After the Paris Attacks, What Next for U.S. Refugee Admissions?

By Dan Cadman on November 16, 2015

On November 12, the Center published a blog posting I wrote about airport security in which I said, "My fear is that we will unthinkingly and unnecessarily make many of the same bad choices the French have made, admitting large numbers of people who, once here, will likely rebel heart and soul against the permissive nature of the society that they see around them, sometimes leading to tragic consequences."

The very next day a series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place in Paris, claiming more than 120 lives so far, with many more wounded and in critical condition. The Islamic State (ISIS) has taken responsibility. Some of the attackers and accomplices have already been identified as Frenchmen of Arabic origin. I'm not prescient; I don't prognosticate well; I'm not even particularly good at connecting the dots. It's just that sometimes things take on such a painfully self-evident nature that they can't be ignored.

In the same posting, I referred to remarks made by former CIA Director James Woolsey about poor refugee vetting, even though they are permitted to work at airports, and I connected that remark to the incoming wave of Syrian refugees planned by the Obama administration. Found near what was left of one of the suicide bombers was the passport of a Syrian "refugee" who had been registered on arrival in Greece. So far, authorities are cautious about saying the bomber was the holder of the passport — but that's most likely because it's hard to compare a passport photo and registered fingerprints when the bomber has immolated himself, leaving neither face nor fingers to compare against.

As for myself, I harbor only a little doubt that the bomber and the registered "migrant" will in the end prove one and the same; it's the kind of thing that ISIS would do to deliberately sow the seeds of doubt and fear within Europe, even as they know that the response among the progressive left will inevitably be ineffectual. Jihadists seem to love rubbing our noses in our collective Western liberal traditions, which increasingly seem to be more a reflection of self-loathing, as if we are lemmings in training.

Sure enough, a friend shared with me the following, posted on the day after the attacks: "Our terrorism double standard: After Paris, let's stop blaming Muslims and take a hard look at ourselves." Really? Really? I had no idea, no idea at all, that I was responsible for the carnage in Paris. How could I be so myopic?

The foolishness at Salon isn't much different, though, than that shown by the candidates in the most recent Democratic debate, all of whom declined to speak about "radical Islam" in connection with the Paris, or other recent, attacks. Ironic. The Islamists have no problem connecting their attacks with religion.

Bernie Sanders basically indicated that such words don't matter. This seems to be an extension of the "What difference does it make?" defense mounted by Hillary Clinton in her first post-Benghazi congressional hearing focusing on why the attacks took place. If such things really don't matter, why did we bother with a bipartisan presidential commission after the 9/11 attacks?

The answer is, of course, that words do matter, and it certainly makes a difference to understand how and why an attack took place, and by whom. If you don't know who your enemies are, or why they wish to inflict harm, how can you combat them?

Where does that leave us with this incipient influx of let's-hope-to-God-they're-really-refugees? My hope, forlorn as it may be, is that good sense will prevail and the administration will at least call a time-out. Count on that not being acceptable to the progressive left, though, all of whom will undoubtedly issue anguished cries along the lines of "We can't hold it against the others, who are surely legitimate, just because one person abused the system — that would be wrong!" at even the first hint of delay.

So let me just finish here on the admittedly low note with which I began the airport security blog: "It sometimes seems to me that political correctness will be the death of us all."