When we’re fearful we make bad decisions. That was true around World War II, when we denied refuge to European Jews and interned Japanese-Americans. That was true after 9/11, when we invaded Iraq and engaged in torture.
As George Takei, the Japanese-American actor who was interned for four years as a child, wrote in a Facebook post after the Paris attacks: “There no doubt will be those who look upon immigrants and refugees as the enemy as a result of these attacks, because they look like those who perpetrated these attacks, just as peaceful Japanese-Americans were viewed as the enemy after Pearl Harbor. But we must resist the urge to categorize and dehumanize, for it is that very impulse that fueled the insanity and violence perpetrated this evening.”
Let’s be real: Refugee admission is the most deeply vetted pathway into the United States. Even for Iraqis who worked as translators for our military, risking their lives to keep Americans alive and enjoying strong support of American officers, vetting can take a couple of years.
That’s why the 9/11 attackers didn’t enter the U.S. as refugees, but as students and tourists. If a terrorist group wants to attack America, it won’t wait two years to try to infiltrate as refugees. It’ll send people in as students or tourists, use fake or stolen U.S. or European passports, or just pay a human smuggler to take their terrorists across the border from Mexico or Canada.
In any case, the Paris attackers identified so far were of French and Belgian nationality, not Syrian. One was carrying a Syrian passport, true, but it apparently wasn’t his own and was perhaps meant to create an anti-Syrian backlash.
The Islamic State’s strategy is to create a wedge in the West between Muslims and non-Muslims. Whether that strategy succeeds depends on us: Will we clamp down with the harsh reaction the Islamic State sought? More here