least, are open to the adoption of our founding principles. Syrian culture-politically and socially-is simply incompatible with American tradition. There is nothing xenophobic about acknowledging this fact. And while liberals are quick to cite European nations as beacons of tolerance due to their open border policies, the simple truth is this: we don’t want to be Germany or France or Switzerland or the United Kingdom, all which have seen massive cultural fragmentation and crime spikes since immigration from the Middle East was forged into overdrive. These are broad societal trends, yet specific to the Syrian refugee population, there is no reason to believe they will cease to continue. A recent poll by Arab Opinion Index found that one in eight refugees hold at least some positive feelings towards ISIS. This is a chilling statistic, and one that should be placed in the context of a culture already unaligned, to say it gently, with American sensibility.
Culture matters. Security matters. They are cohesive elements dependent on the other’s vitality. Prioritizing the safety of the American people is not a sign of cowardice. Protecting the culture that enables our prosperity is not xenophobic. We are not scared and we are not intolerant; conservatives simply recognize that for this nation to remain the shining city upon the hill, for the United States to remain the country that accepts more refugees and immigrants than any other, our sovereignty must be placed above all else. That is what makes us exceptional.