Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

So, this week.

Seriously, I don’t think the bedwetting about Muslims has been this bad in a very long time, which is saying something, and the panic on Syrian refugees is particularly ridiculous. Here’s a nice, juicy quote from a just released essay on the subject:

Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States and none was successfully carried out.  That is one terrorism-planning conviction for a refugee for every 286,543 of them who have been admitted.  To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.  The terrorist threat from Syrian refugees in the United States is hyperbolically over-exaggerated and we have very little to fear from them because the refugee vetting system is so thorough…

The security threat posed by refugees in the United States is insignificant.  Halting America’s processing of refugees due to a terrorist attack in another country that may have had one asylum-seeker as a co-plotter would be an extremely expensive overreaction to very minor threat.

What horrifyingly liberal commie soviet came up with this load of codswallop? The Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, i.e., the fellow who with his brother is currently trying to buy the entire right side of the political spectrum for his own personal ends. When the Cato Institute is telling you to maybe take down the pearl-clutching over the Syrian refugees a notch or two, it’s an indication that you’ve lost all perspective.

It’s been particularly embarrassing how the mostly-but-not-exclusively (and thankfully not all-encompassing) GOP/conservative politician freakout about the Syrian refugees points out that, why, hello, bigotry really is a thing, still. From small-town mayors declaring that FDR had it right when he put all those US citizens of Japanese descent into camps to presidential candidates alluding that might not actually be a bad idea to make special IDs exclusively for Muslims here in the US, to the House of Representatives passing a bill to piss on the Syrian refugees, it’s been a banner week for bigotry here in the US, enough so that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement of concern with reference to the Syrian refugees. And as many have noted, there is irony in the freakout about Syrian refugees coming into a season which celebrates a notable middle eastern family who famously were refugees at one point in their history, according to some tales.

But as this asshole politician said this week, “Mary and Jesus didn’t have suicide bomb vests strapped on them, and these folks do.” Well, no, they don’t. Leaving aside that the perpetrators on the attacks in Paris all appeared to live in Europe to begin with, the actual process for placing refugees in new countries is so long and arduous and so selective, with just 1% of applicants being placed, that (as the Cato Institute astutely notes) there’s a vanishingly small chance that someone with ill intent will make it through the process at all — and an even smaller chance that they would be assigned to the US when all the vetting is done. To worry about terrorists in the refugee pool is, flatly, stupid — no terrorist organization is going to pour resources into an avenue with such a small chance of success, especially when it’s easier to apply for a friggin’ visa and get on a plane (they can buy their guns when they get here, don’t you know). The reasons why so many people are voiding their bowels about it are simple: Ignorance, racism, xenophobia and bigotry.

“But people are scared!” Okay, and? Being scared may be the excuse for abandoning all sense and reason in the moment one is actively under attack; it’s not even close to a reasonable excuse for, thousands of miles away from an attack and with no immediate threat on the horizon, vilifying innocent co-religionists of the attackers and plotting to slam the door on refugees running from the very people who claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks. Taking the Paris attacks out on Syrian refugees is security theater — it doesn’t make us safer, it’ll just make the most ignorant among us feel safer. It’s the TSA of solutions to the Daesh/ISIS problem.

This has been a bad week for the United States, folks. France was directly attacked by terrorists and its response was to promise to house 30,000 Syrian refugees; we weren’t and one branch of our government fell over itself to put the brakes on accepting a third of that number. France is defying the very organization that attacked it while we, on the other hand, are doing exactly what that organization hoped we would do. We’re being the cowardly bigots they hoped we would be, and as loudly as possible.

So congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France. Enjoy it.

273 thoughts on “Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

  1. As ever, the Mallet is out, so everyone please behave themselves. In particular, blatant islamophobia will be thumped for the ignorant bullshit it is, including selective quoting from the Koran (I’ve actually read the thing, people. Your single quote won’t impress me).

    Also, if you are new here, which some of you will be, please read the site comment policy before posting a comment. It matters.

  2. What do you do when it’s your own parents, when THEIR parents & grandparents came here from countries we were at war with (Italy and Germany) and would have been sent back if they had their way.. I feel like a teenager again sometimes, being disappointing in my “backward” parents and feeling like “they are so stupid, augh!” I was over that and into adulthood realized “oh they know something” but now in my 40s, I’m back to being amazed by what they say.

    it really bothers me, like I took their lessons on how to treat others to heart , but they don’t follow them. They are nice in person to others. And I know they have had minority friends, it took my mother to work at a dinner theater to meet lots of gay people to stop hating them…

    sigh

  3. John, I would like to share this with in comments on my favorite columnist’s page today. Being AZ, that is almost guaranteed to attract a very unpleasant crowd. OK or would you prefer that I not?

  4. As someone who works in New York City and will be moving offices to Times Square in 2 months, I would like to tell all the middle American governors crying about how terrified their citizens are and how dangerous letting refugees into the US would be to stick it where the sun don’t shine. No one is coming for them. I live in a RELATIVELY high risk area in terms of being a terrorist target, and it’s not something I think about every day, the same way I don’t think about other things that are almost definitely not going to happen, or even things that are much more likely to, like say a CAR ACCIDENT.

  5. I saw a lovely map of how various states have responded, that described refusal to accept refugees as “surrendered to ISIS”. Accurate, but harsh.

  6. The last unjaded about my country bit of my heart has shriveled up and died this week.

    I don’t know what we as a people of the United States of America stand for anymore, but it certainly isn’t the shit those patriotic among us claim it to be.

  7. Even better, there’s lots of evidence that the passport was fake. Not surprising that you’d fake a Syrian passport right now, given the current functional level of the Syrian government. So, we’re blaming Syrian refugees for something they did not do.

    Cowardly and stupid.

    Even better, A Certain Hitler To Be declared we needed to do this because we just caught six “syrians” with fake passports trying to get into the US. So, what he’s saying is that the system works, so we’d better change it.

    Cowardly and stupid.

    Oh, another voice saying “This is beyond insane, what are you doing?” Condoleeza Rice.

    And, while it bothers me to say it, I have to give props to Rahm Fucking Emmanuel (and several other mayors) for getting it right. Though, to be honest, the name on that list that truly surprised me was Francis Slay.

    (JS: Note that Nan Whaley signed that as well.)

    Finally, it’s been, what, almost a week since the attacks in Paris? I figure three times as many have been shot to death in the US since then, but that’s not important, apparently. Americans shooting people is ‘MERICAN!!!!1!!!

  8. Right-wing Americans are such [unintentionally (I assume) sexist word equating to “wimp” I don’t like deleted – JS] (although our Canadian version are just as bad, if not as numerous). They’re always afraid of something. In my lifetime I can remember them being all in a tizzy about: communists in Hollywood, the State Department, and under their beds; beatniks; rock and roll (jungle music); Fidel Castro; the “missile gap” (wasn’t one); Martin Luther King; freedom riders; peaceniks; hippies; Black Panthers; the Weather Underground; the domino theory; Vietnamese boat people; Satanists in day care; Japan Inc.; Saddam Hussein; sharia law; jihadis; Barack Obama; Affordable Care; gay spouses; and now Syrian refugees.

    Oddly, none of these brought about the end of the world.

  9. Now this one I can share! What that means is a more conservative blogger wrote something similar yesterday but he also added some islamophobic BS and other things that made me not want to share the post.

  10. I’m embarrassed to be an American. The inability of people to see another point of view stuns me. Those panicking about refugees need to wonder what it feels like to live in a country where another country flies drones overhead that can send a Hellfire missile down at any moment. Yes, I know we never kill civilians and it’s always bad guys, but we wield our force around the world without most Americans ever considering the impact.
    There is a thing called blowback and every bomb we drop earns us enemies. Someone might want to “bomb the shit” out of an enemy but only one war ended by bombing: and that was when two nuclear weapons were used and after many, many boots on the ground died.
    I recommend people watch the Frontline special on the Birth of ISIS and see how a decision made by our former President and then continued mistakes gave birth to ISIS.
    Terrorism wins, by the definition of the name, when people show fear. And that is exactly what the majority of Americans are doing right now.

  11. Excellent article. Thank you John. It sickens me to see so much fear and anti-American crap spewed about how we have to keep the refuges out. We are a country that helps others. We don’t act like jerks out of fear. This cowardice is shameful.

  12. Thank you for that Cato institute quote. There is so much FUD being spread out there (thank you Fox News and Donald Trump) that having something like that in my back pocket will hopefully allow the inevitable ‘older uncle’ arguments around the Thanksgiving table easier to defuse. That’s especially given that it’s from a source that my more conservative relatives will actually believe. I love them, and they are good people, but they think that factcheck.org is a liberal conspiracy…

    I’d also point out that ISIS hates moderate Muslims even more than they hate ‘crusaders’ (which is what they call virtually all Western politicians). Denying support to Syrian refugees is literally doing something that is in line with the terror organization’s aims, and doing it out of fear and/or bigotry feels distinctly un-American.

  13. So yeah, I don’t know for sure if “home of the brave” was ever true, but it sure as hell isn’t anymore. If we don’t pull a Canada and start electing people who at least can approximate a sane and decent human being then I’m out. I feel dirty, guilty, physically repulsed to know that my taxpayer dollars go to a government that can stomach this.

  14. Well, the US likes to bomb weddings with drones in Yemen to catch terrorists… Should we ban all US citizens from going everywhere, ever?

    If you ask me, the US terrorizes much more efficiently than ISIS does. They have to go and put people into vests and everything, while the US bombs from half a world away, calling everything an “operation”, a “tactical incursion” but never the WAR that they are effectively waging.

    Colonial Union indeed. :)

  15. Grateful for this piece. It has been really tough on social media this week. The fascist id is really out in force. I’m going to post my go-to books for explaining all this:

    Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians (psychological profiling of right wing authoritarian personality) available free here.: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    Tavris and Aronson’s Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).

  16. Unfortunately, John, the title is still highly contested.
    Despite the attention grabbing “30 000 refugees” thing, the rest of the political discourse is appallingly abysmal (elections in 2 weeks don’t help). We have our own version of the GOP fear mongers among us. Consider the fact that all but 6 MPs voted to extend the state of emergency for 3 months, even though it’s pretty clear it doesn’t really help police deal with deep-cover, long-game terror cells. The government is also getting ready to tighten what is already one of the most restrictive surveillance laws in Europe.
    As much as I’d like us (the French) to take the moral high ground, we’re very far from it.

  17. Taking the Paris attacks out on Syrian refugees is security theater — it doesn’t make us safer, it’ll just make the most ignorant among us feel safer.

    But it’s even worse than that — the whole charade tends to validate the so-called Islamic State’s claim that there’s a “war on Islam” and that they, by extension, are Islam’s defenders. In their rush to exploit the electorate’s fear and try to portray this Administration as “weak on terror,” these yo-yos are playing right into ISIS’s hands. Say what you will about George W. Bush, but I’ll at least give him credit for not making that particular mistake in the direct aftermath of 9/11.

  18. Really appreciate the figures for comparison. Have been making the argument that terrorism is a crime and not an act of war. Think those figures help to support that argument.

  19. In the immediate aftermath of the bombings I was struck by ennui, fatigue and depression; it seemed to me that everything that was being said had already *been* said, after the Charlie Hebdo killings. The same people were spouting the same racist, xenophobic bile, and the second verse was the same as the first.

    It’s now been a week or so and it still seems that there’s nothing new under the sun; only now the bigots and the hateful are plunging deeper for their hymnals, echoing the rhetoric and venom of the goddamned Third fucking Reich. People may cry “Godwin’s Law!” as if that countered my point, but I really don’t think it does when the point is fucking accurate.

    American *presidential candidates* have promoted vile, blatantly racist, utterly unconstitutional ideas, and it feels really fucking wrong and scary that I, a foreigner who’s never studied US civics, knows more about your government than the people who aspire to lead it. You deserve better, America, you really do. American politicians make much of American righteousness, and it’s deeply saddening to see them fail so terribly in its application.

    What’s even more appalling is how these people are doing *exactly what Daesh wants them to* – and it’s not even like Daesh has been subtle about their plans and worldview, they *want* this anti-Muslim backlash, this flowering of hate and distrust; because it drives the scared and disaffected closer to their worldview. Daesh is evil, it’s right down there with the Nazis, and these people are straight-up helping them achieve their goals.

    At the end of the day, hatred does not cancel out hatred, intolerance does not counter intolerance, death cannot answer death; all that happens is you get more hatred, more intolerance, more death. This is literally a situation where our best weapons against evil are compassion, tolerance, and altruism. Literally! If this were fiction it would be an unutterably heavy-handed moral message!

    The whole situation makes me feel sad and scared and worried and deeply weary. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man will weep.

    I’d like to thank our host for all the kitten pictures and videos; they’re much appreciated, and deeply needful.

  20. People are scared. But it’s a terrible idea to make decisions based entirely on fear, especially when your decisions hurt others. And fear is no excuse to lash out at others.

    (There’s also something to be said for feeling safe versus being safe. Rejecting refugees might make people feel safe, but for various reasons, it probably makes no difference in the likelihood of a terrorist attack, so it doesn’t actually make you safer.)

  21. Current Republican frontrunner wants special ID cards for all Muslims including citizens, and would consider shutting down Mosques.

    No word on making Asatru white nationalists have any ID cards despite being vastly more likely to be terrorists.

  22. There have always been frightened, ignorant and cowardly people. I expect them in the general population based on the law of averages. Not among our nation’s leaders.

  23. I grieve for the world, not the people. Humanity beleaguers itself with words rather than evolve. Stop fighting and instead reach out to elevate all from the shackles of fear. Focus on the need, not the want. Pain and fear is lessened when shared. Reaching out is the only true smart weapon.

  24. Thank you, John – I’ve done my social networking minimum to remind people of who we as a country SHOULD be, rather than the lowest common denominator we seem to be headed towards. Maybe this post will help, although i fear it won’t.

  25. Ah.

    Well.

    New here, and just in time for… what?

    A certain bank robber from Georgia (european version) some time ago said that “The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize.” To make fearful, to cause a people to act in fashions that the terrorists dictate.

    Yes, this has happened here with the events in France. The sheer economy of the attack must be flattering to the shades of the apostate Islamics that did it.

    I DO commend France for the raids that netted and killed those that were plotting to repeat the infamy.

    A certain prudent care in the wake of these events is neither ignorant, nor stupid. Painting the whole party of they that are being bigoted or overreactive as such… THAT is ignorant and stupid, and candidly playing right into the hands of the Ts.

    OldVegasFox (54, Ex-Army, Lifetime Republican, unafraid of mallets.)

    ,

  26. I think the world is a better place because of the Koch funded, libertarian Cato institute and this is more evidence. Check out their podcasts.

  27. I wonder how many of these folks drive without their seatbelts on. Talk about dangerous!

    (Also, “cheeseburger-eating surrender monkeys”? That’s killer.)

  28. Sometimes I just want to yell “Grow Fucking UP!!” at all the bigots and haters. My husband calls this the “knock it off” speech. Imagine if all the time, energy and money spent on terrorism, counterterrorism, hating, talking about hate, and all the other assorted crap were instead turned to productive pursuits. We’d have colonies on Pluto by now.

  29. Thanks for saying this, John – the more people the better.

    As others have noted, people tend to make bad decisions when they’re scared. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the American public has been fed a constant diet of fear, outrage and lies for 15+ years now.

  30. I really don’t understand. A misquote of Trump is being shared around FB but what he actually did say bothers me more. He claims we’ll have to make changes, and do things we wouldn’t have done a year ago. Why? We weren’t attacked, France was, and France wasn’t even the first. Beirut was attacked a few days before, but that didn’t spark the call to action, to this bigoted feeling of unease. I can’t help but feel that the whole fear comes from relating to a country of what we see as white people. We see white people getting attacked and all of sudden we don’t feel safe anymore. It’s half a world away but it’s too close to home. It’s garbage. By all accounts we’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping foreign terrorists at bay.
    Of course we’ve let domestic terrorists go unchecked. Again I suspect it’s because it’s white men, that’s probably also why they never get called terrorists. I see people saying they are afraid, I’m not afraid of ISIS, but really I think we’ve got enough checks in place to keep them out. I am afraid of the angry entitled white man that decides that my theater is the one he wants to target. I fear my ex might one day loose it and decide I’m the reason his life isn’t everything it should be. Really statistically I’m more likely to be raped or killed by a white man that I know that was born a US Citizen, than I am to be harmed by any sort of foreign power based attack. I have many reasons to fear domestic attackers but I’m not seeing any push for increased scrutiny or security on white men.

  31. What is fascinating to me about this is that this such *obvious* pandering to fear. It’s difficult to call this reaction “a certain prudent care,” as OldVegasFox puts it, when (as the Cato Institute pointed out) refugees are subject to so much more vetting than asylum-seekers, and there is no commentary *whatsoever* about changing policies or procedures for folks applying for asylum.

    Refugees are less likely, statistically, to commit mass murder than white people are. But there is no prudent care exercised in gun acquisition – only in keeping people of a certain religion and ethnicity out of this country. Why is that? I’m severely hard-pressed to find a reason that makes logical sense that doesn’t call someone a bigot of some kind.

  32. On the one hand, I agree with absolutely every substantive point in your post. On the other hand, I really like eating cheese. So I’m ashamed of the horrifyingly bigoted political discourse in my country, but hopeful we can make the “cheese eating” epithet our own.

  33. For those of you annoyed with whats happening:

    Seriously, go write your congress(wo)man. All of them. I’m rather disappointed in mine (Gerry Connolly of VA-11) with his HR 4038 yea vote–and I just let him know it. Do the same, if you haven’t already–they’re there to represent you, make sure they’re not just hearing from the hatemongers.

  34. I agree with your general point, John, but this bit bothers me: “a notable middle eastern family found difficulty finding refuge.” I’ve seen variations on this on social media and elsewhere this week, and I think it’s misleading. Joseph and Mary weren’t “seeking refuge.” Nor were they homeless, as some people have said; they had a home, presumably in Nazareth. They were more like people who drive across the state for a big football game and find that there are no motel rooms available, but they were able to sleep in a lounge somewhere. That can be unpleasant, but it’s not at all like being a refugee.

    That isn’t quite accurate either, since according to the gospel of Luke, Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem because the Roman census required that each household return to its place of origin temporarily to be counted. We can doubt the truth of the story, because there’s no evidence of such a census at the time Jesus was born, or that people had to uproot their families to be counted. For that matter, if Joseph was from Bethlehem, he probably would have had relatives there to stay with. But the implication of the story is that they had to go there because Joseph was remotely descended from King David, which isn’t likely either. But the story is probably fiction, made up by Luke — Matthew’s version is very different, he has Joseph and Mary staying in a house, with no indication they weren’t normally resident in Bethlehem.

    No one knows why Luke made up those particular details. The touch about the manger is intended for pathos, presumably. Matthew has his own fictions, like the Flight into Egypt — Joseph and Mary did become refugees, in his version, but there’s no indication they didn’t find refuge there. It’s usually thought that he made up that story to echo the Exodus story of the wicked Pharaoh ordering the slaughter of infants, to position Jesus as the New Moses, but that’s only a guess.

    Of course everybody wants to use the Bible for their own purposes, just as they use other works of literature. It’s probably unfair to criticize liberals for distorting the material — the biblical writers did the same with abandon — but since they criticize conservatives for doing it, they need to be more scrupulous themselves.

  35. I saw the infographic showing which states had suggested closing the door to Syrian refugees (and which, wisely had not, big hurrah to those), and it struck me that labelling those as having “surrendered to terrorists” wasn’t quite right.

    Another commenter ^^^ up there somewhere said that it was harsh. Really? To my mind, it’s not nearly harsh enough.

    To respond to a terrorist atrocity like Paris in exactly the way the terrorists want you to respond isn’t surrender, it’s collaboration.

    Don’t like “collaboration”. I’ll give you appeasement as an alternative.

    It’s a pretty ugly choice. Are you collaborating with the terrorists, or just appeasing them? (You = state governors, not, y’know, *you*).

    This is a transatlantic perspective, though, I’m a Brit, not an American. And yes, stonethrowing in glasshouses, I’m aware that my own government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis was pathetic before Paris, and has remained so.

  36. Seriously.
    This.
    All of this.
    All that you write.
    Times a bazillion.
    I love you, Scalzi. You and your kittens (even though they are refugees of sorts and cats, the latter of which makes them infinitely more terrifying than the former.)

  37. Hm. Prudence, to me, is not to panic.

    Prudence is looking at the figures, and not the exaggerations.

    Prudence is not doing what a terrorist faction wants us to do.

    But that’s just me.

  38. Gregory: “Say what you will about George W. Bush, but I’ll at least give him credit for not making that particular mistake in the direct aftermath of 9/11.” Um, that’s exactly what he did. And provoking the US to attack Muslim countries (“crusade” was Dubya’s word for it until his PR people overruled him) was exactly Al Qaeda’s aim; it worked, too. The Islamic State is one outcome of Bush’s crusade.

    wscottoo: “Unfortunately, a large percentage of the American public has been fed a constant diet of fear, outrage and lies for 15+ years now.” Much longer than fifteen years — in fact, that constant diet of fear, outrage and lies is more like four hundred years old (and that’s just in the US). The War on Terror started in the 80s under Reagan, who also worked the Cold War anti-communist conspiracy theories for all they were worth. The Sandinistas were only a short drive away, and they were going to pour across our undefended border and conquer us! The Viet Cong likewise! JFK waved around a bogus “missile gap” during his election campaign. And so on; the Red Scares go back to the beginning of the century at least. Before that, the Indians were a big threat. And the Papists. And the English, who were biding their time for the right moment to invade and reconquer us, probably via Canada, so we had to invade them first. Don’t forget the slaves, who might rise up and kill their innocent masters in their sleep. And if the Republicans win the Presidency, they’ll kill us all in our sleep! The use of fear and outrage is not limited to the Right.

  39. Thank you, Mr. Scalzi. This is absolutely the right thing to say.

    I’m going to be making an “I’m a toxic bigot and I surrendered to ISIS!” T-shirt and sending it to Ted Cruz. Fuck that slimy little coward. Fucking bigoted surrender monkey. If I didn’t already know that he’s a worthless little sleazeball who called a decorated Vietnam veteran a North Korean spy (to the point that John McCain told him to sit down on the Senate floor), I’d hate him just for this act of supreme dickery.

    Congratulations to Congressman Russel, but he’s screwed in the GOP now for not being enough of a paranoid xenophobe. Poor guy, I admire him for having the balls for standing up for what’s right.

    /rant.

  40. Duncan:

    I take your point, and have updated for accuracy; thanks. That said, the Flight Into Egypt should not be lightly passed over, fiction or not. It’s nice that the Holy Family found refuge in the Egypt in the story; would the Syrian refugees found a new land as accommodating.

  41. @Matt Barton- I’m an American and those are my thoughts too. Daesh has made it clear that their goal is isolation and domination of all Muslims. Yes, people will think it is over the top to say that our politicians are aiding and abetting terrorist goals- but they are. I don’t think that any of them actually want to support terrorists but this has been pointed out to them and yet they choose political expediency.

  42. I’m not sure I’ve ever made a Hitler analogy before, but watching politicians jump on exploiting xenophobic fear for political gain makes me better understand how someone like Hitler could come to power.

    It’s also important to note that how things like Japanese internment and so on are treated in our national textbooks are extremely important when we’re hoping that history doesn’t make those same rhymes.

    This week… this year… has been full of interesting times that I’d naively thought we’d progressed from. I hope we don’t make the same mistakes that our grandparents’ politicians made and that we move forward instead of backwards.

  43. plutosdad, I’m with you. I’ve grown used to disagreeing with my rather conservative, religious parents, but their reactions to the Paris attacks have exposed some pretty egregious racism and ignorance on their part, and I’m actually quite ashamed of them. It’s hard to deal with.

  44. John, I can’t thank you enough for this post. If the terrorist attack last week was deeply tragic and depressing, this week’s reactionary backlash by some Americans was in some ways even worse. It was as if we’ve learned nothing from 9/11 and its aftermath. It reminds me of an exchange between Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, from back in the days when they did comedy together:

    Cook: “So would you say you’ve learned from your mistakes?”
    Moore: “Oh yes, I’m certain I could repeat them exactly.”

    Hey, wingnuts, you want your country back? I want my Land of the Free and Home of the Brave back.

  45. @Duncan
    “And if the Republicans win the Presidency, they’ll kill us all in our sleep! ”

    False equivalency. They won’t kill me– I’m white, Anglican, and upper-middle-class. It is true that I’m a woman, but I do have a (white, tall, upper-middle-class, heterosexual) husband to protect me and anti-abortion laws won’t pertain to me since I’ll be able to fly to Canada or whatever if my life is in danger from pregnancy.

    HOWEVER, they will continue to allow poor blacks to be killed, since “all lives matter” indicates that they believe the black lives matter movement is overblown and they generally blame the victim. Candidates have been saying that they want internment and lists and so on for Muslims– that’s a danger. Not accepting refugees could result in refugee deaths. And so on.

    It’s hard to say it’s paranoia when their actions and words indicate exactly whose lives they hold dear. And that’s not even getting into gun legislation, feeding children, privatization of jails, decreased medicaid, increased military presence, and so on.

    So, no, they won’t kill us all, and not in our sleep. But people are dying and more people will die if one of these Republicans wins the presidency.

  46. I’m not proud of my own Governor, Andrew Cuomo (The Very Model of a “Democratic Leadership Committee” Center-Right Wall Street Politico), very often – but this time, with his harsh pushback against those cowards on the Right who’d deny Syrian Refugees sanctuary? I actually am.

    OTOH, one of my Senators, Wall Street/”ClintonCrat” Chuck Schumer, who’s “questioning” whether we should welcome Syrian refugees or not – after breaking with Obama to applaud Netanyahu’s speech to the Republican Congress? Why didn’t we get rid of him the last time we had the chance…?

  47. I think the takeaway here is that we have to learn to live and love the Muslim people. Right now, we must take up the fight to increase immigration of the refugees, if not all immigration. We can’t let the far right win on this.

  48. I wish you could take the Mallet to Congress to skull-slap Paul Ryan and anyone else who calls this fear-based bedwetting “common-sense”.

  49. Of course they’re afraid. I’m afraid of a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t do them. I’m afraid the bathtub is going to crash into the living room in my old house, but I still take showers. I recently got rear ended and hit by a red-light runner in the same week, but I still drive my car. Getting blown to bits by a terrorist is actually way down there on the reasons why being up in the sky in a metal tube that someone else controls is almost panic-inducing, but I still fly. Just be afraid and then act like a human being and take care of the people who are really suffering. I’m tired of all your fears, you reactionary idiots. Thanks, John Scalzi, for saying it so much better, but just feel like ranting every time I encounter media or overhear a conversation at the gym. But anger, like fear, is better if controlled by reason and compassion.

  50. I thought I had maxed out on shame for Texas, but it turns out I was wrong. The abject spectacle of our Governor fall all over himself to surrender to ISIS brings to me a sense of shame that I didn’t think was possible.

  51. [Deleted because I don’t think we need to be going after others here in this comment thread, do we, Timmy? Especially when I didn’t — JS]

  52. Bravo, John! Thanks for speaking your mind on important matters when you know that half the damn country (including many potential buyers of your books) has an emotional commitment to the opposite opinion. Respect!

  53. For the sake of my two daughters, both adult converts to Islam, I rise to ask that nobody refer to these gangsters as “the Islamic State”, in Syria or the Levant or Lilliput or anywhere else.
    Call them Daesh, and pronounce it “douche”.

  54. This whole episode is going into my new book; “Profiles in Cowardice” It will be right after the chapter on the NRA.

  55. On her blog, “Don’tGetMeStarted”, Linda Sharp coined the term “Social Mebola” (Social Media Ebola) for the panic-inspired hate-mongering going around on the web. It’s highly infectious to people who can’t be bothered with looking at facts, and who believe shouting the loudest (or using all caps) is the quickest way to win a dispute.

  56. Thank you, John. I’ve been trying to figure out how to say this, and as usual you say it so well. I just don’t know where we became such a nation of pansies. Why are we so afraid? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. The very sad part is that fear is driving really really bad policy. We all need to step up and take action. Let your representative know you won’t tolerate such obviously bigoted legislation. If enough people speak out we can make a difference.

  57. Can I selectively quote the Hadith? All jokes aside, you are true in pointing out that a LOT of Americans are scared of their own shadows. You are being a bit overzealous in downplaying the risk that mass immigration at such a time might have on national security. It’s true–we shouldn’t be afraid of what hasn’t happened. We should, however, be prudent in how we choose to handle the situation. I’m sorry if that opinion is too conservative for you. (Btw just throwing punches at the right isn’t going to help the refugees or help any cause you want backed–the sad truth is that both sides need to (wishful thinking here) work together.

  58. Thank you for this post. I’ve been reading about the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis and finding a lot of uncomfortable parallels to what is happening right now.

    The reactions of the followers of the candidates espousing such xenophobic words remind me of the senate scene on Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine announces the creation of the Empire and as the chamber erupts in cheers, Padmé remarks: “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.”

  59. I don’t have anything else to add, but I think it is important to explicitly support this post. So I completely support the things Scalzi said here.

  60. Seriously, I don’t think the bedwetting about Muslims has been this bad in a very long time

    I think I speak for all current and former bedwetters when I say I kinda wish people would stop comparing us to these pusillanimous detestable nitwits. But yeah, it really is appalling.

  61. We have Muslims in our community. They are as horrified of the acts of their ‘bretheren’ (and I use that term way loosely) as everyone else. Don’t penalize them for the way others who have co-opted their religion in the name of hate behave.

  62. SusanneE: You may not be aware (I know some people aren’t) that “pansy” is specifically a derogatory term for gay men. So if you wouldn’t say (as an insult) that we’re a “nation of faggots” or a “nation of sodomites,” then please don’t say that we’re a “nation of pansies.”

  63. What really gets my goat is that, in this age of free-flowing information, fear of the unknown is still so much a thing. In conversation with a friend he said “Of course we need to tread carefully! There’s still so much we don’t know… what’s the vetting process for these people? how are they going to be housed?” etc. With Google I was able to thoroughly answer his questions in under five minutes.

    I think you’ve posted before about this, honestly, but it gets me every time.

  64. @Jed Hartman..what if she knew exactly what she meant? What I can’t stand is people being hypersensitive and *hurt* by the words other people use. Freedom of speech is what allowed the author of the original post say whatever the hell he wanted to say. Even though I disagree with the OP’s position, I respect that he wasn’t a pansy in voicing his opinion.

  65. It’s not surprising that Cato would provide this information. Contrary to what many on the left seem to believe, libertarian != conservative. Regardless of what one may think on their other policy positions, Cato and magazines like Reason have been on the front lines for protecting civil liberties and speaking out against fear-driven immigration policies for years, regardless of who is in office.

  66. Thanks for your comments John.
    On a side note it would be nice if a bunch of GOP candidates didn’t try to take advantage of the death of 130 of my compatriots to further their political agenda.

  67. @ZinoDMD – What’s been proposed here is hardly “mass immigration.” It’s not even a new proposal. Thousands of refugees from this same crisis in Syria have been in the U.S. for years. Refugees from other hot spots in world crisis have been coming in during the past decade – Ukraine, Russia, Somalia, Vietnam, Bhutan, Iraq and Iran are some of the big refugee homelands. Clearly we’ve been fine on accepting people from majority Muslim nations, even those who have some association with terrorism in the public mind.
    This is nothing we haven’t always done, and done quite well when we don’t flatly refuse to let people in- I mean if you look not only at the vetting process but the resettling process we have in place, it’s probably as complete a setup as we have for any group of people entering this country. We also have control over when, who and how many in a way we really don’t for any other group of people entering this country. To be concerned about “national security” over what it’s no exaggeration to say is among the most secure systems we have does suggest that the driving concern isn’t in fact security, if only because surely basic research would be a key step before forming an opinion if measured consideration is what we really want.
    I’m not really aiming this at you – I’m explaining where my punches, and I suspect John’s are actually aimed.

  68. You may not want to use the Cato Institute, and the Koch brothers, as your exemplar of what conservatives are thinking. The Cato Institute is in favor of wide open borders, across the board. Their blog post is typical of their efforts to point out that immigration is almost always a good thing and a safe thing. Your anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, conservative family members see the Cato Institute as the enemy, not as a fellow traveler worth listening to.

    (I’ll avoid the long lesson on how the Koch brothers are hated by conservatives as much as appreciated. Given their support for gay marriage and legal marijuana, among other things, they’re hardly the type to fit in at a Southern Baptist convention.)

  69. @ZinoDMD: Who’s throwing punches at the Right? Pointing out the things people have said isn’t throwing punches. Stop “being hypersensitive and *hurt* by the words other people use,” to quote you yourself.

  70. I guess I’ve stopped expecting rational responses when fear of the unknown is involved.
    Though different I’d point the Ebola scare. Or the backlash against nuclear power following Fukushima. Worrying about some trace amount of radiation traceable to the accident, when we live in a sea of natural sources many times stronger.

  71. [Link to Vox Day’s site deleted; he doesn’t need traffic from here – JS]

    Why is this guy so obsessed with you? What, exactly, did you do to him? I’ve researched what I could find (puppies and all that stuff) but there has got to be more to it. Were you guys old friends that had a falling out or something?

    Just curious. Thanks.

  72. Jed Hartman: Huh. Interesting test case, maybe (re: “pansy”). It does mean “weakling,” which would seem to be appropriate, but it is (as you mention) most often used as an insult for gay men–that is, a term used to insult gay men for being gay, implying that to be gay is to be weak. At least, all of the quotes in the OED under that entry clearly express that sentiment, and the entry itself groups “weakling” with “homosexual” and “effeminate.”. I wonder if the usages can be separated? I know I first learned the word as an insult with no awareness that it could be used to insult gay men . . . but that refers to my own experience, and doesn’t alter the definition or origin of the word.

    That said, there are also plenty of other words that mean “weakling.” “Wimp” would seem to serve this context nicely, in my opinion. Or “pathetic, ineffectual, poorly-informed coward.”

  73. Nicholas Kristof also wrote an OP-ED for the NYT on the Syrian Refugee over reaction, titled “Betraying Ourselves”. Here are a few juicy quotes from Kristof’s article:

    “Remember what a Syrian immigrant looks like — the father of Steve Jobs.”

    “If the Islamic State wanted to dispatch a terrorist to America, it wouldn’t ask a mole to apply for refugee status, but rather to apply for a student visa to study at, say, Indiana University. Hey, governors, are you going to keep out foreign university students?”

    “Or the Islamic State could simply send fighters who are French or Belgian citizens (like some of those behind the Paris attacks) to the U.S. as tourists, no visa required. Governors, are you planning to ban foreign tourists, too?”

    “If Republican governors are concerned about security risks, maybe they should vet who can buy guns. People on terrorism watch lists are legally allowed to buy guns in the United States, and more than 2,000 have done so since 2004. The National Rifle Association has opposed legislation to rectify this.”

    Nicholas Kristof’s NYT OP-ED: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/opinion/betraying-ourselves.html?_r=0

  74. Joe Martin:

    Oh, sure, I understand that “libertarian” is not the same as “conservative” in a number of significant ways, and that the Cato Institute is its own, often contentious, thing. My point is to note that the arguments involved here are not merely ones from the classic “left.”

    Billy Bester:

    Vox Day’s problem, basically, is the following equation:

    Personal failure + raging sense of entitlement + envy issues + unconfronted mancrush = Permanently Angry at Scalzi.

    Best to leave it at that.

    Mary Francis:

    Agreed with Jed, let’s leave “pansy” out of it, please. Many other words available to express the same sentiment.

  75. Average deaths in the U.S. by terror for 20 years: Approximately 160/year.*

    Average annual deaths in the U.S: 2,500,000**

    Ratio of terror deaths/all other ways to die: 1:15,625

    Conclusion: Anyone worried about being killed by a terrorist is a pants-pissing scardy-cat with no grasp of stastics.

    * Note that Oklahoma City was committed by non-Muslims, and without 9/11 and Oklahoma City, 18 of the last 20 years involved terror deaths of less than 10/year, which brings the chances of dying by terror down to 1:250,000 in an average year.

    ** It’s important to remember that everyone dies. 2,500,000 Americans will die this year, whether by heart attack, cancer, gun violence, or purchasing the wrong over-the-counter pain reliever (approximately 7,500 deaths/year.)

  76. @Troutwaxer: “It’s important to remember that everyone dies. 2,500,000 Americans will die this year, whether by heart attack, cancer, gun violence, or purchasing the wrong over-the-counter pain reliever” I don’t know why but when I got this part I started hearing Stephen Fry’s voice read it in my head.

  77. As per usual, Mr. Scalia, you’re a voice of sanity… in a week where such have been sorely lacking.
    A week where I have genuinely been ashamed to be an American. When did we become a nation of fear and hate? And if our Islamaphobia weren’t enough to condemn us, much of the ISIS situation is a mess of our own making! The human toll of our blundering is staggering.

  78. Wherever The Mallet is announced I only hear the Mevhwarrior 2 startup sequence. Why is that?

    Shared this one on the Facebook, waiting for relatives to respond with Straw Man and Non Sequitur.

  79. I do wonder whether it has occurred to the people currently running around like headless chickens that being so obviously easily terrorised is an open invitation to more terrorism, since it works so well. Headless chickens are not noted for their clarity of thought, but human beings don’t have that excuse; on a purely practical basis this is a very stupid reaction which simply encourages the tiny number of maniacs within extremist groups to believe that their tactics are working.

    It also encourages rather larger numbers of people to believe that the U.S. cannot be relied on as an ally because it will cut and run at the first sign of genuine danger; this is not helpful if the U.S. wants to be taken seriously.

  80. As a conservative surrounded by mostly conservative friends and family, I am thankful to say that I have seen very little of the sort of thoughts and behaviors you’re describing and none of it from those I personally know. Most seem to be okay tightening security for or temporarily suspending the acceptance of refugees but none have been “Taking the Paris attacks out on Syrian refugees” and none agree with making “special IDs exclusively for Muslims”.

    Yes, there is fear, but the fear is not of Muslims and/or refugees. The fear is of people who try to enter countries illegally, people like these (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/18/americas/honduras-syrians-detained/) and these (http://www.fox19.com/story/30551799/5-foreign-nationals-arrested-on-ohio-turnpike-passports-taken), because of people like this (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/the-mystery-surrounding-the-paris-bomber-with-a-fake-syrian-passport/2015/11/17/88adf3f4-8d53-11e5-934c-a369c80822c2_story.html) .

    None of this equates to “Ignorance, racism, xenophobia and bigotry” and I certainly don’t think exercising caution equates to “doing exactly what that organization hoped we would do”.

  81. What’s all this fear-mongering about Muslims?

    Wasn’t Saul converted to Paul on the Road to (cough, cough) Damascus?

    Syria’s the birthplace of Christianity as we know it, a goodly chunk of the refugees are Christians being forced out of Christianity’s real heartland, and we’re calling them Muslim terrorists to be kept out? .

    Sheesh. Steve Jobs must be really spinning in his grave now (yes, he was Syrian-American, the son of an immigrant from Homs).

    Actually, we should start a campaign: all the products you should abandon if you’re afraid of Syrian immigrants and their children. Apple products top that list, I think

  82. There’s a popular meme on Facebook of a bowl full of M&Ms. They say that 1% of the them are poison (supposedly to represent the number of ISIS among Syrian refugees), would you still eat a handful? My answer is yes if I get to vet them first like we do for refugees. That way I can test each one before eating it. Can a poison one still get through testing? Sure, I guess but I’ll risk that. Hell I’d even give them to my daughter (not my son because he’s allergic). I’ve actually gotten so sick of hate from people who shouldn’t be buying into it that I’ve stopped following many friends and family over this.

  83. Well said. As if my sadness and horror at the attacks were not enough, my own countrymen seem hell-bent on making me chronically depressed by destroying all hope of progress. Thank you for putting many of my feelings into words so well, and backing up the argument nicely.

  84. Kevin Riley – I think Scalzi is referring to stuff like this:

    http://www.npr.org/2015/11/17/456336432/more-governors-oppose-u-s-resettlement-of-syrian-refugees

    That’s pretty much evidence of “a fear of Muslims and/or refugees,” at its root being ““Ignorance, racism, xenophobia and bigotry,” and as for “exercising caution,” the fact that none of them have really been able to pin down how they would tighten and/or change up the current vetting process (beyond a vague “it’s not good enough yet”) seems to be more evasion than anything else.

    Kudos to you for level-headed personal acquaintances. Mine are … less level-headed.

  85. I think the only conversation to have about any large refugee group is: How can we help guarantee them the basics of life and a way to earn a living once they are recovered sufficiently to want to find a job?

  86. @Jed Hartman – No, I wasn’t aware that it was an offensive term for gay men. It just isn’t used that way in my neck of the woods. Sadly, I don’t have editing powers for my post, but I hope you’ll accept my apology.

  87. Kat Ling – Yes, I have seen the bits from conservative politicians and while they may think they’re playing to their audience, most of my conservative (though maybe a little more libertarian leaning) friends are as put off by their speeches and actions as the left leaning audience.

    I have actually been a little surprised by the levelheadedness I’ve seen in reactions on social media. Most of the offensive reactions have been from friends-of-a-friend-of-a-friend and I’ve only seen them because of others rebuking their posts.

  88. The most cogent comment on the short-sightedness of the anti-immigration view I’ve seen today: Sir Ian McKellan performing a part from Thomas More, a collaboration between Shakespeare and divers others. Sir Thomas is trying to reason with a crowd who are fearful of The Other in their midst.

  89. @John Scalzi: You are half right. Trump is an idiot. There would never be national ID registration in 2015. Its clearly unconstitutional. The part you ignore is that this Syria crisis was made far worse by Obama’s foreign policy.

    This quagmire is Obama’s fault. Obama sat bye and let Syria and Iraq degrade into a human rights crisis. 200,000 people are dead. This is what you complain about? What about when Assad used chemical weapons and Obama backed down from his own redline? Who the hell will take us seriously after that? With that BS negotiation about Assad pretending to get rid of chemical weapons? They still use them. Check out the human rights groups. They all say so.

    Obama ran on the platform of Bush sucks, I’ll make things better. He made Iraq worse. Bush has not been in office since 2008. Only a complete idiot would go ‘well its Bush’s fault’. That basicallys means you are too incompetent and stupid to deal with the hand you were dealt. You see Bush blaming Clinton for 9/11? That happened just a few months after he took office? The intelligence failures happened during the Clinton administration. The organization structure is from the Clinton administration. I don’t recall Bush ever blaming Clinton. This is because Bush was in office.

    Obama did not ‘have’ to pull out of Iraq. It doesn’t matter if there was some vague outline in place before he got into office. It wasn’t set in stone and Obama ran on a platform of ‘Bush Sucks, Ill fix it’.
    Its complete BS that the Iraqis absolutely required us to get out and Obama had no choice. Your seriously going to tell me he couldn’t have kept a few thousand soldiers on a few bases in Iraq? We already have soldiers all over the world. They don’t need to be in combat.

    That would have been enough to stop ISIS cold when they came across the border. They were not dug in. Obama called ISIS the B team and ignored them. Things got worse. Obama Did nothing.

    Obama won’t even arm the Kurds? you realize they have women’s rights? They are pro western? I don’t care if the Turks get pissy about it. Then you have Obama’s passive aggressive inaction on training Syrian opposition? He had what 10 guys in training? He didn’t want to train anyone so he just sat on the issue and let it fail.

    Great job. Lets take in a few Syrians after 200,000 are dead. Golf clap. The US can’t solve everything, but this? This we could have really limited. No ISIS in Iraq. Air strikes early and often. Coordinate with the opposition and the Kurds could have radically reduced the death. No fly zone in Syrian long before the Russians got involved. You think we couldn’t destroy the Syrian air force pretty easily?

    Assad is a murdering shit bag. He is allied to Iran a terorrist state. He is allied to a Hezbolah a terrorist organization. His own people rose up against him cause he was such a butcher. He uses poison gas on his own people. Now we chaos. 200,000 dead. Likely 200,000 more will die at least before this is over. This war could go on for years.

    You put your self out there as morally superior on this? I see muslums on CNN blaming Obama’s inaction for this mess.

  90. tara0909: One problem I’ve noted with the M&M analogy is the relative disposability of M&Ms and people. Throwing away good M&Ms to avoid being posioned is not a big problem ethically. Throwing away ten thousand people to avoid being shot or blown up is a qualitively different question.

  91. Steve:

    Or not. The idea that people will emigrate to someplace they actively dislike is, well. An interesting hypothesis.

    Guess:

    “You put yourself out there as morally superior on this?”

    I’m not being a frightened, ignorant coward at the very least.

    And, no, Guess, Obama is not to blame for a bunch of (mostly) conservative GOPers falling over themselves to see who can go full bigot the fastest. Obama’s policies may or may not have been good or sensible, but that’s an entirely separate discussion to the one we’re having regarding the current political losing of shit over Syrian refugees and Muslims, one which, since apparently we’ve forgotten over the course of seven days, was precipitated by events occurring in a country that Obama is not the president of.

    I can appreciate you wanting to kvetch about Obama’s foreign policy, Guess, but this isn’t that thread, nor is the fact it is not “ignoring” the topic, it’s simply not relevant here. You’re attempting a derail. So, reel it in and let’s bring it back to actual topic of discussion at hand, please.

  92. Here’s what depresses me: No one much is coming out looking good. Turkey is doing a lot for the refugees, but it looks like Erdogan rigged the election and who knows what’s going to happen (a shame, as I personally had an amazing time when I visited Turkey). Lebanon is trying but they have so many problems of their own. The Eurozone seems more interested in bickering. As an Australian I’m not even going to begin to bring up their handling of refugees because it’s too shameful. And I do want to point out that one of the few things coming out from the right I agree with is the ones who point out exactly how little our good friends the Saudis are doing.

    What’s even more depressing is I suspect it’s going to get worse. The Middle East as a whole imports a significant chunk of their food. Climate change and long-simmering Sunni/Shiite tensions seem to me to point to more and more refugees attempting to go somewhere every year, and I suspect the world’s reaction will to be to build a huge wall and ignore the screams of the dying :-(

  93. I’m going to bookmark this column and show it, with the comments section, to my uncles at Thanksgiving. I’m quite sure that after they’ve seen all the repetitions of “cowardice”, “bigotry”, “stupidity”, and “hatred”, they’ll make a 180-degree change in their beliefs…

    Seriously, if the purpose of exchanges like this is anything more than to congratulate ourselves on our superior blue-tribe values, shouldn’t be we discussing how we can start to persuade Uncle Bob that his views might need to be moderated? And if we’re to accomplish this, is it a good idea to begin by heaping contempt on his beliefs?

  94. Re: Times Square

    My office is right on Times Square. And yesterday, as I was walking down 7th Avenue to my office, I noticed that every 10 feet or so on one block, there was someone in black standing in a bulletproof vest and helmet carring an assault rifle. The way they were arrayed, it reminded me of the Peacekeepers in Hunger Games.

    The Peacekeepers on Times Square are new, I think (I only moved up there at the beginning of the month), but there have been armed guardsmen in Grand Central for years. They all make me really nervous, because if something happens and they start shooting, a _lot_ of innocent bystanders are going to die, with no guarrantee that they’ll hit even one of the terrorists. Given the poor record that both the police and the US military have for collateral damage and for not actually getting their target in the process, I think my life is in more danger from the anti-terrorists than from terrorists.

    Oh, BTW, I spent Sept. 11, 2001 three or four blocks from the WTC, so nobody tell me I don’t know how traumatic it is to be around a terrorist attack. (Granted, I wasn’t actually _in_ the WTC at the time, like some people I met.)

  95. Great article John!
    I sent this email to my representative, after looking at his tiwtter release explaining his stance on the refugee program saying ISIS is using it to send terrorists are way, I suggest everybody else do the same, let them hear it!!! (Note John, I stole the link for the essay you posted above and sent it to him, sorry about that… :) ):

    Mr Paulsen,

    I am very displeased with your vote and stance on pausing the Syrian Refugee program. What an extremely cowardly and un-American act. Also please send reply back to me with your “evidence” that ISIS is exploiting the program. Please see the following article with direct evidence that what you say is not happening: http://www.cato.org/blog/syrian-refugees-dont-pose-serious-security-threat

    *The article is from the Cato institute by the way which is funded by your Koch brothers.

    Your position on this DOES NOT reflect the position of your constituents, please amend it.

    You have not before and will definitely not receive my vote in the next election.

  96. I wonder about people who want to do an apple-orange comparison when it comes to foreign policy. Like saying 9/11 was a Clinton problem Bush was stuck with. I don’t know if some of these critics were around in the 80s, but yes, bin Laden WAS a problem for Clinton. He made threats and strikes against U.S. interests and property on Clinton’s watch. But I wonder if they realize the seeds of bin Laden’s resentment stretches back to at least Bush The First if not earlier.

    Anyway … the problem with comparing anything like a president’s normal security successes/failures to 9/11 is that 9/11 seems comparable instead to someone in the FDR administration (up to and including him, possibly) not defending adequately against the Pearl Harbor attack despite knowing it was imminent, in order to galvanize the country into action for … whatever. It’s not even in question whether the Bush administration knew terrorists were going to strike on American soil; it was a fact of intelligence that was ignored. I don’t think there’s any lingering question in hindsight that that administration let 9/11 take place as prelude to justifying a strikeback against Iraq. Unlike conspiracy theorists, I don’t believe it was an inside job – but isn’t letting death and destruction happen to your own citizens as bad as planning and executing it?

    So if these same people think the rampant warmongering, Middle East shuffling, and naked grasping greed of the Bush years had no negative effect on the Syrian situation whatsoever, I don’t really know how to get past their obvious inherent bias. I do credit Obama for trying to use diplomacy to keep us out of getting into more war; we can’t afford war. At all. Period. We’re trillions in debt, including to Social Security, for waging the 2002 and 2003 invasions. Do I think, though, that it was the 100 percent correct action for Obama to take with respect Syria, in hindsight? I don’t know. I don’t profess to be a foreign policy expert. But I do know a lot of the things I’ve watched happen in my 43 years, and I know that a problem this size usually stems back more than just a few years and is the result of a series of one president’s decisions, poorly-intended or otherwise. (Except Dubya. His incompetence and Cheney’s greed will go down in history like a stadium full of TNT and a blowtorch.)

    If only we could take our fucking politics out of factual discussion and just examine what realistic, psychologically accurate, historically borne-out effect an action could have somewhere before we act.

    /sigh

  97. Sylvie and Babs:

    If someone’s beliefs are contemptible — in this case founded on racism, ignorance and fear — I don’t have a problem calling them that. And if “Uncle Bob” is acting like a racist shithead, I don’t have a problem calling him a racist shithead, either. It’s not my job to coddle Uncle Bob and 101 him toward enlightenment. If you want to do so, then bless you. In the meantime, I’ll be over here pointing out to everyone else that his racist awful views are just that: racist and awful.

  98. “But I do know a lot of the things I’ve watched happen in my 43 years, and I know that a problem this size usually stems back more than just a few years and is the result of a series of one president’s decisions, poorly-intended or otherwise.”

    ISN’T THE RESULT. I meant ISN’T, g*d it.

  99. @Jed Hartman “Nation of Sodomites” is an interesting phrase to bring up, since the sin of Sodom was “pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door”*. In a very real sense, the problem is that we ARE being a nation of Sodomites. You’re quite correct that the modern usage of the term would, indeed, be a pointless slur, though.

    *Ezekiel 16:49

  100. .
    If nobody minds my intensely agreeing with Mr. Scazi, in a sonnet:
    .
    Meta-sonnet: “Bamako, Mali”
    .
    By Jonathan Vos Post
    .
    Man with a Plan
    got a brain scan
    be an Energy Voter —
    or Kalashnikov toter
    from Afghanistan
    .
    Foreign Fighter Flow
    Infiltrated Foe
    I’ll say again, to ditto:
    widows, orphans, no place to go
    scared of them lying low?
    .
    Radisson Blu
    in Bamako, Mali —
    Room With a View
    not so jolly
    .
    10:06 a.m.
    Friday 20 November 2015
    ==========
    2 Tankas + 1 Quatrain = 1 Sonnet
    ==========

  101. The fear and racist hatred that is being displayed is definitely disheartening. I take a small comfort in the fact that the percentage of Americans who harbor those beliefs is not as great as it once was (IMO). A generation ago, the avenues for expressing that toxic mixture were much fewer. Now anyone with a phone can demonstrate his or her raging assholery for the world to see.

  102. Guess

    I appreciate that your emotions are heavily engaged; it is very obvious that you are very anxious and I don’t have any magic bullets to rid people of extreme anxiety.

    However, your anxiety has no basis in facts; Obama left US forces in Iraq long after Bush’s allies had recognised that the invasion was a disaster and wanted out. The belief that Obama could have altered the situation by leaving a few thousand US troops in Iraq even longer is nonsensical. Nobody was prepared to agree to it and nobody was prepared to support the US in doing so.

    Bush and his principal ally, Tony Blair, had been warned that invading Iraq would result in an increase in support for Al Qaeda and other extremists; that is exactly what has happened. Al Qaeda came into existence because the US gave those religious extremists vast amounts of money and arms to fight a proxy war against Russia, having overlooked the blindingly obvious fact that once they had dealt with the ungodly Russians they would turn on the ungodly Americans.

    These are questions of fact; we are left trying to deal with the consequences of those facts. Working yourself up into a frenzy of anxiety really isn’t going to help. On the day after the attacks in Paris hundreds of thousands of people were out on the streets of London enjoying the Lord Mayor’s Procession, on its 800th anniversary, notwithstanding the fact that it’s a short train ride from Paris to London.

    If the Lord Mayor had given way to the sort of hysteria which John has noted he would have cancelled it, and he, and we, could all have spent the day hiding behind our sofas. He didn’t, and we didn’t; it’s a lot more fun that way…

  103. @AMM: I used to work in Times Square – the Guard has held heavy presence there on and off. The reason why you see them in GCT so often is because GCT is a landmark, and terrorists like doing crappy things to landmarks. (You’ll see them at TWC and the Empire State, too,)

  104. John, I thought for sure you’d have commented by now on the Ohio governor’s idea of spreading “Judeo-Christian” values to certain other nations that he feels don’t have a sufficient level of such values among their populace, and moreover creating a new official U.S. government agency to do so – although apparently he later said Voice of America would serve this goal well.

  105. The human brain is excellent at risk aversion but extremely poor in figuring out what the real risks are. Starting after 9/11, more Americans got killed by cows (Google it if you want references) than were killed by foreign terrorists each year. More Americans die from being medically under- or uninsured EVERY DAY than die from from foreign terrorists in a year (Google the Johns Hopkins and Harvard studies if you want references). And you can bet our national, mostly Republican politicians know this, which is why their anti-Syrian-refugee talk is so disgusting.

    I write about foreign terrorists because native-born American terrorists, the mass murderers and such, are far more scary.

  106. Sorry John, but your post here is very frustrating. I have seen firsthand the devastation to my friends and my Chattanooga community on July 16, 2015, after Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire and killed several good men. There are people in my community who have legitimate fears for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. We are indeed frightened. We are not ignorant or cowardly.

    You have the luxury of all of this being an abstraction. We do not. Something DOES need to change. People are being killed. I have devastated friends and loved ones. You have championed the cause of people basically not getting their feelings hurt at cons and on social media- yet mock and belittle people who have buried loved ones and are justifiably scared and want policies in place that will save actual lives. Seems like a huge disconnect…

  107. Paul, what on earth does Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez have to do with Syrian refugees? I seem to remember him having been classifed as a domestic terrorist–and based on the stories at the time, he’d certainly been in the U.S. since elementary school . . . so at least 10-15 years? Trying to protect our country from children who might grow up to be terrorists strikes me as downright loopy, if not ignorant and cowardly.

  108. Paul,

    But Abdulazeez wasn’t a refugee. In fact, he’s not even Syrian, but Palestinian (or Jordanian, depending on who you ask) whose family lived in Kuwait prior to emigrating to the United States. To be afraid of Syrian refugees because of the actions of someone who is neither Syrian, nor a refugee (and spent most of his life in the U.S.) is baseless.

    Using your logic, neither you nor your neighbors should ever drive a car or be on the road, given how many people die in car crashes each year.

  109. Paul:

    What do the actions of an American citizen, of Palestinian origin born in Kuwait, have to do with Syrian refugees? Literally the only potential connection there is religion. If only one thing in common is what you want to hang your hat on, then you will have to explain why you’re not frightened of white males, who are far more like to engage in terrorism here in the US than radical Islamists.

    Note also that there’s no evidence that Abdulazeez was associated with any terrorist group, and even if he were, again, that has nothing to do with the Syrian refugees. And inasmuch as his act was immediately repudiated by Muslim religious leaders in and around Chattanooga, there is no fair way to say that his actions reflected on them or were condoned by them.

    So, Paul, let me ask you: are you connecting the actions of one person to a) refugees who have literally nothing to do with those actions and are who entirely unassociated with the perpetrator except possibly by religion, b) his other co-religionists in Tennessee who are again entirely unassociated with the perpetrator except for religion?

    If so, why?

    And if the answer is solely (as it must be) “because they are Muslim,” then what part of ignorant and cowardly does not apply?

  110. You have championed the cause of people basically not getting their feelings hurt at cons and on social media- yet mock and belittle people who have buried loved ones and are justifiably scared and want policies in place that will save actual lives. Seems like a huge disconnect…

    Paul, let’s do a little thought experiment here.

    You’re an electrician in Syria. You have a nice job, a decent house, a wife and two kids plus your brother, your wife’s brother and his family, your mother, and your daughter’s husband, all in the house. Life’s not great–the government’s oppressive and discontent is high–but you get by.

    You don’t join the uprising against the government, but you support it despite being a Shi’a and are happy when the Free Syrian Army gains control of your town, but then a government bomb destroys part of your house and you decide to take your family to your uncle’s place in the country. He welcomes you, but two months later his village is overtaken by ISIS.

    ISIS says that you, a Shi’a, your family, your uncle and his family, even your newborn granddaughter, are all infidels who must be burned. Your son tries to stop two ISIS fighters from beating up a woman in the street and is shot, kidnapped, and executed with a knife in public while ISIS fighters cheer. You decide, grieving, to take your family and risk the long, arduous trip to America. You’ve heard that it’s a bastion of freedom in democracy, your friend’s cousin lives their and you think he’s doing well, and you’re an electrician, that place is full of electric stuff, you’ll have a job you know.

    Fast-forward a month; you’ve gone through a refugee camp in Lebanon, your mother is sick and your uncle’s wife was killed in your flight from Syria. You’ve paid a smuggler your life’s savings to get you to Europe so that you can earn some money, get on a boat to America, and request asylum; your friend’s cousin has told you by phone of how to do this.

    Then the boat you’re on capsizes and your family has to swim to shore because the smuggler didn’t even bother to pay for a decent boat.

    Now you’re sitting in a waiting room in some Italian government agency. The people here either shoot you sympathetic looks or suspicious glares, but you don’t care because all you can see is your new granddaughter’s drowned body, your daughter sobbing into her husband’s shoulder as your uncle grieves over his wife and your mother, who also washed up dead. And you hear the television speak in English, a language that you sort of know because you’re an educated man. A white man in a suit is smiling and telling someone offscreen about how proud he is that they have passed this bill to keep people like you out of America, that he thinks this policy will save actual lives, that this will really reassure Americans who have buried loved ones thanks to Arab terrorists.

    And you look at your grandaughter, and you wonder…does this man care about my granddaughter? Doesn’t her life matter, too? Because so far, all your policy has done is kill people.

    Have a nice night, Paul. I’m done for the night.

  111. I’d say this has been an eye-opening week, but I’ve been watching the degradation of US politics into non-stop demagoguery and proud, willful ignorance since the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003. It was perfectly obvious even then that we were being lied to, and it was also perfectly obvious even then that nearly half the American people were eating up those lies and asking for more.

    It’s interesting in an anthropological sort of way. When I was much younger, I used to wonder how the Red Scare was possible; how the internment of Japanese-Americans was possible; how the descent of Europe into barbarism and fascism was possible. More recently I wondered how the cosmopolitan people of Yugoslavia could turn on people who had been their neighbors and friends for decades. “Couldn’t people tell they were being manipulated?” I’d wonder. It never occurred to me that the answer was, yes, people knew they were being manipulated… and they loved it.

    So now I’m seeing it all happen again. Can’t say I’m surprised, or even shocked. Just disgusted.

  112. In my home town of Calgary, (pop 1 million) on page 5 of the Sun, I find hope. Our mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said, “How we get this, and if we do this right, is a defining memento for us as a people and I know we’re going to make ourselves proud.”

    }}A guy who owns a bunch of McDonald’s eateries in town He comes up to the mayor Wednesday and here’s what he tells Nenshi “It’s not the best job but it’s a job. I could probably hire over a hundred of them,” he says. We’re on a roll. }}

    The column starts with “I agree with Nenshi. You read that right.”
    Because the columnist is usually anti-city hall.

  113. “These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.1

    The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war. When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race. America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.

    Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know. That’s not the America I value. I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America. Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.

    Now this is a great country. It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They’re outraged. They’re sad. They love America just as much as I do.

    And I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by.

    And may God bless us all.

    Thank you.”

    -George W Bush, 9/17/2001

  114. Mary,
    You have the luxury of labeling things loopy and ignorant and cowardly. Enjoy! The issue isn’t domestic versus international. You are making a distinction that doesn’t make a difference. Please do not miss the point entirely. The issue is real people being murdered by people that hate our way of life. The people in my community want changes to immigration. We need to address who gets into the US and we need to address hate mongers who are already here. We do need to make changes and some of those changes might hurt people’s feelings. I value human lives more than human feelings. To crusade for people who might get their feelings hurt based on the restroom they use at a con, but then to hurl insults at people who do not wished to be killed, is very troubling.

    (At least one of the Paris terrorists posed as a refugee. Yes, we have people in the US already that want to kill people, as I am all too well aware. Some people have a wishbone where their backbone should have grown.)

  115. Mr. Scalzi: Fair. But honestly, it’s late and I’ve had a long and extremely emotionally draining week, one of my friends died recently, and my tolerance for racial profiling is at an all-time low.

    And I spent most of the morning sticking pins into a voodoo doll of Ted Cruz, which helped my emotions a bit, at least.

  116. Steve (November 20, 2015 at 3:23 pm) linking to Reddit.

    Even if the statistics quoted are accurate that does it does not mean that letting in Muslims will wreak America or any other Industrialized Democracy. For one thing what are the percentages who stay in the Muslim faith after living in open pluralistic countries after a generation or two? Also, how different would the numbers be for Christians? In a 2013 YouGov Survey 34% of the 1000 Americans surveyed favored establishing Christianity as the official religion with 32% favoring a constitutional amendment to that effect. http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/toplines_churchstate_0403042013.pdf

    Given that church attending Christians only comprise 39% of the population and self identifying Christians make up 77% of the population it seems not to different than the opinion of religious people already living here.

  117. Paul:

    “Please do not miss the point entirely.”

    She didn’t miss the point, nor did anyone else who responded to you. They are telling you instead that your point is not a very good one, and offered you reasons why.

  118. You may want to note that despite his impassionate speech, Congressman Russell ended up voting for the bill aimed at stopping refugee re-settlement. He was apparently made an offer he could not refuse and voted with his colleagues to ensure the vote was veto-proof. So much for principled stands.

  119. @Paul: There is no actual evidence that one of the perpetrators “posed as a refugee”. A (possibly counterfeit) Syrian passport was found, but authorities did not link it to a perpetrator, and in fact the working theory is now, apparently, that the passport was planted. I mean, why would someone going for a suicide attack carry his passport with them, anyway? That particular claim is not supported by the evidence, but only by a lot of jumping to conclusions by people who were already pre-disposed against the refugees.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-17/syrian-passport-in-paris-may-be-planted-german-minister-says

  120. I am the 13th Generation of my family to reside on this soil, and if my quick internet search was correct, one of 10% of Americans descended from the people who were present at independence. I find any of the other 90% seeking to deny refuge to this current crop of tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, wretched refuse of teeming shores, these homeless, tempest-tost, to be…shall we say…ironic.

    I grew up with the self-image that Americans were the best because we were just so gosh darn decent and kind. I know we never really were that nice, but when did we stop aspiring to it?

    I would rather be killed by a terrorist than turn away those in need. I remember an interesting conversation with a European on Reddit who said he’d rather be a murder victim than kill someone in self defense and be a murderer in his own mind.

    @nicoleandmaggie I like what you have had to say.

  121. I live in Chicago. This morning, I sat next to a guy who was reading Arabic on the train. And you know what happened? NOTHING. Well, I asked him for the time (phone was dead, forgot iPad) and he very nicely answered. But that was it.

    And that’s the crux of the emotional involvement I hear from anyone who lives in a place terrorists might actually be interested in attacking (highly visible, highly populated areas–I know people in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago). Everyone I’ve spoken to wants the refugees where they live. We want to help.

    And besides, what are terrorists really going to do to us that we haven’t already done to ourselves? (See U.S.-born terrorists, Sandy Hook, etc.)

  122. I told my husband tonight – “If registration of Muslims comes, I [an atheist] will convert to Islam”

  123. Well, Paul, it seems to me this post does address the hatemongers who are already here. You know, the ones who have decided victims of terror and extremism are only worthy of consideration if they belong to the right religion and speak the right language; the ones who have decided that it’s OK to hate large groups of people and treat them like subhumans because it makes them feel irrationally safer.

    We have laws to keep out refugees, and to monitor extremists and hate groups (although if they’re right-wing Christian hate groups, your fellow travelers will protect you and you can get away with threatening government officials).

  124. About twenty years ago an IRA bomb went off close enough to rattle the windows of the flat I was living in and the police cordon blocked off the end of our road. There was a long and worrying evening waiting for my flatmates to come home, which eventually they did having been diverted all around the cordoned off area, and one of the people they were with turned out to live inside that area so they had tried to enter it on every street until they gave up and came back to stay the night in our flat.

    I made up my mind about several issues I’d never really thought about too much that night. Some of the things I decided I still agree with. Some of them were knee-jerk reactions from fear, relief and anger and I’ve since changed my mind because they were bad ideas..

    So I’m unwilling to declare Paul’s city cowardly and ignorant. Scared and not thinking straight, yes. Making bad decisions because of it yes. But is this because of an inherent cowardliness and bone-deep ignorance or a temporary abberation of a frightened people? I’ll leave the charges of cowardliness and ignorance aimed at the politicians who should know better and instead compete to one-up each other in lack of charity and xenophobia.

  125. My deepest thanks for the link to the Cato article.

    My deepest disappointment at the lack of charity and hypocrisy that run throughout the rest of this page…..

  126. @dann665, maybe you should try putting that mirror aside when you post?

    @Neil W, you’re entirely right that the serious blame should fall on the heads of those deliberately exploiting fear. But it’s also a mistake to treat that fear and uncertainty and as a justification rather than an explanation for people lashing out at the innocent. Especially when some of that fear and uncertainty merely brings out prejudice that was already present.

  127. Interesting post. Maybe I missed it, but why aren’t other ME countries taking refugees, other than Turkey who keep threatening to send them on to Europe. Don’t they have a responsibility too.

  128. The New Colossus, as interpreted by the Republican Party:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    Except the Muslims – they should stay away.”

  129. @matthewcaffrey: A document generated by private research group on behalf of an extremist group that peddles “global jihad” conspiracy theories, purporting to show that an online poll of 600 self-identified Muslims proves they support violence against other Americans? That’s your source?

  130. Good grief! You have to be really scraping the barrel to cite such a source, all the more so since it demonstrates that you don’t have any genuine evidence at all…

  131. “A (possibly counterfeit) Syrian passport was found, but authorities did not link it to a perpetrator, and in fact the working theory is now, apparently, that the passport was planted.”

    Right. Paul et al are currently falling for a scheme that’s like a step and a half from the one Dr. fucking No used, and that was a guy who thought having a fistfight over a cooling vat was a smart tactic.

  132. Neil W: The thing about ignorance is, it’s curable. And fear doesn’t have to be a permanent state. (Your own story kind indicates that, I think? Not wanting to put words in your mouth.) As mythago points out, it’s at best an explanation, not a justification for future action. But if no one speaks up to point out the basic illogic of a fear-fueled action, the result is injustice. And that–leads to more nightmarish events like the ones we’ve lived through.

    So no, I don’t think “cowardice” and “ignorance” are too strong, really. Personally, I’d reserve the words “evil” and “self-serving” for people you refer to as “the politicians who should know better” . . .

  133. I looked at the document Matthew Caffrey linked to. It provides no details at all on how the survey was conducted; how the sample population was chosen; what methods were used to ensure that the sample was proportionally similar to the target population as a whole in terms of age, gender, marital status, employment status, education level, urban or rural location, and other important characteristics; whether the respondents were self-selected (in which case the poll is not scientifically sound for purposes of drawing conclusions about people other than those respondents, so it wouldn’t be generalizable); or any other way to determine how statistically significant the results are. There are ways to conduct polls that are valid, and there are ways that are not. Unless the report of the results include the details that will let the reader determine whether the poll was conducted in a valid way, the results tell us exactly nothing. No judgment whatsoever can be made as to whether the results are valid or invalid. Since this report included none of that, the only judgment that can be made is that it’s a sloppy and incomplete report.

    Other people who wanted to understand the polling methodology behind this particular poll were able to learn more. Bottom line: It was not conducted in a valid way, so the results are meaningless data generated by an inept pollster at best, deliberately faulty and intentionally inflammatory at worst.

    http://bridge.georgetown.edu/new-poll-on-american-muslims-is-grounded-in-bias-riddled-with-flaws/

  134. That previous poll I posted indeed was pretty shady, my apologies for that.

    Here is a much more reliable PEW poll from a few years ago that shows that 21% of Muslim Americans say that there is at least a fair amount of support for extremism among US Muslims. That is far less inflammatory than the other poll, but the point is that it is a real issue and though it may not be sufficient reason to slow down admission of refugees, concern about local Islamic extremism should be brushed off as ignorance based bigotry either.

    http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/a-portrait-of-muslim-americans/

  135. Yesterday lunchtime, CBC Radio’s _Ontario Today_ phone-in show was about non-Muslims supporting Muslims. One caller said, approximately, “_I’m_ not being targeted, I’m Jewish!” Which I think says something about the normalization of Judaism in our society.

  136. Dear Matthew,

    A 1970 Harris poll for Time magazine found that 25 percent of Black Americans–over 5 million people–said they respected the Black Panthers “a great deal.”

    So, of course, we should have addressed the “Negro problem” by subjecting all Blacks to an increased level of concern and scrutiny in society because one in four of them approves of Bad Things.

    Oh wait, we did. And we still do. That’s worked out well.

    And how is this not racial stereotyping and prejudice? How does it not fit the classic definition of bigotry (not the way the kids these days throw around the word “bigot” the same way they throw around the word “hater”–– oh yeah, and they should get off my lawn, dammit)?

    How is what you’re suggesting any different?

    If this doesn’t make the point forcefully enough, I can certainly find you large, identifiable sociological subgroups of the white and Christian populace where substantial minorities of them approve of people doing Bad Things. For example, you can research what percentage of southern-state populations have expressed some sympathy for the the Ku Klux Klan in the last three or four decades.

    So, as for those words you take exception to? Yes, ignorant applies, but a particular selective ignorance, where they pay attention to the Wrong Thinking of a minority of people they want to discriminate against. And, yes, bigotry is exactly the right word.

    ~~~~

    Dear Paul,

    Do you understand that what you are fundamentally doing is arguing ad hominem? You’re impugning the character of people here, based on no knowledge whatsoever. You (A) assume that no one posting here, including our ‘steamed host, has friends or loved ones at risk and (B) that if they did they would feel differently, so clearly the deaths only matter to them when it’s personal.

    You have no evidence to support that. I can tell you as a matter of fact it is not true of me. Therefore you have lost the ad hominem argument.

    Now I’m going to return the favor. You want to make you and your loved ones safe. Propose a policy that doesn’t kill a whole lot of people while you’re doing it. Going to war is obviously out; the track record on wars against this kind of thing, for the past 25 years, is most excellent–– at least 100 times, sometimes 1000 times as many people get killed in those wars as in the attacks that instigated those wars. I’m talking about ordinary everyday-people deaths. Folks like thee and me, who have no horse in the race, who just happen to be there when the bombs are dropped and the bullets fly, who die from disease or starvation when infrastructures get trashed. By not even the most fantastic stretch of the imagination have those wars saved lives. The fantasy of a war that kills only bad guys, most selectively, is one of comic books and bad movies. It never happens in the real world.

    Ah, but you’re not proposing anything so draconian (I hope!), you just want to see immigration throttled back even more than it is already. You might want to look up the numbers of refugees who are fleeing the horrors that are happening outside of Europe and North America. You might want to look at what percentage of them who don’t make it through are dying every month. Do the math. A lot, lot more of them are dying than have been killed in all the terrorist attacks in the Western Nations.

    So, you respond, that’s not my fault, I’m not killing them. Well, not until you start restricting even further their ability and means to find refuge. Then you are advocating policies that will kill more of them, many more than have been killed in terrorist attacks.

    That would fall on your shoulders.

    If your rejoinder to that is that you prioritize the lives and safety of your loved ones over people you don’t know, that you’re willing to see 10 or 100 or 1,000 of them die to save one person you know… Well…

    I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Your ad hominem’s would just be holding up a mirror.

    You are at insignificant risk in this country. You have always been at insignificant risk. You were at insignificant risk even on September 11, 2001.

    If you are okay with pushing that insignificant risk even lower, for your personal protection, even if it means bad things happen to a lot of other people, that does not make you a good person.

    Do not be lecturing us on character or morality.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ======================================

  137. In 2012, an American white supremacist Christian in Wisconsin shot up a Sikh temple and killed and injured many, in order to help start a holy race and religion war, with the Sikhs being seen as like Muslims or close enough. Doesn’t seem to be much concern for their pain and suffering. The Charleston killer was a white supremacist Christian, so were the Oklahoma City bombers, and most of the bombers and mass shooters in the U.S. both before and after 9/11, when they weren’t just white male rageaholics trying to kill women.

    As it happens, my husband and the people he worked with were directly threatened by 9/11 in D.C., and for hours I did not know where he was or if he was okay. My daughter was in lockdown at her school, people could call me but I couldn’t call out of the house (pre cellphone,) and like everybody else, I watched people jump to what they hoped would be a kinder death than fire from the towers, while wondering about my friends and relatives in New York, where I used to live.

    And yet, now, I somehow do not feel scared that any of the three Muslims families who live on my street — all different and practicing their faiths in different ways — are more likely to kill me than my (white) Christian neighbors. Statistically, my white Christian neighbors are way more likely to kill me than my Muslim ones, who are a tiny minority in the country and contribute very little to violent crime. In fact white Christians did a domestic murder a couple of blocks from us.

    So yes, a Palestinian American Muslim decided to kill himself in Tennessee by shooting the Americans, as the ally country of Israel in protest of the killing of Palestinians by Israel, including kids. That sucks. American Muslims working in the towers died on 9/11 and American Muslim First Responders died trying to help them. American Muslim soldiers die on the battlefield on missions of which they are a critical part. That sucks too. Violence and murder in general sucks whoever is the murderer or the victim.

    There are business interests in the U.S. (and elsewhere,) that line their pockets and consolidate political power, controlling policy, by throwing a series of hate targets at white Americans worried they are losing all their power to the Other. Black people protesting police killing them, migrant workers and Latinos supposedly coming to behead us all, and Muslims (always depicted as non-white) have made an excellent target as the Middle East still deals with the consequences of the European countries slicing the region up into prizes after World War I. They sell gold and gold futures which are now tanking and taking people’s savings while they got rich off of it. They fund fake think tanks to put out fake studies and surveys about how violent Muslims are that people like Caffrey tote around for them, knowing people seldom check the facts. Snake oil politics, the grandest tradition in the U.S.

    Right now, Muslims, Sikhs, non-Muslim Africans and Arabs, and anybody with dark enough skin wearing a skull cap or a head scarf are being harassed and attacked and somebody soon will be killed, as has happened before. A mosque was torched, a white Christian marched into another mosque with guns and threatened to kill people, Muslim Americans are being kicked off of air-flights because other passengers don’t want to ride with them and the airlines are cowardly shits. Because of snake oil. Because a diffuse possibility of random violence is too much for our poor minds and so we try to solidify a villain we can target, never mind the facts. A villain that conveniently distracts us from those in power looting pensions, stagnating wages, keeping us from healthcare access and polluting all our land.

    Tennessee is 75% white with a tiny Muslim population. It is currently being gutted economically by its Republican legislators, who are screaming for more guns and about women and gays having sex, while enacting unconstitutional voting I.D. laws to stop its black minority voters and ignoring its meth problem. You know, the white meth dealers who’ve killed more people than Muslim terrorists in the state. Unregulated industrial waste and oil fracking are poisoning the water and land, giving people cancer and setting their faucets on fire, and unregulated big agribusiness is wiping out the smaller farmers and drenching everything in animal (and people) killing pesticides and fertilizers. But no, seriously, the possibility of a handful of Syrian refugees with their kids setting up in Tennessee is the really real, important threat.

  138. It is worthwhile noting that whilst Brussels remains on full alert, earlier statements in the media about the discovery there of an arsenal of explosives and chemical weapons, together with guns and ammunition, have now been retracted; there were guns and ammunition but nothing more.

    Police in Paris have released without charge seven people arrested during the raid on an apartment in Saint-Denis last Wednesday, whilst one more remains in custody.

    Meanwhile, in London, traffic ground to a halt when armed police stopped a car, summoning the fire brigade and an ambulance, but started again when the police announced that the occupants of the car had been arrested on suspicion of the theft of a motor vehicle. We have had heavy duty security on football matches, with the crowds singing ‘La Marseillaise’, which is a truly mind boggling idea.

    In northern Italy Muslims have been demonstrating against ISIS, or whatever it’s calling itself at the moment; all in all, sanity appears to be breaking out all over, though the order by the U.S. European Command that all military and civilian personnel must avoid Brussels for 72 hours suggests that they have yet to grasp the concept of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.

    Brussels is the political and administrative headquarters of NATO, and since US personnel in Brussels itself have been ordered to ‘shelter in place and remain at home”, Nato will just have to manage without them. At some point it will presumably dawn on the U.S. that it’s difficult to influence the actions of other states if all of the people who are supposed to be doing the influencing are hiding behind their sofas, but I hesitate to put a time scale on it.

  139. @ matthewcaffery

    No it doesn’t show that there’s a real issue. The thing is that 21% of Muslims THINK that there’s a fair amount of support for extremism among the entire group of American Muslims, not that 21% of Muslims support extremism.

  140. John-Thank you for the post and your voice of reason. The xenophobic voices have been loud and I hope that sanity will soon return. It puzzles me that the Republicans are supposed to be brave and yet seem to be the most scared.

  141. @Duncan: I’m not a fan of GWB and he screwed the pooch in Iraq, which can be connected fairly directly to what happened in Paris. But days after 9/11 he said:

    “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.

    When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race.

    America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.

    Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know. That’s not the America I value.

    I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.

    Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.”

    http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010917-11.html

  142. Mr. Scalzi,

    I shared this post on my facebook page with the following personal commentary:

    “Panic is a natural reaction, but it is NOT HELPFUL. It doesn’t surprise me that people and politicians have lined up with anti-refugee rhetoric, because America has a long, ignominious tradition in that regard. (Remember the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s? No? Go look it up, and compare it to what we’re seeing today. Let’s use historical context to understand the shame of our current behavior.)

    “I am embarrassed for our country, but I am not surprised — except by one thing. I am accustomed to people sweeping Japanese Internment under the rug, but I was shocked speechless this week when the mayor of Roanoke, a Democrat!, went on record saying it had been a good idea.

    “Seriously, people. You’re scared. I get that. But as John Scalzi says in this piece, it is no way to live. We need to get past fight-or-flight brain stem reactions. This is a complex issue, and there are no simple answers, but that is precisely why we need to engage with higher level brain function: we need people to start solving problems.”

  143. Agree that the fear-mongering is Un-American in the extreme, but I still have a few questions about all this.

    1. Does our dear Government have a plan on settling these refugees in a safe area that can help them adjust to life, or even assimilate successfully, in the USA? After working for the Dept. of Defense for my entire career, my guess is no. Right now, this is happy-talk vapor from the current administration, with a giant bureaucratic bungle behind it (think Hurricane Katrina – “You’re doing a fine job, Brownie!”). I implore all those caring people who support providing a safe home for these victims of war to get involved IMMEDIATELY in organizing to insure these refugees are not “warehoused” until the glacial bureaucracy can figure out what to do.

    2. Is Fearless Leader Barry going to reverse the actions of the Department of Insane Incompetence and Absurd Irony (ICE) that chose to deport Iraqi Christians fleeing the New Holocaust in Iraq and Syria (which also targets minorities like Yazidis and Muslims who do not support the sick, twisted version of Islam practiced by ISIL) just because they crossed the border illegally from Mexico?

    3. Do nitwits like Trump and Carson realize they sound like the morons (including FDR) who would not accept Jewish refugees from Europe trying to escape the Holocaust prior to WWII? While this position is consistent with some really disgusting parts of American history (“Irish need not apply”, “Chinese not welcome”, “Whites Only”), it is the responsibility of ALL Americans to solve these problems and not repeat some vile American history.

    4. Finally, to all who are saying that fears about what these refugees might do are unfounded (“They would NEVER do THAT!”), I refer you to two Chechen immigrants, two brothers whose parents brought them here to escape the violence against Muslims in Chechnya. Their names were/are Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, and they were so happy to escape to the United States that they built and set off two pressure cooker bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264 people, plus shooting and killing a campus police officer later while car-jacking his car. While all the people who are hammering politicians, and rightly so, for rejecting these Syrian refugees are smugly sneering at the fearful “ignorant, unenlightened, stupid” folks, my question is: Are YOU going to take responsibility for YOUR mistakes if one of these refugees that is “streamlined” into the USA decides he or she can’t tolerate all of us Infidels, and decides to resort to violence?

    Please, everyone, remember – the minute someone says “That won’t happen” or “They wouldn’t do that”, that someone has pretty much guaranteed “That” will happen or “They” will do that.

  144. RickInOKC: The Boston bombers were not refugees. They were not even immigrants–they were the children of asylum-seekers, which is a different thing entirely (and again, both had lived in the US from at least adolescence if not childhood). Nor, according to the FBI, were they ever affliated with any terrorist group.

    The conflation of refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and, frankly, tourists is part of the “ignorance” problem, in my opinion; here’s a quick article differentiating refugees from asylum-seekers, at least: link.

  145. Mary Frances: you and HuffPo saying that asylum seekers and refugees are entirely different prompted me to read a little more since I’ve never thought they were completely unrelated. What I found (from the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c137.html ) is that an asylum seeker is someone who says they are a refugee but the claim has not yet been evaluated. None of this should be interpreted as me not supporting our helping the people fleeing Syria – I just like to try to understand the terms being thrown around and your post prompted me to read a little more about it – so thanks!

  146. Aargh!

    I just wrote a rather long response to Mary and it has disappeared into the Cybervoid. I’m proud of the way in which I behaved thereafter; stuff like throwing a book out of my windows in my younger years just doesn’t work when it comes to my iPad…

  147. It is the 1% doctrine all over again. Which translated to normal speak means: I am terrified and cant be bothered with basic facts of common sense, so if I feel afraid of something I will treat that fear as god given truth, and all your facts and statistics are garbage to me because they dont make me feel any safer.

    The thing is these pant-wetting are tripping over themselves to see who wins the most-cowardly award.

    They are immune to facts.
    They have zero shame and calling them out has zero effect on them.
    Their only calculus is fear.

  148. More US citizens were killed by being shot by toddlers in 2015 than were killed by Islamic terrorists. Yet somehow trying to stop immigration of people from Islamic countries, and debating a gross violation of rights for our Islamic citizens seems more logical to many people than any kind of gun legislation aimed at keeping guns away from kids.

    I guess it’s only a violation of rights if they’re your rights, not your funny-looking neighbor.

  149. Max, if our government was actually going to help the people who are already here, you’d have half a point. But they are not, so they might as well give a token amount of assistance to people who might make this country a better place if they are not killed before they get here first.

  150. ZinoDMD wrote: ” You are being a bit overzealous in downplaying the risk that mass immigration at such a time might have on national security. ”

    We’re talking about 10,000 a year specific to Syria, out of over 200,000 from all sources. That’s not mass immigration. Countries like Turkey and Jordan, which have taken in millions of refugees from Syria, and before that from Iraq, have experienced mass immigration.

    We probably get more than 10,000 foreign students entering US colleges as freshmen every year. 10,000 is smaller than the number of foreigners we bring in when we hold the Olympics. A 10,000 person increase is no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

  151. Mary wrote: “What I found (from the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c137.html ) is that an asylum seeker is someone who says they are a refugee but the claim has not yet been evaluated. ”

    More to the point, asylum seekers are people who are already in this country when they request asylum. I believe the Tsarnaevs came here on a tourist visa, then requested asylum. Clearly, that means they underwent no screening before arrival, let alone the extensive process for refugees. They also picked their destination, which isn’t the case for refugees, who have little say in where they are sent.

    Not that screening would have revealed that the kids would become terrorists ten+ years later; it took less time than that for Tim McVeigh to go from soldier to mass murdering terrorist.

    Sylvie and Babs: “Seriously, if the purpose of exchanges like this is anything more than to congratulate ourselves on our superior blue-tribe values, shouldn’t be we discussing how we can start to persuade Uncle Bob that his views might need to be moderated? And if we’re to accomplish this, is it a good idea to begin by heaping contempt on his beliefs?”

    Frankly, a lot of the people John is talking about are the sort of people who think its fine to shame poor people for being on welfare, or using food stamps, among other intolerable transgressions. I see no reason to spare them from being shamed, when they think it’s such a great tool for education.

    RickInOKC: “Does our dear Government have a plan on settling these refugees in a safe area that can help them adjust to life, or even assimilate successfully, in the USA? ”

    Syria isn’t the remote northwest frontier province of Pakistan, where tribes run everything and the Pakistani government fears to tread. Syria has (or had, anyway, before the war broke out) 5 star hotels, nightclubs, etc. And the war hasn’t been going on that long. I think Syrians will adjust pretty easily, much as Iranians did when they fled the revolution there. I bet the refugees will include a fair number of fans of Taylor Swift. (A number of years ago I was listening to a pop music show on the BBC World Service, on shortwave, and they had a request for Shania Twain from Iran.)

    Incidentally, it wouldn’t surprise me if some fraction of the Syrian women stop wearing the headscarf when they reach the West. I could be mistaken, but it seems that in photos of refugee camps in the Middle East all the women wear them, but in photos of refugees in Germany, you’re more likely to see women wearing their hair uncovered.

    Hopefully that will help Americans relax a bit, although the Syrians shouldn’t feel obligated to change their habits.

  152. Sylvie and Babs: “Seriously, if the purpose of exchanges like this is anything more than to congratulate ourselves on our superior blue-tribe values, shouldn’t be we discussing how we can start to persuade Uncle Bob that his views might need to be moderated? And if we’re to accomplish this, is it a good idea to begin by heaping contempt on his beliefs?”

    Have you ever seen Uncle Bob come around to your way of thinking about *anything*? I havent. I was adamantly opposed to the Iraq invasion and talked to countless “Uncle Bobs” who were adamant that invasion was the wise and moral thing to do. To this day, i have yet to see a *single one* of these idiots to come out and admit they fucked up on a massive scale. Even now, when the topic comes up, they point to some article that says WMDs were found as their defense. And they are entirely immune to understanding that those were old weapons they got from the West in the 80’s and were the weapons Hans Blix said he would be finished with in a few months. Completely. Fucking. Immune.

    So, I dont know if this article will change one single bigotted asshole from changing his stupid, ignorant, uninformed bigotry into anything remotely fact based and humane. At this point, I am having serious issues holding onto any kind of hope for humanity. The arc of history is long but bends towards justice? Maybe. I dont know anymore. All I know is right after Bush invaded Iraq, support for the invasion was astronomically high, and I have never heard a single person who supported it then to now admit it was a mistake. And nowadays, I am of the opinion that peoples biggest fear isnt being murdered but rather *admitting they were wrong*. Which means, fuck Uncle Bob, because once he takes on bigotry, he will spend every shred of energy and every last breath to avoid admitting he is wrong.

    If this thread has any effect at all, it will only be to dissuade people from becoming bigots *before* they embrace bigotry.

    Once any human embraces a horribly bad decision, they would rather die than admit they were wrong, so nothing will change their mind.

    At best, they might shift from passively embracing a bad idea to passively avoiding the bad idea. But once invested and once their position is public, the vast majority of people seem incapable of admitting to anyone that they were wrong.

    The moment the invasion of Iraq started, we could have admitted it was a mistake and withdrawn at any time. But admitting we were wrong is a fate worse than death, so we spent the first few years scouring the deserts for WMDs that werent there, and when that didnt work, we started looking for any possible way we could declare any possible kind of “victory” to justify the invasion rather than admit it was a mistake. A decade of American history devoted a trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives, to find anything that would let us get out of Iraq without admitting it was a horrible horrible mistake.

    So, I dont think this thread is for the Uncle Bobs of the world.

    If anything, I think these kinds of threads are for people *opposed* to stupidity and bigotry, to act as a reminder that even when you are surrounded by 90% bigotted Uncle Bobs, to remind you that you arent insane. And maybe give you enough encouragement to do anything you can to keep opposing Uncle Bobs ideas from becoming the law of the land.

  153. Taking in refugees from Syria is the right thing to do. If doing the right thing means accepting risk, fine, I accept the risk. I don’t think the risk is anything like as big as some people say but if it were, I would still accept the risk.

  154. When you look at the number of immigrants (refugee or otherwise) that have perpetrated terror or mass murder attacks in the US and you compare it to the number of American born people doing the same thing, it becomes obvious that the only sane choice is to ban Americans from having children.

    Or, you know, we could react like a bunch of racist xenophobic asshats.

  155. This makes me want to repeat something I posted in a similar thread:

    The US is afraid to take 10 000 Syrians.
    In October alone, 28 214 Syrians asked for Asylum in Germany.

    And Merkel’s most-quoted comment? “Wir schaffen das.” (‘we can do that’ – sound vaguely familiar?)

    Not that I particularly like Merkel, she’s a bit too far right for my taste.

    Oh, and Germany seems to be slightly smaller than the US, last I looked.

    Oh, I should point to my source: https://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Downloads/Infothek/Statistik/Asyl/statistik-anlage-teil-4-aktuelle-zahlen-zu-asyl.pdf?__blob=publicationFile Page 5.

    To expand on that comment, we also have reactionaries afraid of too many people coming here. In fact, there’s open conflict about that between Merkel and Seehofer (boss of the Bavarian “sister party” to Merkel’s). What does Seehofer want? Caps on the number of people we’ll accept. NOT stopping Syrians from coming.

    And we have lots of politicians saying that we should not confuse Syrians with terrorists, pretty much across the spectrum.

    Incidentally, that difference between refugees and asylum seekers is completely absent from the discussion over here. It is generally assumed (on all sides, as far as I can tell) that refugees are seeking asylum pretty much as a matter of definition, and the only acceptable reasons for seeking asylum imply that you are a refugee. A difference we do make is what the consequences of passing the asylum process are – how long we accept people for, how much of their family we allow them to get here, and so on.

    Which, personally, I think is silly; Germany (being in a fairly central position) has, over time, accepted and integrated lots of people from lots of (usually but not always European) places, and it doesn’t seem to have done us any harm. I know of relatives in Austria, Poland, Denmark, and the German-French border region; my mother came from the German-speaking parts of a region that was part of Czechoslovakia – haven’t bothered to figure out which nation it’s a part of these days – her original birth certificate was bilingual (German and Czech). For that matter, I currently have one colleague from Turkey, one from Kazakhstan and one from Syria (the latter doing network security (!!) and communicating mostly in English) – a while ago there were two more Russian-speaking colleagues (known as the two Alexanders), but they have since wandered off to greener pastures.

  156. I’m a Christian. There are a lot of Christian governors out there attempting to close the doors on their state, including mine. Why doesn’t their thought process on this issue start and end with Matthew 25:40?

    “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

    What book of the Bible has Jesus slamming the door on war refugees?

  157. I was going to write a long winded comment about the difference between racist “Uncle Bob” and elderly- possibly-frail parents but I saw this and was so filled with joy that I had to share. Nearly every- if not every- Religious leader in Arizona signed this letter to our wacko governor. “it is incumbent upon us to welcome those who are most in need — in accordance with faith directives, our morals, our ethics, and our American values” There really are many sane, decent people here although it is some times hard to tell.

  158. @plutosdad:

    What do you do when it’s your own parents, when THEIR parents & grandparents came here from countries we were at war with (Italy and Germany) and would have been sent back if they had their way..

    Nah, let’s go back even further. Who the hell does anyone with even a smattering of history think America was founded and built by in the first place? People who, after that Revolutionary War thingy, would have been hung on sight for treason if they’d shown their face in England. Religious dissidents. Economic refugees from grinding poverty born of war, famine and disaster because however hard and uncertain life in America would be, it couldn’t possibly have been any worse than what was slipping over the horizon behind them. (And I include my own Irish ancestors, who could have easily gotten on a boat heading to New York or Boston rather than New Zealand.)

    @leons1701:

    When you look at the number of immigrants (refugee or otherwise) that have perpetrated terror or mass murder attacks in the US and you compare it to the number of American born people doing the same thing, it becomes obvious that the only sane choice is to ban Americans from having children.

    Or perhaps the Mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, will volunteer to build in his town an internment camp for white male citizens, between the ages of 16-65. Any reading of the hard data would very strongly suggest they’re the real threat, not Syrian refugees.

    @khms:

    Which, personally, I think is silly; Germany (being in a fairly central position) has, over time, accepted and integrated lots of people from lots of (usually but not always European) places, and it doesn’t seem to have done us any harm.

    Perhaps the difference between Germany and the United States is that the titanic refugee movements in the aftermath of the Second World War are still living memory in Europe. Then America’s response was the Marshall Plan not “fuck you, go away and freeze to death if you don’t starve first Nazi scum.” Worth thinking about.

    The parents of one of my best friends in primary school were among 800 Polish refugees (mostly orphan children) who arrived in New Zealand in 1944. The intention was they’d return home after the war, but most chose to stay after Poland came under Russian influence — and they were allowed to. I can’t imagine what it must have been like being sent to the other side of the world, to a strange nation where you didn’t understand the culture or even speak the language in most cases. But far from being terrorists, they and their descendants have been hard-working, law-abiding members of our communities. And I’m proud to be a citizen of a nation that didn’t turn its back on people in their most desperate hours; and while New Zealand can do more and better, we’re not staring now either.

  159. On the one hand, I’m not going to judge how people deal with their racist relatives. I’ve been there: you have to pick your battles, minds are hard to change, and if you feel the need to nod and smile and say well, Grandma, that’s one way of thinking about it because she’s ninety, so, that’s entirely understandable. Even with younger relatives, I applaud anyone who does speak out, but we’re all human and sometimes “we have to get through the next three hours and it’s not like I’m going to change anyone’s mind in those three hours hey how about that local sports team” wins.

    But I feel that the one thing you shouldn’t do is then try and justify Racist Grandma or Homophobic Uncle or Cousin Who Talks About the Welfare State A Lot, or ask other people to soften their stances for the sake of those people. We all have our DNA-sharing crosses to bear in one form or another; Trying to convince them politely, if you think it’s worth the effort, is your responsibility; if your Uncle Bob isn’t cooking turkey for me, I have no real reason to care if I reach his heart and/or mind in a polite and nonthreatening way.

    @RickinOKC: Yes. That will happen. They will do that–for all varieties of “they” and “that.” In every time and place there are fucked-up little assholes who like to kill people to make themselves feel better about their inadequate lives. In Boston, in this case, it was the Dickweed Brothers. In ’95, in your city, it was two white Christian guys. In Norway a few years ago it was another asshole white Christian. From ’78 to ’95 it was a white anarchist/environmentalist guy. We can and should take measures to make killing people harder in general–but if we’re going to be targeting demographics for that, then “white culturally-Christian guys” should probably go first.

    The Marathon bombers didn’t have funding, connections to terrorist groups, or any “radicalizing” force except their own pathetic existences. (Nor did they enter the country with a terrorist agenda: they came over to live, their family intended them to have normal lives, but they failed at that and decided murder was the better way to go, as so many upstanding American boys have done before them.) Yes, politics was the cosmetic motivation–same as it was for McVeigh, same as technology was for Kaczynski–but really, it comes down to desperate impotent dipshits trying to piss on a wall so that someone might pay attention to them. Every population has a few of those; any that might come in with the refugees are a drop in the fucking bucket compared to the ones we’ve got here already.

    By all means we should keep an eye on creepy radical groups of all stripes, whether that’s radical Islam or Operation Rescue or people who read the Turner Diaries for fun and hoard gold. But if one of the refugees ends up being a mass murderer, whether for politics or not–well, that will be tragic, because mass murder is always tragic. But it won’t make giving the rest of said refugees shelter a mistake, and it’s an…interesting weighing of human life…to suggest as much.

    In general: I would also like to point out that, not only did we refuse Jewish refugees. but we then turned around and not only welcomed but *actively recruited* former Nazis. America: fuck yeah.

  160. @Kat “In 2012, an American white supremacist Christian in Wisconsin shot up a Sikh temple and killed and injured many”
    Wade Michael Page was definitely a white supremacist, but after an hour or so of googling, I don’t see any reason to think he was a Christian. Do you have evidence otherwise?

  161. I suspect that the justification for calling Wade Michael Page a Christian terrorist comes from Mark Juergensmeyer’s blogpost arguing the same: here. I suppose it depends on one’s definition of “Christian.” Juergensmeyer’s argument seems a bit specious to me, depending as it does on defining “Christian” as “citizen of a dominant Christian culture” . . . but then, the parallel is to seeing all believers in Islam as terrorists, simply because they believe in Islam.

  162. @Mary Frances “the parallel is to seeing all believers in Islam as terrorists, simply because they believe in Islam.”

    . . . a parallel which is denied vociferously on these pages, by our host and many others (for good reason). Yet Christianity is casually slandered.

  163. Well, those of us who lived through the IRA’s terrorist campaigns have first hand experience of Christian terrorism; frankly, being blown up by a bomb made by Christians really is not an improvement on being blown up by a bomb made by Muslims. We’ve had both.

  164. Fear is the mind-killer

    Well, Frank Herbert has been massively vindicated in recent days, hasn’t he?

    Going against my usual habit of posting stuff from here onto Facebook, I’m going to (if it lets me) reverse the process.

    This is from a friend of a friend, who actually practises immigration law and has a day-to-day direct involvement in the process.
    It’s long, but take the time to read it. Those who are afraid of terrorists slipping in with the refugees,you especially should read it.

    TL;DR version: ain’t gonna happen. It takes a couple of years to go through the process of resettlement, and in the vast majority of cases, you don’t have any influence on where you go.

    My own country has an infestation of the same pearl-clutchers and bed-wetters, so don’t feel I’m picking on you Yanks. I suspect your immigration process is even more rigorous than ours (I flew to the States once: I suspect I could actually move to another European country in the time it took me to actually get in, and I was there to work for the DoJ. If I’d not had, of all things, a cricket fan processing my entry, I might still be there).

    So congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France. Enjoy it.

    And their cheese is better, too.

    A final thought, something I saw today on Facebook:

    Blaming all Muslims for ISIS is like blaming all musicians for Justin Beiber

  165. Bill: Yet Christianity is casually slandered.

    Never said it wasn’t, Bill, likely in this specific case and probably others here and there. However, as others have pointed out, we also have no shortage of Christian terrorists to point to, if we want to play that game. (Abortion clinic bombers and arsonists, anyone?) I’d prefer not to play it, myself, but well. If we’re going to point fingers at terrorists-of-religion, it is worth remembering that the pointing can go in several directions, and at the moment no one is talking about keeping Christian refugees out of the country–including the Syrian Christians; see Donald Trump.

  166. I have no quarrel with those with a romantic/sexual fetish for ‘butchness’, like all non-violent consensual fetishes (including any I might have) it’s observation is at worst the occasion for private bemusement or disgust. I have a completely different opinion of the political fetishisation of butchness to the detriment of decency, practicality, and actual toughness…and that the more callous we get, the safer we’ll be.

    (Hell, even Trump, just before talking real tough, said ‘Tough guys don’ t talk like that.’)

    There is a lot of distance between believing that this is an amoral world where survival sometimes will require toughness or even callousness, though the second’s famously the sin of Sodom, and believing that the public performance of butchness and blinkered callousness is actually worth something beyond the approval of the marks.

  167. @isabelcooper
    The side that would keep out the refugees also seems to helieve that all bad stuff is due to Bad Guys, a definite and observable and probably unchangeable group. Roughly speaking, this is also why they see no problem with almost all of us’ going around armed all the time, since there’s nothing dangerous about Good Guys to other Good Guys, regardless of drugs and passion and momentary insanity…it’s also how Good Guys can torture and stay good, and safely (for Good Guys) limit the objects of the practice to Bad Guys.

  168. @Bill, I believe you’ve made this complaint more than once. Can you point out where Christianity is being “casually slandered” here? Or is your complaint that it is “slander” to point out the existence of Christian hate groups, or the Christian anti-Semitism that led to the same don’t-let-those-foreign-refugee-types in attitudes toward Jewish refugees in World War II?

    Truth, as you know, is an absolute defense to slander.

  169. Maybe Americans feel more sheepish about this than other refugee situations because the US was the primary cause of ISIS existing in the first place. Of course that is actually reason #1 why the US, above everyone else, should help however it can.

  170. I’d say the same thing about our college campuses. Seriously, the panty waste fascists our kids are growing up to be! #hashtag this, safe spaces that. What a joke. I believe this is a Liberal problem and it needs to be fixed. I do a lot of hiring for a Fortune 500 company and you can bet we don’t hire kids that weak and delusional.

  171. @mythago “Can you point out where Christianity is being “casually slandered” here?”

    My post
    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/11/20/frightened-ignorant-and-cowardly-is-no-way-to-go-through-life-son/#comment-803425
    specifically describing how Kat Goodwin’s post
    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/11/20/frightened-ignorant-and-cowardly-is-no-way-to-go-through-life-son/#comment-803199
    as an example of such.

    To wit: describing a murderer as Christian without evidence that he was.

    I would have thought that context would have made that clear.

    I’d also note that your post
    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/11/20/frightened-ignorant-and-cowardly-is-no-way-to-go-through-life-son/#comment-803134
    describes “right-wing Christian hate groups” and immediately link to an article about Cliven Bundy. While Bundy was Mormon, I see no evidence that his religion had much to do with why he resisted BLM attempts to remove him from range land. If you want to explain his actions or put them into context, it is much more useful to examine the Sovereign Citizen movement than to link him to Christianity.

  172. Bill, I agree with you that Kat’s specific reference to Wade Michael Page was not well-chosen. The problem is, when the person committing the terrorist act happens to be a Christian, his/her religion tends to be immediately dismissed as unimportant to his actions–or, worse, the “no true Scotsman” response comes into play. (See Anders Breivik for a terrorist who explicitly and repeatedly declared himself a Christian and who triggered the response that “no, he isn’t a Christian because no true Christian would shoot people like that.”) When the terrorist is Islamic, the tendency is to assume that his/her religion is immediately and directly relevant to his actions–and it’s no more automatically true in the latter case than in the former.

    As I said, I personally would like to leave this fallacious and specious line of reasoning out of the discussion entirely, in all cases, but apparently the world won’t let us do that. And I don’t think that it’s a bad thing in general to point out that if Islamic terrorists are condemned for being Islamic, then Christian terrorists should be condemned for being Christian.

  173. Bill:

    The holy race war he was trying to gear up with the shooting is part of Christian Dominionism doctrine about the coming of the apocalypse end times. That’s why they want a race war — to hasten things along. Look it up.

    I don’t have a problem with my Christian pals having their faith, and them being Christian doesn’t make them terrorists anymore than the Muslims, as I and others have already said a dozen times. But the reality is that many of the mass shooters we’ve had in the U.S. have been Christians, and most of the white supremacist groups, including the Klan, who’ve done things like build bombs and shoot cops are Christian and quote what they consider Christian doctrine to justify their actions and views. Some of them are even Christian pastors who’ve publicly advocated killing people. And they became a lot more numerous once we elected a black man president, who they refuse to consider a Christian like themselves.

    So you’re just going to have to grow up and deal with it, Bill. I went along with this one because I didn’t want you to think that I was lumping you in with the fun pack of xenophobia we’ve had on this thread. (My favorite so far — the eugenics idea that the Japanese biologically have compliant minds and so we were able to force our “values” on them of dropping hydrogen bombs to kill thousands of them and interring Japanese immigrants and citizens, taking their stuff while we beat, starved, raped and killed them.) But if you pull this “No True Scotsman” you are slandering Christianity crap again, I’m just going to ignore you in future. Just so we’re clear.

    General Thread:

    Legal immigrants, whether they are Muslim and/or refugees or not, are no more and no less statistically likely to commit violent crimes and terrorist acts than native born American citizens. Illegal immigrants are even less likely than the other two groups to commit violent crimes and terrorist acts, or any crimes at all, since they are busy making beds, picking crops and trying not to get caught. The claims that the Syrian refugees — Muslim, Jewish, Christian and what have you — are more dangerous than other groups is a bold-faced lie that is useful to some people.

    Xenophobia may seem to be irrational, but my husband studies it and it is mainly strategic. It is a positioning of power — of leveraging to put one’s group in charge of law, access to goodies and enforcing it with violent threat, to attempt to control representation, how people are defined legally and socially, who can and can not enter, and how people can live. And we’re all trained in it, all over the world, from the time we’re kids. For many political elites, it’s a very effective strategy for their particular aims, as we’re seeing with the Syrians. (And it’s the same tactic for racism and other bigotries — that’s what privilege and up axis are all about.)

    The U.S. is and always has been a multicultural country with no one central culture and no official language. The cultures of Japanese Americans and Arab Americans are just as much a part of America as Western European Americans. While immigrants to the U.S. do have to follow the basic laws, they do not have to “assimilate” because there is nothing to assimilate into. The calls that they do and that they being supposedly bad at it requires them to be punished or banned is an attempt to leverage power and claim authority as the “real” Americans who get to rule and decide who is what, where they can live, how they can behave, whether they can have access to resources, (usually no, as the deciding group gets them,) etc. It’s a power grab and an assertion of superiority, often presented as natural and inherent superiority.

    The folks on the Southwest flight weren’t scared of the Arab Americans. They were showing everybody who’s boss — that they are the real Americans who get to decide who is and isn’t acceptable, how they behave and who has access to services they paid for. And the airline went along with it due to the threat of violent force and disruption. When the pizza guys brought in the police — legal armed force — who thankfully followed the law themselves, the passengers still tried to assert authoritative control as the superior power-brokers, get back their mojo, by insisting that the pizza guys show what was in a white baker box and prove they could be trusted to the passengers, the asserted rulers of the plane. They had no right to demand squat, but in their ideology, they control everything and the Arab speaking brown citizens better defer to them and do what they say.

    And that’s the same ideology of the Trump supporters who beat up the black protester, and Murdoch with Fox News for political and financial goals. It’s the same with Uncle Bob relatives — they aren’t scared; they’re peeing to mark their supposed territory. They wave away factual arguments and challenges because the important thing is the claim to power and control. Facts and people standing up for their rights and challenging their claims eat into the fantasy they are pushing of them being the wise, insightful, judging, decent, superior, guarding benevolent tyrants, a fantasy they’ve been taught to see as their legacy birthright.

    A Syrian refugee could be a terrorist. (Well, not the three-year-olds, but you know.) So could the person claiming a Syrian refugee could be a terrorist. They are equal and offer equal risk. But the latter person is claiming power and superiority over the society as a given for himself, and using that claim to assert that he gets to decide that the Syrian refugee is of greater risk than himself to cement his power status. And that becomes the excuse — political, economic and social power — to starve children.

    So I don’t think the complainers are frightened anymore than the Southwest passengers were frightened. I don’t think they are ignorant either, most of the time; to the extent that they are, it’s usually a willful ignorance. And I don’t think they are cowardly either. I think they’re strategic, violent and trying to cement their power base and ruling status in a society that increasingly challenges it. And a lot of the time, they’re doing so because they were always taught that this is their place in the world. (Which is why the radicalization of some white Westerners into ISIS makes perfect sense to me.) But them dang college students, gays, Central American kid refugee advocates, American Muslims, women, black people, etc. keep saying it’s not.

  174. @Bill: In addition to what Kat and Mary Frances said, Wiki has this to say about the Sovereign Citizen movement: “The concept of a sovereign citizen originated in the Posse Comitatus movement as a teaching of Christian Identity minister William P. Gale. The concept has influenced the tax protester movement, the Christian Patriot movement, and the redemption movement—the last of which claims that the U.S. government uses its citizens as collateral against foreign debt.”

    So. Not all or even most Christians in America are right-wing conspiracy-theory violent bigots, but the vast majority of American right-wing conspiracy-theory violent bigots are Christian. Just like not all or even most Muslims in the Middle East are neo-caliphate terrorists, but the vast majority of Middle Eastern neo-caliphate terrorists are Muslim. It’s the most horrible manifestation possible, given the circumstances, of the culturally dominant religion or belief system. (And as a pagan, I am like ninety-two percent sure that, if we were dominant, there’d be a non-majority-but-way-too-common group of fuckwits trying to do awful things to their fellow people in the name of Silver Ravenwolf or some such twit. Human nature’s a hell of a thing.)

  175. It is good that you have taken advantage of an opportunity to read the Qur’an. Since it seems that Islam claims that there can be no modifications to the message from the prophet, that is the word of god as delivered directly to Mohammad, I’m thinking that taking precautions about how many and what kind of people we allow into this country from the Middle East war zone would be a good thing. I do not subscribe to many of the suggestions (lists, internment, ID cards, etc.) that are being bandied about, but there has been no reformation in Islam to rid it of it’s barbaric 7th Century ideas and punishments. Islam is 180º at odds with Western Civilization, particularly the freedoms declared inalienable by our Constitution.
    Refugees? Fine! Shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to be more PC than Europe? Childish, stupid, myopic, “keep up with the jones’s”, . . .
    Where was our desire to help the refugees when they were ~90% Christian and other minority religious entities and the Islamic Fundamentalist Jihadist Terrorists were doing their beheadings, drownings, mass shootings, rapes, sex enslavement, etc?
    Islam, until it is reformed by its theologians, is the mortal enemy of Western Civilization. If you think you can peacefully coexist with people that think it is perfectly fine to kill you because you do not share their political ideology, have at it. I’ll send a condolence card to the mortuary. Just send me the address.

  176. Henry Sheldon:

    “Since it seems that Islam claims that there can be no modifications to the message from the prophet”

    Just as many people wish to maintain that the Bible is inerrantly the word of God, so perhaps we should be taking precautions regarding them as well, as the Bible has roughly as many bloodthirsty quotes in it. And that’s after a reformation — which incidentally, shows a very interesting bias in your thinking as it implies that those Christians whose sects were not affected by the Reformation may fall back into bloody chaos, etc.

    All of which is to say I don’t find your argument particularly compelling or knowledgeable, or without a bias that betrays a significant amount of ignorance, both of Islam and of Christianity. And given how many Muslims I know, many of whom are friends and have not murdered me despite ample opportunity (nor I them, to be fair), I can speak from experience that coexistence is not only possible, but very very easy. It’s a shame you are too bigoted, Mr. Sheldon, to understand that.

  177. @Mary Frances.
    Very little to disagree with in your post. I specifically avoided challenging any of Kat’s examples in ways that would lead to a “no true Scotsman” argument.

    “And I don’t think that it’s a bad thing in general to point out that if Islamic terrorists are condemned for being Islamic, then Christian terrorists should be condemned for being Christian.”

    But neither of them should be condemned for their religions – they should be condemned for being terrorists. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Calling either Page or Breivik a Christian brings nothing useful to the discussion, regardless of whether that is how they self-identify.

    @Kat and @isabelcooper All you can bring up is guilt by association and third party assertions. If you can show me a statement where Page said “Jesus told me to kill the Sikhs”, or Bundy said “At prayer meeting we figured out that God wants me to keep the gummint out of my land”, I’d back off completely. But that isn’t the case – these specific people acted the way they did for reasons not related to Christianity. This and an earlier thread are replete with examples of people saying that the events in Paris and other terroristic actions are not representative of Islam. Well, the incidents I’m challenging as being falsely described as “right-wing Christian hate” or “white supremacist Christian” seem to have nothing to do with Christianity – the perpetrators aren’t claiming as such, the actions aren’t in accordance with Christian teaching, there are no mainstream Christian leaders blessing the actions, there are no mainstream Christian organizations condoning what they did. To call them “Christian” is sloppy, and doing so is evidence of prejudices on the parts of those making the claim.

    @Kat “you’re just going to have to grow up and deal with it”
    Seriously? That’s what I say to my 8 year old son. If you perceive what I’m saying to deserve such a condescending response, then go ahead – ignore me. We are coming at this from such different attitudes that it’s not useful to continue. I’m interested in advocating that we not characterize people whose irreligious acts are horrible by their nominal religions (or by the religions we lazily assume them to adhere to). That’s all.

  178. Bill: Well, the incidents I’m challenging as being falsely described as “right-wing Christian hate” or “white supremacist Christian” seem to have nothing to do with Christianity – the perpetrators aren’t claiming as such, the actions aren’t in accordance with Christian teaching, there are no mainstream Christian leaders blessing the actions, there are no mainstream Christian organizations condoning what they did. To call them “Christian” is sloppy, and doing so is evidence of prejudices on the parts of those making the claim.

    If you can consistently replace “Christianity” with “Islam” every time you make this argument, then I think we’d both be fine. The problem is, Christianity does get a pass when people start talking about terrorism–and it shouldn’t, if Islam and other religious beliefs don’t. You say you are carefully avoiding the “no true Scotsman” argument, but then you go ahead and make that very same argument in this passage. If “the actions aren’t in accordance with Christian teaching,” and “there are no mainstream Christian leaders” or “organizations” blessing/condoning these actions, then the perpetrators aren’t really Christians–even when they were raised Christian, even when they say they are Christian (and yes, some of them do; again, see Anders Breivik or pretty much anyone who ever bombed an abortion clinic or killed a doctor who provided abortions). I say “the actions aren’t in accordance with the teaching of Islam,” and somehow that doesn’t count with way too many people. Not you, necessarily–you’ve been focusing on the “defending Christianity” side of the issue–but way too many.

    Speaking personally again, I honestly don’t think that Christianity needs to be defended from this equivalence. If there are Christians out there who are terrorists (and I believe that there are), then I, as a Christian, have no problem with condemning their actions as Christians. Yes, they are Doing It Wrong–where “it” is Christianity–and yes, they are certainly in the minority, but it still worth condemning them. If any extremist stripe of Christianity gives aid and/or encouragement to terrorists–and I believe that some do–then I state unequivocally that that is wrong. Not All Christians are terrorists, absolutely true. But neither are all followers of Islam terrorists, and that too is a point that needs to be made strongly–and evidently repeatedly.

  179. @Henry Sheldon:

    Shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to be more PC than Europe? Childish, stupid, myopic, “keep up with the jones’s”, . . .

    So taking 10 000 refugees is “trying to be more PC” than Europe – where here in Germany, we had 15 000 come just last weekend, and almost 300 000 last month? Or is there some other way of looking at this that makes actual sense? I can’t see any.

    If you actually want to keep up with the Joneses, let’s see – the US is over three times as large as Germany, so try taking in about three millions. This year.

  180. Bill:

    Seriously? That’s what this crap was about?

    But neither of them should be condemned for their religions – they should be condemned for being terrorists.

    Lucky that I didn’t do that, then. I have been making the point that all Muslims are getting condemned for their religion and for some of the content of their holy book, being considered more of a danger because of their religion or suspected religion, and because individuals who are also of their religion have done terrorist and violent acts — including being condemned and labelled a danger by some of the people on this thread. And I have been using, as an EXAMPLE, you idiot, that Christians and people in other major religions are in the same boat as the Muslims. Most Christians are not going to commit terrorist and violent acts or choose that as part of their faith. But the Christians’ holy book makes up part of the Muslim’s holy book and contains the same violent material as the Koran, and individuals and organized groups who are various sects of Christian and regard their Christian beliefs as part of their mission have committed violent and terrorist acts, especially in the U.S.

    Other Christians have not been condemned for such acts, nor should they — as I HAVE SAID SEVERAL TIMES. But Muslims get condemned for the exact same situation with their religion. I was pointing out the hypocrisy of this of those people who do that and the justifications they try to use. I was talking about the reasons for that hypocrisy, mainly in the U.S. I was talking about people’s inability to estimate factual risk because they want to condemn the Muslim religion and pretend that it is somehow in a fundamentally different situation than other major religions — they want me to see my Muslim neighbors as scary. .

    Our host just said the exact same thing in his post above, and yet I do not hear you squawking. None of this is prejudice against Christians — it’s condemning those bigoted against Muslims and the hypocrisy of how we handle mass shootings in the U.S — and it was all based on facts, as was pointed out to you by several people. My example of the Sikh shooting was to show the comparison with the Tennessee killer — and how people hypocritically characterized the latter as meaning all Muslims are dangerous.

    You didn’t go rushing to defend Muslims from condemnation when the killer in Tennessee was brought up to condemn Muslims. You didn’t scold me not to supposedly condemn the Hindu religion on the basis of the violent material in their holy books, even though I brought up that religion too in the same example of hypocrisy, or their individuals who committed terrorist and violent acts.You just freaked out, claiming that Bible verses that exist don’t exist, and insisting we pretend no murderer has ever been a Christian, no matter how many people pointed out to you that this was silly. I could make a lot of assumptions off of that, but let’s just pretend you haven’t been paying any attention to people’s posts.

    As for the rest, you are No True Scotsmanning all over the place:

    Calling either Page or Breivik a Christian brings nothing useful to the discussion, regardless of whether that is how they self-identify.

    — No True Scotsman

    All you can bring up is guilt by association and third party assertions. If you can show me a statement where Page said “Jesus told me to kill the Sikhs”, or Bundy said “At prayer meeting we figured out that God wants me to keep the gummint out of my land”, I’d back off completely. But that isn’t the case – these specific people acted the way they did for reasons not related to Christianity.

    — No True Scotsman

    Well, the incidents I’m challenging as being falsely described as “right-wing Christian hate” or “white supremacist Christian” seem to have nothing to do with Christianity – the perpetrators aren’t claiming as such, the actions aren’t in accordance with Christian teaching, there are no mainstream Christian leaders blessing the actions, there are no mainstream Christian organizations condoning what they did. To call them “Christian” is sloppy,

    — No True Scotsman

    Religion is a voluntary choice of belief. If someone says that they are a Christian, they are a Christian. You don’t get to declare them not a Christian. (No True Scotsman.) If someone wants to start a race war because they believe that it will help bring Jesus’ second coming and white supremacy, you don’t get to say that their religious beliefs are unimportant to them and their violent intent. (No True Scotsman.) If a Christian pastor says that certain people should be killed in Jesus’ name, you don’t get to declare that pastor as unimportant and not really Christian because he’s not in a “mainstream” Christian sect. (No True Scotsman.) Quit trying to whitewash facts.

    Page did not shoot up Sikhs in their temple just because they were brown skinned, but because he thought they were Muslim or near enough. Nearly all U.S. white supremacists and U.S. Neo-Nazis, which Page was part of, are Christian and believe that God endorses their cause. Bundy claimed that he had a revelation from God that his supporters were to disarm the BLM and National Park Service, and to tear down the toll booth at Lake Mead, among other things, so maybe you want to stop banging that particular gong. Neither of these men or others mean that Christianity and other Christians should be condemned. But you don’t get to try and erase their beliefs while Muslims get slimed for killers who happened to be Muslim. That’s just adding to the hypocrisy. A terrorist killer can be a person of any religion or no religion, and if they are religious, that is often their main reason for the terrorist act.

    Pointing out that killers can be Christians intent on holy wars just as much as Muslims, and that the former is more common in the U.S. is not condemning Christianity. It’s pointing out the double standard being applied to terrorist acts. And not only did I do it on this thread, but many others did too, as have many people in the press, making the exact same comparisons to show the hypocrisy towards Muslims that I did. You just decided I hated my Christian friends and relatives, which is your bigotry problem, not mine.

    I am giving you one more break on this because the breadth of misinterpretation about a point we’re actually in agreement on seems to have maybe been a lack of attention. But if you keep playing No True Scotsman, then I agree we have very different ways of seeing things.

  181. Mary Frances pretty much said what I was going to. It’s not that mainstream Christianity directly said that Bundy or whatshisnuts should do what they did* any more than mainstream Islam directly encouraged the Paris bombers. But it’s not like mainstream Islam directly encouraged the Paris bombers any more than mainstream Christianity directly encouraged Bundy or whatshisnuts.

    What you took as “slandering Christianity” was basically pointing out that we *don’t* slander Christianity, as a whole, any time one of these nominally-or-culturally-Christian sheetstains decides to act out. We don’t even do it every time people make the connection direct: in my years on the Internet, I’ve never seen anyone but the spotty angry Usenet version of atheists (and the occasional stringy-haired too-much-jewelry-wearing version of pagans, I admit, sigh) blaming all of Christianity for the WBC or Operation Rescue.

    This is as it should be, but this is also as it should be for Islam. Which was the point being made.

    * Though I think there’s a strong case for the American conservative version encouraging an environment where they could draw those conclusions, so I think you’re wrong about “reasons not related to Christianity.” “Reasons not in accordance with mainstream and/or liberal and/or humane and/or reasonable Christianity,” yes.

  182. I commented above regarding the bombing campaigns of IRA; the vast majority of that funding came from Irish Catholics in the USA. I do not dispute that people tried to stop, or at least slow down, that funding but nothing ever changed. Until, that is, 9/11.

    The good Christian people in the US may not have been willing to plant bombs themselves, but they were certainly not averse to other people planting bombs using the money donated.

    That changed on 9/11 when most of them finally had to admit that blowing people up had a definite downside viz. it’s really isn’t fun if you are the people being bombed…

  183. @Bill: My comment also contained a link to political pressure from right-wing politicians who shut down the Department of Homeland Security’s attempts to catalog Christian and far-right extremist groups in 2009; and there more than a few. As to Cliven Bundy: as Mary Frances pointed out, Bundy explicitly said that in taking up arms against the federal government – something for which he has suffered no real consequences – he was acting on direct orders from God, and that God “spiritually touched” the people who rode out to support him at gunpoint.

    I assume this is the statement you demanded before you would “back off completely” from your claim that Bundy’s actions were orthogonal to his faith?

  184. What a bunch of model citizens. 8 glasses of water, brush three times a day, no peanut butter in the lunch box, thanks. Oh, and don’t forget to vote!

    Oh… “congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France.” Ill timed & Crass. Crass. Crass. Crass.

  185. Henry Sheldon wrote: “It is good that you have taken advantage of an opportunity to read the Qur’an. Since it seems that Islam claims that there can be no modifications to the message from the prophet, that is the word of god as delivered directly to Mohammad”

    You do realize, don’t you, that there are several different varieties of Islam, with those differences significant enough that extremists take them as justification for murder and repression?

    And you do realize, don’t you, that Islam as it is practiced has historically varied with some places being pretty laid-back about it? This, admittedly, has suffered due to the influence of Gulf Arab oil money funding the spread of fundamentalist and extremist varieties of Islam like Wahhabism.

    What I’m saying is, for a religion you believe to be monolithic and unchanging, there’s been a hell of a lot of variety.

  186. A propos of nothing in particular, there was a country that took in 500,000 Jewish refugees in the years leading up to WWII. But its name slips my mind…

    It might be an interesting time to point out that one of the great “evils” (as seen by Protestants) of Catholicism is that the community of the faith is not bound to any particular text in the Bible, though I am guessing “thou shall have no God before me” and the Sermon on the Mount have a pretty heavy lock on permanence. If only this meant more in practice and if only the laity had more actual voice in comparison to the clergy’s. Of course, it also means that Catholics have no “the Bible made me do it” defense when they do something immoral or stupid in the name of religion.

    The Republicans trying to make the “compassionate, but safe” argument are ignoring the fact that the system is already pretty damn safe with respect to refugees, probably too damn safe for the good of the 99.999 % who are legitimate victims of chaos and war. I cannot decide which is worse the disingenuous respectable Right who cynically ask us to go slow when we already move at a glacial pace or the outright demagogues. On the other hand, the demographic which is being targeted by the demagogues is clear more dangerous to our democratic and libertarian heritage than any handful of foreigners who are trying to game our bureaucracy. To make an historical allusion, who was more dangerous to Rome: Jugurtha or all the corrupt and incompetent Senators he bought and/or manipulated?

  187. Obama wants thousands to be allowed into the country.

    Fine.

    Then he needs to take in a handful of refugees into the White House

    And I don’t want to hear the BS “it’s a security issue” if these people are ultra safe.

    Lead by example Bams!

  188. At least when France was the “Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys” they had some pretty good cheeses to choose from. Now that America (U.S.) holds the title, we have our individually wrapped, pasteurized, & homogenized AMERICAN cheese (is it really cheese?) from which to satiate our fears. I can almost hear the crinkling sound of the cellophane wrappers already!

  189. PrivateIron: A propos of nothing in particular, there was a country that took in 500,000 Jewish refugees in the years leading up to WWII.

    I know it’s off topic, but which country? And are you sure you got the number right? I seem to remember that there were about 520,000 Jews in Germany in 1933, and about 200,000+ six years later . . . are you talking from all over Europe, or a longer time span than the 1930s?

    I tried to find out without bothering you–I’m not challenging you, and I’m really trying not to derail the thread–but the minute I go looking for numbers I find myself being linked to Holocaust Denial sites, and ick. And for some weird reason, it’s driving me crazy not to be able to track down the specific country you are referring to.

  190. The reason for the White House to not take in refugees would be the intrusive scrutiny it would put the selected refuges under. Putting the additional pressure of being exhibits for the press on top of the trauma of having to flee for their lives would be a miserable experience and would only be suggested by a thoughtless or evil person.

    America, unfortunately, is a country where news is entertainment and an emotional blood sport. This must be taken into account for any plan that involves public exposure or making people public figures. Will they have the skills and mental strength to live under such scrutiny?

  191. I must think Daesh is very glad about the people opposing the entry of refugee. It fulfills their strategy TO A TEE. They even laid it out for us.

    Moreover, it takes attention away from methods that are magnitudes easier to infiltrate the US. Tie up the US in knots over the LEAST effective channel to enter the US.

  192. Mary Frances: I was trying to be subtle, but still snarky and not too derail-ey. If you had been paying too much attention (and I honestly think you are better off not having done so) to the sniping in these threads lately, it would have been obvious the answer was Poland. The period starts in 1920, but the 500,000 does not include a large number of people who were allowed to use Poland as a transient point to an even safer refuge. Jews ran from the Soviets in the 20s and the Nazis in the 30s. Since other people brought up American and British refuge response before WWII, I thought it was more or less on topic, particularly since we are also discussing taking refugees in an atmosphere of fear. Poland in the early 20s and mid to late 30s had a lot more to fear and a lot fewer economic resources than any Western country does in 2015.

  193. At the risk of raising double posting ire, to give it more context Poland in 1939 had less than 10% of the current U.S. population and God only knows what percent of GDP or real wealth compared to us now. Yet they took an average of almost 30,000 Jewish refugees per year for two straight decades, even though there was a significant fascist anti-Semitic minority in Polish politics and even when they knew that the Nazis were deliberately flooding Poland with refugees to help destabilize the country and to raise anti-Semitic sentiment among the Polish populace.

    Compared to that, our response is more than pathetic and gutless. I don’t have words.

  194. Thank you, PrivateIron. Once I move the dates back to the 1920s, your meaning IS obvious; I was stuck on the 1933-1939 range. And, as I said, it was driving me nuts–one of those “I should know this, it’s at the edge of my mind” sorts of things. And running into the Holocaust Denial sites every time I tried to research the numbers was seriously gross, so thanks again for the quick response.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled topic . . .

  195. The holy race war he was trying to gear up with the shooting is part of Christian Dominionism doctrine about the coming of the apocalypse end times. That’s why they want a race war — to hasten things along. Look it up.

    Which is also what Da’esh want. They believe in a final apocalyptic battle between Islam and everyone else – and they’re doing their best to bring it about.

    And it appears that some elements in the West are sleepwalking into joining their eschatological fever-dream. What worries me is that some of the right-wingnuts also believe we are in “The End Times” and this outcome would not deter them….

  196. Great post, John, from the title through to the graceful malletings.
    Thanks also to commenters posting so insightfully. In particular, I’m glad to acquire the phrase, “I thought I had maxed out on shame about Texas”, as I fear it may continue in constant use, and thrilled to see and hear Sir Ian McKellen remind me how playwright dead for 399 years can outdo the empathy and humanity of a flock of present-day (Republican) politicians.

  197. Kat, that was some interesting stuff about the power dynamics of xenophobia. I’m sort of interested in two of its mechanisms. One is the enjoyment of fear, the other is the need to be inside a group.

    The enjoyment of fear, if not a universal trait, is certainly a very common one. From ghost stories to horror movies, humans have enjoyed fear since prehistoric times. Americans fearful of a very low probability threat are indulging in this behavior and getting that same thrill one gets from reading a good horror story or watching a horror movie. The differences are that 1) they are unconscious of it, and 2) they are subjecting themselves to it for hours every day, day in and day out. (I wouldn’t go so far as to say fear is a drug, but like anger, there are similarities when it is “abused”.)

    The need to be inside a group (I’m using those words specifically, as you’ll see) are even deeper than enjoyment of fear. Some animals developed a grouping instinct because it offered a better chance of survival. Those social animals that found themselves outside of the group might have their chance of survival drop to nil. OK, I’m not telling you anything new, I’m sure.

    Now bear with me a moment, because I am relying on a 30 year old memory of reading an anthropology text. Iirc, it was Cultural Antropology by Clifford Geertz. What I remember reading was this: in small “primitive” social groups, the group was understood to be a body, both literally and figuratively (although those categories might not apply). At those times when the health of the social body was threatened, the “openings” would be sealed off and suspect elements expelled as a defense against sickness. (This idea of the social body isn’t exclusive to the ancients or to “primitives”, of course. It’s reflected in our everyday language, eg, the body politic, the head of state.)

    There is a strong human urge to be “inside” the group body, especially in times when it feels threatened. We still carry with us the fear that we will die if we are expelled or left out. This might be what makes fear of the “other” contagious, especially among those predisposed to “fear-pleasure abuse”.

    Obviously, these mechanisms are subject to manipulation.

    I hope I laid that out clearly and didn’t leap too far for anyone to follow.

  198. Thank you for the beautifully worded, thoughtful essay. Will repost and repost. On a side note that many are bound to think trivial but I think signals the final descent of American writing, please cap the “Is” in your story—it’s a verb, and ALL verbs are capped in titles, both in AP and Chicago style manuals. Stand tall with the copyedited media of the world, so the “journalists” cannot so easily dismiss your well-considered comments. Now that you know, you’ll see it everywhere…

  199. Marcos El Malo:

    It’s not the need to be inside a group exactly. They already feel inside a group. It’s that they feel their group runs the joint (and often they do at least in part.) It’s greed — to have the power, control, access to resources and control of access for others, to claim superiority not simply belonging, to be able to control, shape and dominate the cultural identities, resulting in power, status and money and goods. It’s what we’re trained in. When that idea is challenged, it’s perceived as the biggest threat, because it erodes the claim of inherent, natural, divine, etc., right to have that power and position, and the right to control military force to maintain that position. If they aren’t the identity, in charge, able to make the groups they designate inferior defined, restricted and deferrent to them, then they have a problem and may lose the power or opportunities for power. It’s where the resistance to actual equality and to hearing about and addressing discrimination and inequality comes from.

    So again, direct fear doesn’t really enter into it. None of these people are actually scared of the Syrian refugees and what any of them may do. They’re scared of what happens to the society and their power position if the Syrian refugees are accepted, treated as equal residents, and they don’t get to be the “real” Americans in charge who scrutinize, judge, restrict, harass, etc. the refugees in their lives here. If the Syrian refugees live in America as equal human beings and eventually equal Americans, It means they’ve lost political, cultural and financial power, so they try to delegitimize and dehumanize the refugees — harder when it’s a lot of children, but possible. When people say that they are scared about the Syrian refugees, they are asserting their right to control American culture and other people in the country. It’s a power grab of their own position in society, not a real fear of risk. They’re uncomfortable that people who look like them and who they approve of don’t automatically get to hold most or all of the power, like they’ve been used to usually.

    So xenophobia, despite the phobia part, isn’t really fear. It’s a tool. (The social concept of races and racism is a similar tool.) It keeps other groups from getting representation and advocates in the governments — and thus equal power in the system. It makes it difficult for those people to find permanent housing, open businesses, get loans, get a decent education or healthcare for their kids. But more importantly than the treatment of the people themselves (since they don’t care if they die or not,) is the symbolism of declaring them a threat. If you declare them a threat and that has force in society and policy, then that means your group has the power and other groups have less. You get to define everything, and decide who is a threat and how, punish them, etc. You get the goodies and can dole them out as you like or not at all. You are the “real” Americans, in charge, and you make sure that they can never, ever be too.

    Xenophobia thus can actually cause war to decline somewhat as people want to be isolationist, not go invade other countries. Because if you invade other countries and win or create a war zone, then populations from those countries enter into your country and system. And they may over time accumulate resources, representation, legal power as equal that undercuts your claimed power at home. Even though it’s better economically for your country to bring them in, give them access and let them produce to the fullest for you, it might change the system to where they are seen as much a part of the country as you, and that means your group loses power, perceived power and the benefits therein, which is considered more important.

    The people on the Southwest flight weren’t scared. If they were scared, they wouldn’t have taken the plane. What they wanted was to assert that they — mainly white, English first speakers, got to be the real Americans and more that the Arab Americans were treated as inferior, non-Americans, who had to do what they said, who were punished and denied access to the service they’d paid for because these passengers decided it. They got to define the Arab Americans as a threat, which meant they had power, which they backed up with violent threat of disrupting the flight until the cops showed up. It’s cultural symbolism. They were challenging the rights of the Arab Americans to be Americans, who had equal rights, spoke Arabic and English, and equal say in the country. And they could use the behavior of other Arabs (9/11, etc.) to claim that this was oh so necessary and reasonable, when it was nothing of the sort.

    We’ve already let in Syrian refugees in the recent and earlier past. We’ve let in all kinds of refugees including many Muslim ones. The bombings in Paris, even if they had been carried out by Syrian refugees, would not make refugees more or less a threat again. But as a cultural symbol to declare power and control? They’re golden, especially for folks who feel they are losing their ultimate power or who play to such folks for money and position. All of this deep concern over the safety, the cost, the logistics and the consequences of letting in these particular refugees is political and cultural theater to assert power. That people die by it may be a great deal less important to many than that affirmation that they are the true identity, in charge and above — and get control of the goodies (jobs, government services, etc.)

    Every time somebody spouts “take our country back” or “Dear Leader Obama” or all that other crap, they are declaring themselves grand poobahs of culture, identity and power. It’s a cultural reflex. But it can change, mainly by insisting challenges that various groups of humans are humans with equal worth and rights. Which face resistance. Which has to continue to be challenged. And then eventually, say, black Americans can use whatever fucking water fountain they want and we don’t beat up the Irish and Italians for being Irish and Italian anymore. But first, there’s the cultural jousting using them as the football and people die from it. It would be nice if we’d cut it out. But that’s the real fear we deal with — the fear of losing power if groups of humans are treated more equally and seen as equal.

    It’s a power fear, not a personal safety fear. If Americans gave a crap about personal safety, we’d have universal healthcare and gun control laws. But again, it’s not an American thing alone; it’s a world thing.

  200. Marcos El Malo

    The difficulty with this explanation is that other groups, who have a great deal more reason to be afraid, are not responding in the way that many people in the US are. Thus, the response to the request by the Belgian police in general, and those in Brussels in particular, that people refrain from using the social media to comment on police activities, to avoid tipping off terrorists, was to launch lots and lots of tweets of cat pictures, which were great fun in themselves, and demonstrated the refusal of the Belgian people to give the terrorists what they want. They weren’t cowering in fear, it’s not a war zone, and they made the terrorists look silly by laughing at them. The picture of a large bowl of cat food, tweeted with their thanks by the Brussels police was the cherry on top.

    By contrast, the U.S. European Command provided exactly what the terrorists wanted by banning all military and civilian personnel from travelling to or through Brussels, and ordering all military and civilian personnel in Brussels to stay indoors in a safe place. Given that Brussels is the political and administrative headquarters of NATO, it really isn’t helpful to have the US representatives hiding behind their sofas whilst these events unfold.

    Turkey has requested an emergency meeting of NATO, following the shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey; we don’t even know whether the U.S. will take part, given the orders of the US European Command. This is not a good way to behave if you genuinely wish to deter terrorism; it’s just demonstrated that a tiny group of people can grind the US in general, and US European Command in particular, to a juddering halt.

    And that is why I believe that John called it absolutely right in his post.

    Admittedly he’s also very fond of cats, but he wrote it before #Brussels Lockdown, aka ‘The Kittens Strike Back’, so we can aquit him on charges of allowing Zeus, Sugar and Spice to dictate his policy. Let’s face it, looking down his list of GOP potential candidates for President of the US in 2016 makes it blindingly obvious that kittens would do a better job, even if they had to resort to the I Ching on particulary difficult bits…

  201. I cannot understand how politicians who run on their Christian credentials can be comfortable taking the exact opposite approach that the Bible tells them to take. For example, Matthew 25: 35-46, in which Jesus said: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” His listeners ask when they did all of these things for Jesus and he replies: “I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Those who did not welcome the strangers are told that they are headed for “the eternal fire.” It seems simple to me: the Christian thing to do is to welcome strangers. Even Syrian strangers.

  202. Marcos wrote: “Americans fearful of a very low probability threat are indulging in this behavior and getting that same thrill one gets from reading a good horror story or watching a horror movie. ”

    For example, the Christians who indulge in beliefs about widespread Satanic cults sacrificing children. It gives them a thrill to imagine being “opposed” by such people, but they don’t actually *behave* like people who know about widespread child sacrifice.

  203. My father was a firm Christian throughout his life but his attitudes toward faith and trust were summed up in Matthew 7:15-20.

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

    To borrow from a favorite comedian, whenever someone says, “as a Christian, ….”, suggest instead the more truthful, “as a hypocrite, …”. People who introduce themselves in general conversation by referring to a religion, are so often lazy, intellectually weak or seeking to use a get out of jail free card, that my default response is instant distrust, and that’s a crying shame.

  204. If not us – who? If not now – when?

    It’s time for all nations who believe in freedom to stop the idiocy and step up. Help people. Smack the bad guys and make the world a better place.

    It’s what we expect all our heroes in our F&SF stories to do. We call them heroes for a reason.

    Maybe we should start acting like them.

  205. Bill: “Yet Christianity is casually slandered”

    Dafuq you talking about?

    “But neither of them should be condemned for their religions”

    Every time I have seen someone point out christian terrorists, it is almost always in direct response to an Islamophobic bigot trying to say “Islam pure evil (with a side order implication of Christianity pure good)”. At which point, listing evil done by christians is neither casually slandering Christianity nor condemning someone for their religion, but rather a direct way to refute Islamophobes who think their own shit dont stink.

    If someone says there are no black swans, you can disprove it with a single swan.

    Unfortunately, bigots always be like, “ya but that guy was *different*. He wasnt truly Christian”.

    So then to prove to everyone else they are a bigot, a laundry list of christian terrorists is provided, and the bigot predictably responds by excluding or downplaying every single example given. At which point, the bigot in the conversation has just identified himself to anyone paying attention.

    Outing bigots in 2015 is kinda like playing “Mafia”. They will never admit they are a bigot (mafia), but it becomes clear to everyone else that they are.

  206. Hey, Mr. Scalzi, I really appreciate your input on these things, and I have a question: so what the hell are we supposed to do? I’m ready to do whatever I can to help the refugees, but I know that if I go into this thing without knowing what the hell I’m doing I’m not going to be able to do jack squat. I’ve got zero money, so I can’t just donate, and besides that feels like a get out of jail free card anyway–throwing money at a problem doesn’t make it go away. I want to be able to do something concrete to help, but I don’t know what. Help?

  207. Cricketygibet:

    You can contact the aid groups that are helping deal with the refugees and see if there are non-money things you could do for them, like collecting supplies to help the refugees resettle, etc. And if they are bringing families to your area, you might be able to help with local efforts to set things up for them.

    But the best thing you can do for now is to keep talking in favor of them and shooting down the “we should be scared of these refugees because Muslims” arguments. Because once we get them here, they are facing the self-appointed guardians of American rightness trying to hurt them in their new home in order to feel powerful. So changing the atmosphere by speaking up for them doesn’t protect their children from everything, but it does help, the more of us who do it.

  208. Please remember that the Republican politicians who are worried about the safety of the refugees are mostly the same Republican politicians who refuse to allow Obama to shut down Guantanamo Bay detention camp because the prisoners are too dangerous to be allowed on the US mainland. Clearly, they have no idea what “safe” means.

  209. A single terrorist is one too many. If that person manages to kill on of your loved ones, I promise you’ll feel the exact same way. Lost mine in 9/11 attacks. How quickly we forget. How completely ignorant this country has become. Obama, Kerry and The Clintons are stuck in their crazy world of ideology that just doesn’t work in the real world. It is a very dangerous place. Do we want to become Israel where these kind of attack are “normal.” In case your confused, we do not. We are 19 trillion in the hole, our military is weak, the president gets laughed at by every other leader in the world including Fidel, his brother, the Iranians and the rest of the long list that have suckered him time and time again. Putin is ROFLMAO at this loser. Get real people!

  210. Unfortunately, bigots always be like, “ya but that guy was *different*. He wasnt truly Christian”.

    The “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Of course.

  211. Dear Lord and Don,

    Asked and addressed by moi six days ago, so you’re really late to the party:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/11/20/frightened-ignorant-and-cowardly-is-no-way-to-go-through-life-son/#comment-803198

    When your real-life battles work like your fictional “hero” and DON’T kill a hundred times as many innocent bystanders as the terrorist act that got you all het up in the first place, then you’ll have a case. Right now, you’re just pushing for state-supported homicide.

    And, yeah, Don, THAT’S what’s real, not your pathetic ad hominem.

    pax / Ctein

  212. Again, the majority of post 9/11 terrorism in the U.S. has come from white male Americans, usually white supremacists, with a goal of either starting a holy race war and/or staging a military coup against the U.S. government. So if one terrorist is too many, should we put all our white American males on an ice flow, since one out of thousands of them may kill? You cannot prove that a Syrian refugee — fleeing the terror of terrorists — is any more likely to kill a bunch of people than white American males who’ve killed thousands of other Americans over the years. All you’ve got is bigotry, but I have much more to fear, statistically, from white American males who stock guns, are anti-Semites, anti-POC and think all women should be beaten up to get them to behave than I do from Syrian refugees. We just had white people shoot up black protesters, and a white guy shoot up a Planned Parenthood clinic, again.

    And you know that, just as you know that Reagan and the Bush family created massive deficits, the last of which we are still dealing with because of W. Bush’s decisions, and that Clinton created a budget surplus — which W. Bush threw away.– and Obama has been steadily reducing the deficit that Bush and Wall Street created. But you don’t care, because you’re more interested in proclaiming yourself the superior human being instead of respecting facts or honoring the person you lost in 9/11.

    All you have is bigotry, Don, which is a bad drug, and which means i also have much more to fear from you than I do any Syrian refugee in this country. You’re advocating killing children, Don. And you have no compunction about lying over it. Those who would condemn thousands of people by pretending that they are somehow more dangerous than the rest of our population are the ones who lead to mass killings. We used your rationale to justify killing the Native Americans, turn Africans into slaves, inter Japanese and German Americans in camps and take their property, and every mass imprisonment and killing we have in our history. We have used your argument to ban, punish, discriminate against and beat up the Chinese, the Irish, the Jews and every other immigrant group that comes to our shores, whose labor we exploited for pennies. It’s a fake argument that has more to do with political power than fears of safety. And it gets people killed needlessly, just as badly as terrorism. It’s what terrorism is used for to promote. The killers of 9/11 did so to make people scared of all Muslims and do their work for them.

    So if you really want to stop deaths of loved ones, because the Syrian refugees have them too, you’ll give up trying to use the Syrians and their kids for political points. Because again, the reality is that Syrian refugees have already been coming in to the country, and nobody said a peep until they thought it would help advance their worldview into more political power. We get 200,000 immigrants a year, some of them Muslims. And none of them have the killing record of white American males.

  213. Dear Don,

    I must thank you for inducing me to do some research, and actually get some data to back up opinions (oh, how very un-Interwebby of me). The following are approximate because I combined numbers from multiple independent sources. All of them appear reliable, objective and non-partisan, but they don’t entirely agree, although the differences are modest. Such is the wonderful world of data aggregation. Compare and contrast!

    (Population of Israel: 8,000,000, in case anyone cares)

    Life Expectancy:

    Israel: 82 years
    US: 79 years

    Total death rate:

    Israel:500/100,000 people/year
    US: 800/100K

    Death rate from homicides:

    Israel: 1.7/100K in the past 5-6 years (4.5 among arabs 1.0 among jews)
    US: 4-5/100K

    In the single year of 2002, the death rate from terrorist attacks in Israel actually did exceed the total homicide rate in the US. In the years before and after that, it was half the US rate or less. In the past half dozen years, it’s averaged under 0.2/100K

    Hence, in Israel, 10% of recent homicides are terrorist connected, which is still only 0.04% of deaths from all causes. If the US had a comparable level of what you asserted was “normal” in Israel (and obvious, it’s not– it’s exceptional) it would increase the US homicide rate by 4% and the overall death rate by a scandalous 0.025%.

    Unacceptable! Oh yes, we must bomb and discriminate to make us safe.

    Tell ya what– safety’s your biggest concern and overrides any considerations of humanity and civility? I’ve got an answer for you.

    Move to Israel.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Oh yeah, and just in case you’re inclined to repeat your ad hominem assertion about how differently I’d feel if I’d lost a loved one, too.

    I have. I don’t.

    You lose that argument, as well.

    pax / Ctein
    ==========================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ==========================================

  214. Ctein: My personal take is that Don is a drive-by troll, repeating all of the top anti-Obama, anti-Muslim, anti-Clinton Republican talking points. The arguments don’t have to make sense, they don’t have to fit the facts, they just have to have the emotional impact for people with a certain mindset, to reinforce their world view. I see the same messages forwarded by my father-in-law, and hear them from Republican politicians. You can spend all the time you want digging up facts to refute their ridiculous comments, but you will never change their minds.

  215. Dear Bruce,

    Pretty much anyone who trots out the ad hominem qualifies as a troll. What got me interested was that there was a specific claim I could research, which kinda interested me. I was pretty sure the level of terrorist violence in Israel was negligible, just a vague qualitative sense of the numbers. And I know that Americans, being geographically isolated from most of the world, have developed a completely unrealistic sense of global safety. What surprised me was how all-around safer Israel was.

    I figured it was worth posting, ’cause some folks’ll bookmark it, and when similar such nonsense arises, as it will sooner or later, they can just link to it.

    I know I won’t change the ignorant or duplicitous fear-mongers’ minds. I’m just providing ammunition for everyone else.

    If anyone cares, sources included, but were not limited to, the CIA handbook, the CDC and its Israeli equivalent, and WHO. I only considered two sources to be independent if their numbers differed; if they were exactly the same, I assumed they were one source. Not a guarantee of accuracy, but it helps.

    pax / Ctein

  216. Don: “If that person manages to kill on of your loved ones… Lost mine in 9/11 attacks.”

    I call BS.

    “our military is weak”

    Our military is the largest on the planet, larger than the next 8 countries combined. You’re a fucking idiot for not knowing how big your own military is while complaining about it, or you’re a fucking liar becasue you knew but didn’t care.

    “the president gets laughed at by every other leader in the world including Fidel”

    And if Fidel Castro had endorsed Obama, you’d say it is proof that Obama is a communist. So, thanks for playing the “Damned if you do, Damned if you Don’t” game, brought to you by Rightwingnutjobs Incorporated.

    Here’s the president getting snubbed by a long line of world leaders.

  217. I missed Don’s original nonsense over Thanksgiving, otherwise I would have malleted it for nonsense, but in the meantime I see that he’s been handled perfectly well. That said, time to stop pummeling Don and move on, folks. And Don, if you’re still around, the next time you peddle that weaksauce here, I’ll mallet it. So don’t bother.

  218. I don’t go after every post of “weaksauce,” but when one’s a useful jumping off point, and JS hadn’t malleted, I may use one. (Hey I was stuck in a hotel room.) And that’s to reiterate that people have no proof that the Syrian refugees are any more dangerous than any other group of people. And that what they are advocating regarding the refugees is causing their deaths and killing more kids on the fake fear that something might happen down the road. It’s a political dodge, and if you’re making it without understanding that’s what you are doing, you’re even more of a threat to my life and my family than the knowing political operators. You’re not trying to keep people safe; you’re trying to hurt people. And I’m just going to keep calling it out, not because it convinces the person, but because it counters the megaphone call to hurt people and kill children that makes up so much of our social chatter and often public policy..

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