GUEST COMMENTARY: Pence’s restriction is grounded in common sense

The NWI Times

December 02, 2015 6:00 pm • By Elliot Bartky and Allon Friedman

In recent weeks a few prominent Hoosiers, many of them from faith-based organizations, have publicly criticized Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, calling it “unwelcoming,” “inhumane,” and “xenophobic.” It is important that all Hoosiers understand why this criticism is misguided and itself unethical.

Many critics declare the United States should open its doors to refugees in unrestricted fashion like the Europeans have done. But the Europeans are quickly realizing the great error they have made.

A recently leaked document from German intelligence officials warned that by accepting the migrants Germany will be importing “Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples, as well as a different understanding of society and law.”

Polling confirms these concerns, finding that 13 percent of the refugees to Europe have a lukewarm or mixed view of the Islamic State while 10 percent openly support it. That is, nearly one out of four will be susceptible to recruitment by Islamic State.

When one realizes that it took only a handful of jihadists to commit catastrophic acts like 9/11 or the recent Paris attacks, arguing that these immigrants do not pose a danger to Western, liberal nations like Germany or the U.S. — much less an existential threat — is simply denying reality.

Critics of Pence assert our vetting system is better than the Europeans, allowing us to identify those who intend to harm us before they arrive. This assumption contradicts recent testimony given by top FBI officials to Congress. This is in part because the vetting system is largely based on databases that are essentially useless when screening people from Syria who have no previous track record.

Pence’s detractors also maintain that refugees to the U.S. have an excellent safety record. But this argument greatly underestimates the danger. Dozens of previous refugees have been connected to terrorism in recent years while an unknown, presumably much larger number, are terrorist sympathizers.

We easily forget that our enemies are very patient and willing to wait until the time is ripe to act.

It is astonishing that some faith-based Jewish leaders have no qualms drawing a parallel between the Syrian refugees and Jews barred from entering America during the Holocaust. Jews seeking refuge from Nazi Germany were devoted to the values America espouses while the data suggest a significant number of the immigrants openly support Islamic State. These same Jewish leaders are also apparently untroubled by the possibility that some of the refugees will bring with them intense Jew hatred, which is an integral part of Syrian culture.

Besieged European Jews do not have the luxury of such wishful thinking. German Jewish leaders recently called for limiting refugee numbers because “they come from cultures where hatred of Jews and intolerance are an integral part.”

The unrestricted acceptance of refugees at this time will endanger our security and introduce forces that threaten our values of tolerance and pluralism. Pence’s recent restriction on such immigration is therefore an ethical and responsible decision consistent with his responsibility to protect Hoosiers. It is also grounded in common sense.

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