Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Refugees and Terrorism: A Response to Mark Krikorian in the National Review

For some time now, the Trump administration has been lobbing around the statistic that 300 resettled refugees are currently under FBI investigation for potential terrorism. Recently, this claim was backed up by James Comey, the FBI director.

Mark Krikorian of the National Review points out that it is impossible to 100% vet refugees before they enter the United States. He states, correctly, that UNHCR and State Department officials cannot guarantee that no refugees have terrorist ties. Of course this is true.

But it's also beside the point. It's impossible to vet anyone coming into the United States fully. To single out refugees is nonsensical, just as it is nonsensical to single out the nationals of a particular country over another country. The problem with our increasingly interconnected world is that a terrorist attack is as likely to be committed by a US citizen as a UK tourist as a Somali refugee. Easiest of all would be a US citizen living in the US. Why import when you can go local?

The most ridiculous part of attacking the refugee resettlement program for being a pathway for terrorism is the logistics. Think about it. You're ISIS and you want to commit a terrorist attack in the US. Do you A) contact a US citizen living in the US who is a supporter online, B) send a terrorist on a student visa, which means you have to wait for them to get the visa and then worry about them getting caught or C) recruit a refugee, make them appear really vulnerable so they get selected for the resettlement program, then cross your fingers and hope they get selected for resettlement to the US. Then wait two years for them to get processed. Then hope they don't change their mind once they realize that their family gets to go with them.

This doesn't mean that Trump's travel ban is nonsensical, however. Quite the contrary. By Trump's logic, Muslim refugees have Muslim children, thereby increasing the number of Muslims in the US. In Trump's mind, Muslim = terrorist, so if you keep out Muslims, you keep out the problem. Of course, Trump has yet to come up with a plan for all the white guy terrorism in the US. He probably sees white men as individuals, so when a white man shoots up yet another school, he probably thinks, "that's just that guy. That's not a generalized white guy problem."

So let's all agree to stop citing pointless statistics about individual refugees and terrorism, because that's not what the Muslim ban is about. And I'd like to see more articles in the National Review about what we're all going to do about angry young white guy terrorism. Maybe all white men between the ages of 15 and 30 could be put in some sort of containment camp until they pass a series of psychological exams to prove that they're not going to shoot up their families or places of work? Just a thought.