Thursday, November 19, 2015

Refusing asylum Syrian refugees is not who we are

State Sen. Charles Perry, a Lubbock Republican, asked Attorney General Ken Paxton if Gov. Greg Abbott has the authority to keep legal Syrian refugees out of Texas.

“Earlier this year ISIS released a list of potential future targets, (with) seven Texas cities explicitly mentioned: Abilene, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Wylie, Fort Hood, Bedford and Killeen,” Perry wrote.

“With this knowledge, it is even more important for our state to know what actions are available to protect Texans against potential threats by those looking to seek refuge in our country and our state,” he said.

That list got my attention.

I didn’t know San Antonio had been targeted by ISIS, along with dozens of small towns in 26 states.

Was this true?

It took about a minute to get the answer.

(Memo to Sen. Perry: Get some training on Google.)

ISIS didn’t make San Antonio and those towns “targets.”

Back in March, CBS reported that ISIS posted on the internet the names, photos and addresses of several dozen members of the Armed Forces and urged ISIS supporters here to kill them.

The Pentagon notified local law enforcement and asked them to provide surveillance and extra security for the service members, whose names had apparently been pulled from Facebook and other public sources.

This was a treacherous act by ISIS, but it is not the same as targeting cities.

Apparently there is a shortage of ISIS supporters in the United States.

No killings were reported.

Terrorists are in the business of inspiring terror, fomenting panic, spreading hysteria.

We don’t need politicians like Sen. Perry helping them by magnifying the threat.

President Obama, and the Express-News editorial page, have said that responding to terrorist threats by refusing to provide asylum to those fleeing ISIS — or restricting asylum to Syrian Christians as presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have suggested—is “not who we are.”

Unfortunately, too often it has been who we are.

The most glaring example came when, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, we imprisoned more than 120,000 American citizens simply for being of Japanese descent.

This resulted from hysteria fomented by a broad range of politicians and journalists.

These included the widely respected liberal columnist Walter Lippman.

Based on a dinner conversation with then-California Attorney General Earl Warren — yes, later the liberal Supreme Court chief justice — Lippman wrote that America was in “imminent danger of a combined attack from within and without.”

Yet there never was sabotage by Japanese Americans.

If you think that was because they were all placed behind barbed wire, consider this:
Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans made up 37 percent of Hawaii.

They weren’t interned because the island’s economy would collapse.

Yet, no “fifth column” was ever found there either.

The terrorism in Paris is partly a result of the fact that France and much of Europe has not been the assimilation machine that the United States has.

Anti-Muslim prejudice has produced slums in which unemployed young Muslims are a fertile ground for jihadist ideology.

Contrast that with the United States, where Muslims immigrants have thrived.

Very few from Syria have been admitted lately, but 12,600 have arrived this year alone from Iraq, another hot spot for terrorism.

Yes, we have had a small number of young people who left in hopes of getting jihadist training, but they have often been reported by their families and friends — who identify as Americans and are horrified at radical Islamist extremism.

Screening immigrants is important.

Still, our best hope for security lies not in fomenting fear, but in promoting confidence in the brilliantly successful 250-year-old experiment in immigration that is America.

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