Most of the refugees from Syria do not look like us. They do not look Western. They look different.
And we live in a world today where different can be dangerous.
On Thursday, two bombs killed 43 people in Beirut. It got scant attention compared with the bombs and guns that killed 129 people in Paris the next day. One reason had nothing to do with numbers.
Beirut is part of the Middle East, and Paris is part of the West, and we care more about the killing of Westerners.
We don’t like to say this.
Remember the picture of that little boy whose dead body washed ashore in Turkey? It really tugged at your heart.
His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was 3 years old. He drowned and washed onto the beach like a piece of debris.
His brother, Galip, age 5, also drowned, as did their mother, Rehan. They were Kurdish refugees from Syria.
Part of the reason our reaction to little Aylan was so strong is that he looked so Western. He was dressed in Western-style sports clothing — a red top, blue pants and sneakers with Velcro straps. You could just imagine how much he loved strapping on those shoes every morning.
The boys were trying to get to Canada but probably would have been delighted to make it to the United States — where at least 31 of our states would not be delighted with them.
More than half our country wants to ban Syrian refugees, though some states are willing to take Christian ones.
Why? Because Christians are more like us than Muslims, even though we are supposed to be a nation where all religions are treated equally.
(Muslim terrorists do kill Westerners. But we are supposed to be better than the terrorists. That’s how people are supposed to be able to tell us apart.)
Marco Rubio, who brags in every speech about how his father fled Cuba, once was considered a champion of immigrants, but not anymore.
“You can have 1,000 people come in, and 999 of them are just poor people fleeing oppression and violence,” Rubio said, “but one of them is an ISIS fighter. If that’s the case, you have a problem.”
“There’s no way to vet that out,” he continued. “There’s no background check system in the world that allows us to find that out, because who do you call in Syria to background check them?”
Ted Cruz was born in Canada of a Cuban father and — luckily for Cruz’s presidential hopes — a mother from Delaware. Cruz, too, gets all choked up when he talks about his father’s fleeing Fidel Castro’s tyranny.
But what about those fleeing tyranny today? Well, according to Cruz, it depends on their religion. No Muslim refugees should be allowed in America today, only Christian ones, because, says Cruz, “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
All this reminds me of the bitter chant from the ’60s: “If you’re white, all right. If you’re black, get back.” Today it’s religion instead of race. But it’s the same old hatred.
Barack Obama’s reaction to this has been shame and disgust.
He said Monday: “When I hear folks say that ‘well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims,’ when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are.”
But it is who we may become if one of these anti-immigrant jokers is elected president.
Take Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor talked to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, and Hewitt asked about those poor tiny refugee kids. Couldn’t we let them in?
“What if they were orphans under the age of 5?” Hewitt asked.
“You know, Hugh, we could come up with 18 different scenarios,” Christie said. “The fact is that we need appropriate vetting, and I don’t think orphans under 5 are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point. … We need to put the safety and security of the American people first.”
On a whim, I decided to check up on the religion of those Americans who fought and died to protect the safety and security of American citizens and are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
There are at least 61 different symbols on the graves at Arlington that recognize numerous branches of Christianity, plus Judaism, Islam, Sikhism and Native American religions, as well as atheism, secular humanism, and Wicca.
So non-Christians are free to give their lives for America. We just don’t want any more of them here. Not even toddlers.
Wizened rich guy Rupert Murdoch, who became an American citizen at age 54 so that he could own TV stations here, tweeted this Monday night:
“Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians.”
Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 16, 2015
Proven Christians? We are raising the bar? Simply saying you are a Christian will no longer be enough. You will have to prove you are a Christian.
Murdoch, by the way, claims he is a Christian. And in America, we don’t make anybody submit baptismal forms or church records to prove it as they did, say, in Nazi Germany.
But we could test people. For example, who said the following?
“But whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
Yep, you got it. That was Jesus of Nazareth, a proven Christian.
But he was from the Mideast and older than a toddler. So we might not let him into America today — even if he wanted to come.
Roger Simon is Politico‘s chief political columnist. His new e-book, Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America, can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM
A volunteer lifeguard carries a baby as a half-sunken catamaran carrying around 150 refugees, most of them Syrians, arrives after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos, October 30, 2015. REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis