Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin joined 28 other governors who are refusing Syrian refugees until their identity can be confirmed. “My primary responsibility as Governor of Kentucky will be to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Bevin said in a statement. “This is why I am joining with other governors across the country in opposing the resettlement of Syrian nationals until we can better determine the full extent of any risks to our citizens.” For that, Lexington Herald-Leader political cartoonist Joel Pett depicted a scared Bevin hiding under his desk next to a map of Syria and a newspaper headline that said “Paris,” while an aid says, “Sir, they’re not terrorists. They’re your own adopted kids.”
Since when are the children of politicians fair game in policy disagreements? Insult was added to injury since Bevin and his wife have nine children, four of whom are black. The reader cannot help but to infer an underlying racism.
Other critics, who are keeping politician’s children out of the fray, are calling Bevin’s and other governor’s responses to Syrian refugees reactionary and uncompassionate. Prudence dictates otherwise. In 2013, two Iraqi’s once claiming to be refugees, received heavy sentences for trying to obtain Stinger missiles and sending money to Al-Quaeda in Iraq. They resided in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Their fingerprints were found on IED’s and later admitted in court they attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator responded quickly. “The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door. The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks,” Sen. Paul said in a press release. Sen. Mitch McConnell also agreed that Obama’s Syrian refugee plan needs to be “paused.” On Thursday, the U.S. House passed a bill to slow Pres. Obama’s Syria refugee plan.
Understandably, emotions are raw in the wake of the Paris attacks as people scramble for answers and try to make sense of the incomprehensible. We are at heart a compassionate people and welcome political refugees, but in a time when a very real war is waged against civility, a time when terrorists slip in among the truly needy, our leaders’ first order of business must be to protect us. And the only thing more infantile than taking cheap shots at the children of political figures is to gloss over what is motivating and happening in the war ISIS and radical Islam has declared on us.
The seeds of terror are already germinating on our own soil according to former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell who recently wrote in Time that there are thousands of ISIS followers in the U.S. The FBI has 900 open investigations of homegrown extremists who pose a threat— most linked to ISIS—right here on our own soil. ISIS is growing much faster than Al Quaeda and claims affiliate militant groups in 20 countries.
A survey by the Polling Company commissioned by the Center for Security Policy in June found that “nearly a quarter of the Muslims polled in the U.S. believe that, “it is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed.” Almost 20 percent “of Muslim respondents said that the use of violence in the United States is justified in order to make shariah the law of the land in this country.”
Two mistakes could be made by reading too much into the survey, the first is to paint all Muslims as radicals bent on violence. This is not true. The second mistake is to discount a sizable number of Muslims who see violence as a legitimate means to advance Shariah law. An estimated three million Muslims are living in the U.S. According to the survey, that means some 600,000 U.S. Muslims believe violence is legitimate to advance laws that allow honor killings of women caught in adultery, punishment for disrespecting Muhammed and imposing second class citizenship for non-Muslims.
If we are to weather this storm, moderate Muslims living in the U.S. must publicly denounce violence and reject Shariah law as incompatible with American ideals. American’s must not hate Muslims and paint them with the same brush jihadists paint of non-Muslims. And we must shed a political correctness which cloaks itself in objectivity, obscures real categories and ends up making us a target of ridicule and absurdity—one in which those at war with us will heap utter contempt.
Mr. Pett, Governor-elect Bevin isn’t at war with us. If you’d like to see who is, make your next political cartoon about the prophet Muhammed and see what happens.
Richard Nelson is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center. He resides in Cadiz with his wife and children.