Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Controversy over Syrian Refugees Misses the Question We Should Be Asking

By Andrew C. McCarthy — November 28, 2015

Afghan university students shout anti-US slogans and hold a banner reading 'No Democracy; We want just Islam!' during a demonstration in Kabul on October 25, 2009.

The jihad waged by radical Islam rips at France from within. The two mass-murder attacks this year that finally induced President Francois Hollande to concede a state of war are only what we see.

Unbound by any First Amendment, the French government exerts pressure on the media to suppress bad news. We do not hear much about the steady thrum of insurrection in the banlieues: the thousands of torched automobiles, the violence against police and other agents of the state, the pressure in Islamic enclaves to ignore the sovereignty of the Republic and conform to the rule of sharia.

What happens in France happens in Belgium. It happens in Sweden where much of Malmo, the third largest city, is controlled by Muslim immigrant gangs — emergency medical personnel attacked routinely enough that they will not respond to calls without police protection, and the police in turn unwilling to enter without back-up. Not long ago in Britain, a soldier was killed and nearly beheaded in broad daylight by jihadists known to the intelligence services; dozens of sharia courts now operate throughout the country, even as Muslim activists demand more accommodations. And it was in Germany, which green-lighted Europe’s ongoing influx of Muslim migrants, that Turkey’s Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in their new Western countries is “a crime against humanity.

So how many of us look across the ocean at Europe and say, “Yeah, let’s bring some of that here”?

None of us with any sense. Alas, “bring it here” is the order of the day in Washington, under the control of leftists bent on fundamentally transforming America (Muslims in America overwhelmingly support Democrats) and the progressive-lite GOP, which fears the “Islamophobia” smear nearly as much as the “racist” smear.

This, no doubt, is why what is described as the “controversy over Syrian refugees” is among the most deceitful public debates in recent memory — which, by Washington standards, is saying something.

Under a Carter administration scheme, the Refugee Admissions Program, the United States has admitted hundreds of thousands of aliens since 1980 — and, as the Center for Immigration Studies explains, asylum petitions have surged since the mid-Nineties. If there is a refugee “crisis,” it most certainly is no fault of ours: For example, the U.S. took in two-thirds of the world’s refugees resettled in 2014, with Canada a distant second, admitting about 10 percent.

Those figures come from an invaluable briefing by Refugee Resettlement Watch, which illustrates that the Syrian component is but a fraction of what we must consider. Tens of thousands of what are called “refugees” have come to our shores from Muslim-majority countries. From Iraq alone, the number is 120,000 since 2007, notwithstanding the thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars sacrificed to make Iraq livable.

Many of the refugees are steered to our country by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Naturally, the UNHRC has a history of bashing Israel on behalf of Palestinian Islamists — indeed, it works closely with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, one of Hamas’s most notorious sympathizers. The UNHRC works in tandem with the State Department, which resettles the refugees throughout the U.S. with the assistance of lavishly compensated contractors (e.g., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, other Christian and Jewish outfits, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants) — often absent any meaningful consultation with the states in which Washington plants these assimilation-resistant imports.

Responsibility for vetting the immigrants rests with the Department of Homeland Security. As the ongoing controversy has illustrated, however, a background check is only as good as the available information about a person’s background. In refugee pipelines like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan, such information is virtually nonexistent. (But don’t worry, we can rest assured that the UNHRC is doing a fine job.)

Let’s assume for fantasy’s sake, though, that the vetting is perfect — that we have comprehensive, accurate information on each refugee’s life up to the moment of admission. We would still have a calamity.

There are two reasons for this, and they are easily grasped by the mass of Americans outside the Beltway.

First, vetting only works if you vet for the right thing. Washington, in its delusional Islamophilia, vets only for ties to terrorism, which it defines as “violent extremism” in purblind denial of modern terrorism’s Islamist ideological moorings. As the deteriorating situation in Europe manifests, our actual challenge is Islamic supremacism, of which jihadist terrorism is only a subset.

For nearly a quarter-century, our bipartisan governing class has labored mightily to suppress public discussion of the undeniable nexus between Islamic doctrine and terrorism. 

Consequently, many Americans are still in the dark about sharia, classical Islam’s societal framework and legal code. We should long ago have recognized sharia as the bright line that separates authentic Muslim moderates, hungry for the West’s culture of reason and individual liberty, from Islamic supremacists, resistant to Western assimilation and insistent on incremental accommodation of Muslim law and mores.

The promotion of constitutional principles and civic education has always been foundational to the American immigration and naturalization process. We fatally undermine this process by narrowly vetting for terrorism rather than sharia adherence.

Yes, I can already hear the slander: “You are betraying our commitment to religious liberty.” Please. Even if there were anything colorable to this claim, we are talking about inquiring into the beliefs of aliens who want to enter our country, not citizens entitled to constitutional protections.

But the claim is not colorable in any event — it just underscores how willful blindness to our enemies’ ideology has compromised our security. Only a small fraction of Islamic supremacism involves tenets that, in the West, should be regarded as inviolable religious conviction (e.g., the oneness of Allah, the belief that Mohammed is the final prophet, the obligation to pray five times daily). No one in America has any interest in interfering with that. For Muslims adherent to classical sharia, however, the rest of their belief system has nothing to do with religion (except as a veneer). It instead involves the organization of the state, comprehensive regulation of economic and social life, rules of military engagement, and imposition of a draconian criminal code.

Unlike the Judeo-Christian principles that informed America’s founding, classical sharia does not abide a separation of spiritual from civic and political life. Therefore, to rationalize on religious-liberty grounds our conscious avoidance of Islamist ideology is to miss its thoroughgoing anti-constitutionalism.

Sharia rejects the touchstone of American democracy: the belief that the people have a right to govern themselves and chart their own destiny. In sharia governance, the people are subjects not citizens, and they are powerless to question, much less to change, Allah’s law. Sharia systematically discriminates against women and non-Muslims. It is brutal in its treatment of apostates and homosexuals. It denies freedom of conscience, free expression, property rights, economic liberty, and due process of law. It licenses wars of aggression against infidels for the purpose of establishing sharia as the law of the land.

Sharia is also heavily favored by Muslims in majority-Muslim countries. Polling consistently tells us that upwards of two-thirds of Muslims in the countries from which we are accepting refugees believe sharia should be the governing system.

Thus, since we are vetting for terrorism rather than sharia-adherence, and since we know a significant number of Muslims are sharia-adherent, we are missing the certainty that we are importing an ever-larger population hostile to our society and our Constitution — a population that has been encouraged by influential Islamist scholars and leaders to form Muslim enclaves throughout the West.

This leads seamlessly to the second reason why the influx of refugees is calamitous. Not only are we vetting for the wrong thing, we are ignoring the dynamics of jihadism. The question is not whether we are admitting Muslims who currently have ties to terrorist organizations; it is whether we are admitting Muslims who are apt to become violent jihadists after they settle here.

The jihadism that most threatens Europe now, and that has been a growing problem in the United States for years, is the fifth-column variety. This is often referred to as “homegrown terrorism,” but that is a misnomer. The ideology that ignites terrorism within our borders is not native: It is imported. Furthermore, it is ubiquitously available thanks to modern communications technology.

In assessing the dynamic in which ideological inspiration evolves into actual jihadist attacks, we find two necessary ingredients: (1) a mind that is hospitable to jihadism because it is already steeped in Islamic supremacism, and (2) a sharia-enclave environment that endorses jihadism and relentlessly portrays the West as corrupt and hostile.

Our current refugee policies promote both factors.

One last point worth considering: Washington’s debate over refugee policy assumes an unmet American obligation to the world. It is as if we were not already doing and sacrificing far more than every other country combined. It is as if there were not dozens of Islamic countries, far closer than the United States to refugee hot-spots, to which it would be sensible to steer Muslim migrants.

Yet, there is nothing obligatory about any immigration policy, including asylum. There is no global right to come here. American immigration policy is supposed to serve the national interests of the United States. Right now, American immigration policy is serving the interests of immigrants at the expense of American national security and the financial security of distressed American workers.

Our nation is nearing $20 trillion in debt, still fighting in the Middle East, and facing the certain prospect of combat surges to quell the rising threat of jihadism. So why is Congress, under the firm control of Republicans, paying for immigration policies that exacerbate our peril?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

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