Sunday, December 6, 2015

The illusion of discriminating between refugees

Jeffrey Tayler posits in a Salon piece that Donald Trump might be right about one thing (contrary to all the abundant evidence that he is a serial liar): we should be very careful about accepting more refugees from Syria. The facts, he says, favor caution: Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise and has as alarming a rate of infection as Ebola (my simile, not his). Tayler's okay with accepting those refugees who are Christian. But, perhaps as a sop to people who find discriminating on the basis of religion to be not just immoral but exceedingly stupid, he adds, "why not consider seeking out atheist Syrian asylum seekers, few though they may be?"

Tayler is an idiot.

I would guess that people have lied on their applications about their religious affiliation without our catching it. Moreover, Tayler cites the statistic that, of 66 Muslims arrested for plotting terrorist attacks in the U.S. in the last year and a half, "four out of 10 were converts to Islam". Syrian Christians and atheists aren't going to be more immune to conversion than anybody else.

No evaluation for asylum is going to reveal whether somebody is a threat in waiting. No amount of interviewing and fingerprinting and database-searching is going to reveal somebody's heart or peer into his future.

We can't totally foreclose another terrorist attack. We are going to have to learn to live with the risk.

I say, we should honor the promise Obama made and admit 10,000 Syrian refugees after the requisite vetting. It's more than a lot of people want and a lot less than we, a very prosperous nation, probably owe the world, but again, that's the promise we made.

Either that, or just close the border to everybody.

Just stop the hand-wringing already. Don't pretend we can just let in the "good" kind of refugee. That's a fucking illusion, and I'm sick of all the fucking illusions already hobbling us (e.g., "climate change isn't real").

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