Chris Christie should be ashamed of his fear-mongering

Filed in National by on November 17, 2015


On June 4, 1939, a German ocean liner filled with 908 Jewish refugees looking for asylum was turned away by the U.S. Some were finally accepted by European countries, but as a result of our lack of empathy, 254 of those passengers ended up dying in the Holocaust.

Now, Republicans like Chris Christie are calling for the U.S., the land of the free and the home of the brave, to stop accepting new Syrian refugees into our country in a shameful attempt to pander to angry right-wingers fearful of an ISIS attack.

Have we learned nothing?

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About the Author ()

Rob Tornoe is a local cartoonist and columnist, and can be seen in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Press of Atlantic City, The News Journal, and the Dover Post chain of newspapers. He's also a contributor to Media Matters and WHYY. Web site: Twitter: @RobTornoe

Comments (38)

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  1. Delaware Dem says:

    Republicans have forgotten the lessons of the 2000’s. There is no chance they remember the shame that was our pre-World War II stance towards Jewish refugees.

    Great work, Rob.

  2. Liberal Elite says:

    Shame from the 2000’s???

    They can’t even remember the shame of shutting down the government last year, or even why they did it.

  3. Jason330 says:

    Our 10,000 person quota is a cruel joke at the outset. This country basically sucks.

  4. Liberal Elite says:

    It’s also comical that the right wing reacts to terrorists in Paris, but ignores them when they attack people in Yemen.

    More people died from terrorism in Yemen, than in Paris last week…

    Why? Racism. Some victims just don’t matter.

  5. Jason330 says:

    Let me ask you guys this. The GOP (From Copeland up to Cruz) really sincerely thinks they’ve gotten hold of a winning issue here. All the statements reveal a genuine giddiness around fucking over 10,000 war refugees, and the idea of “bombing the shit out of” … where? Who knows. Just bomb it.

    Anyway… am I nuts? or are they right?

  6. Prop Joe says:

    Guess we’ll see…

    Am I the only one thinking that it’s not a stretch for GOP strategists or one of the candidates to contemplate helping stage some form of terrorist attack here on U.S. soil, with the assailant being identified as a refugee or a person of Middle Eastern descent? Or am I remembering too much from the show 24?

    So hard to keep reality and fiction separate these days…

  7. pandora says:

    I given up underestimating the American public’s ability to wet their pants. We have become a nation of bravado with very little to back up our swagger. It’s the reason for all the guns. Everyone is afraid of everything. I still can’t wrap my head around how people function in their daily lives, always thinking someone is out to get them. It’s a mental illness and we see the result of it with our daily gun violence. We’re #1 in paranoia.

    To your question, Jason… I’m not sure how this is going to play. For some reason Americans like being afraid of everything and everyone. After 9/11 the mantra was “Don’t let the terrorists win!” Sadly, we let the terrorists win.

  8. mouse says:


  9. Bob says:

    Hey, I take Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s (the leader of ISIS) word. You know, “I’ll see you in New York”. Just taking refugees with ISIS sprinkled in doesnt make sense when the leader has said he is after us.

  10. Liberal Elite says:

    @Bob “Hey, I take Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s (the leader of ISIS) word.”

    You’re willing to believe this guy? …and not Obama?

    Why is that?

  11. Xenophobia? Check. Racism? Check. Endless bombing of some place over there? Check. Smells like a winner to the GOP. Smells like shit to the rest of us.

  12. Forget Benghazi, forget Guantanamo, forget nearly anything else.

    I just get the impression that taking in new Syrian refugees is a third rail politically — downright toxic to the Dems.

    I base that on the people who called in our two telephone talk-shows today — either first-time or seldom-heard callers. While not a scientific indicator of public opinion here in northern Delaware, it just seemed that many folks are absolutely paranoid, and not just the usual conservative callers.

    Interesting that Congressman Carney seems to be much more reserved about this issue than either Governor Markell or Senator Carper. And some Democratic governors in other states appear to be lying low…

  13. Liberal Elite says:

    @ARL “Forget Benghazi, forget Guantanamo, forget nearly anything else.”

    But both of those are already “fake” issues… Issues that are only still sort of on the table to rile up idiots.

    As for the Syrian refugee issue, that will blow over even faster than they forgot about Newtown and Sandy Hook. More than 1000 people have been killed by terrorists this year, and most of those have already been forgotten.

    It’s not like very many Americans were killed…

  14. Steve Newton says:

    The cognitive dissonance here is powerful. Gun rights activists like to refer derisively to people intimidated by open carry as “pants shitters.” They carry their weapons because they are going to be ready, and be the first line of defense in a mass shooting even before the police get there.

    But the unfortunate reality for them is that they have now shit their own pants being terrified that somebody they think of and refer to often as “rag-head camel-jockeys” will actually start something and they will have to draw their weapons and put their rounds downrange where their mouths have always been.

    And suddenly the self-reliant are scared and want Uncle Sam to protect them from the mean old terrorists.

    As a libertarian I am ashamed to discover that an overwhelming majority of the people who claimed to be the first line of defense of our Constitutional Republic are exposed as pants-shitting cowards.

    We might as well have gun registration and gun confiscation if the people owning America’s estimated 300,000,000 private firearms are too chickenshit to live up to their own rhetoric when the occasional Daesh radical might be mixed in among thousands of Syrian war refugees.

    As for the “we only want to take Christian refugees” folks, they make me want to gag before I strangle them with their own prayer beads. At my very liberal Catholic parish last week (where I am sure 99% of the folks don’t own or at least don’t carry firearms) the question was not how do we be 100% safe, but how many folks can our church help place.

    So for this libertarian (who served 21 years in the US military) this is a moment wherein I will discover among those who proclaim themselves as self-reliant and (in the extremes) rhetorically willing to defend themselves from the government usurpation of their rights, who actually has the cojones to live free and share God’s mercy, and who is already so defeated by Daesh that they have to be rescued. End of rant.

  15. I see no need to write any further more on the topic. I’ll just copy and paste Mr. Newton’s sentiments

  16. Anon says:

    I agree with what Loudell said. People on FB who never talk issues/politics were commenting against the refugees coming here so this is an opportunity for Republicans while they hold a winning issue.

  17. bamboozer says:

    “this is an opportunity for Republicans while they hold a winning issue”

    Suspect said “winning issue” will have a short shelf life and be forgotten, Benghazi ranting aside, in relatively short order. As for Americans the older we get as a nation the more cowardly we seem to grow.
    And finally: Pandora? *Applause!*? For Steve’s guns, god and pants shitting rant??? Did you even read it?

  18. other anonymous says:

    i think some of you are seizing on the refugee issue just because you’d rather look pious about your tolerance than consider the complexities of world-wide terrorism. can’t we help the refugees without bringing them here? i agree that refugees coming here are not likely to be terrorists, but by digging in your heels on this aspect you just might give nut-case republicans the presidency. i think loudell is right, but it wouldn’t be the first time the far left screwed up its own chances by failing to be practical.

    and the jewish refugee issue was not the same as this one (not addressed in this thread but elsewhere in the liberal blogosphere). i think some people just didn’t like jews, instead of fearing they were terrorists. of course we should have taken the jews in. a whole different thing.

  19. pandora says:

    And I think we didn’t make the refugees an issue, that was the other side. They linked the refugees to terrorism. We simply pointed out, with facts, that they were wrong and lying. Facts aren’t pious.

  20. mouse says:

    There is no far left in this nation

  21. Anonymous says:

    Obama made the refugees an issue.

  22. other anonymous says:

    sure there is (a far left). it’s small because it’s it’s too extreme — too naive, too angry, too self-infatuated for most people. when liberals go too far to the left, they sometimes find themselves in league with fascists on the far right (free speech curtailed, political theories imposed). i’m not saying anybody at delaware liberal has gone this far, but i would like to see more actual “liberal” here.

  23. Jason330 says:

    “Obama made the refugees an issue.”

    It is brilliant insights like these that make blogging worth it.

  24. I think the continuous warring in the Middle East made the refugees prevalent.
    When I heard the president was willing to help out my thought was “awesome.” he didn’t make it an issue for me and I didn’t make it an issue for myself.

  25. Steve Newton says:

    @Other Anonymous

    and the jewish refugee issue was not the same as this one (not addressed in this thread but elsewhere in the liberal blogosphere). i think some people just didn’t like jews, instead of fearing they were terrorists. of course we should have taken the jews in. a whole different thing.

    Bullshit. Listen to the narratives out there. Even if there was no terrorism issue, the sub-text is clearly they are different and they are muslims and muslims can’t ever really become Americans, which is almost exactly the narrative pursued about some people just didn’t like jews.

    We would be having this pushback against Syrian refugees even if there was no attack on Paris because the Syrians are different, and God forbid that young men should flee a war zone. I’m tired of listening to this crap. If you want to make policy based on your prejudices and fears, so be it–at least own it.

    And as for bamboozer: I’d be thrilled to know what you objected to in my rant. All I can tell is that you didn’t approve of the words “God,” “guns,” and “pants shitters,” which apparently offended your sensibilities to such an extent that you did not actually read or at least comprehend what I wrote. Try again. I’d love to read an actual reasoned critique.

  26. mouse says:

    Liberal is a straw man for the talk radio crowd to attack

  27. Dave says:

    It’s a bit off topic since this is “If” thread, rather than a “How” thread. However, in 1975 we resettled over 135,000 Vietnamese (over the objections of then governor Jerry Brown, who was concerned about the economic impact to California). By most accounts that resettlement was largely successful with the Vietnamese pretty well assimilated into American society. That success has been attributed to the organized manner in which the government and social service agencies went about accomplishing the resettlement and the because the Vietnamese were dogged in their pursuit of a new life. I was in California in 1975 and knew several families personally. There is nothing they wouldn’t do to get ahead. I was also embarrassed to how hard they worked compare to myself.

    Contrast that history with the Somali refugees in Minnesota. According to according the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2008) 82 percent of Somalis in Minnesota live near or below the poverty line. And 68 percent of Somalis in Minnesota 25 and older do not have a high school diploma. Partly that’s a result of their cultural isolation from the rest of the community (e.g. lack of assimilation). Of course they haven’t been here all that long so there’s that. Still, that recent experience does not give one confidence that we know what we are doing.

    When we reach the point of not “If” but “How” it would nice to know that we are planning for success similar to the Vietnamese. Unfortunately, I fear that we are approaching it as a single step enterprise where the first step is the goal and succeeding steps are yet to be thought about.

    P.S. Cruz is able to be a candidate for President today, because his father was presumed to be a political refugee under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. He wasn’t mind you. He was here on a student visa, which expired, making him an illegal immigrant, except for the adjustment act. The only nationality to have the luxury of that status. Basically it boils down to the mantra – Everything for me, but not for thee.

  28. other anonymous says:

    steve newton: it would be despicable not to take in syrian refugees simply because they are “different,” just as it was not to take in the jews for that reason. i have no use for xenophobes. in this case, the refugees are from a religion that includes many people who want to destroy us –or don’t mind if others do — because mohammad. i don’t think there will be terrorists among the syrian refugees. what i actually think is that conservatives want to make a big issue out of this to discredit the left with the general public and help make sure some asshole republican becomes president. or maybe conservatives aren’t clever enough to do that on purpose, but i’m afraid that’s what’s happening. you think it’s bad now, wait for president carson/trump/cruz.

  29. pandora says:

    Wait… are you saying we should do the wrong thing for political reasons? That’s a scary thought that can be applied to a lot of things like, guns, god, gays, abortion, birth control, police shootings, civil rights, etc.. You really okay with this tactic?

  30. other anonymous says:

    sometimes you have to take the lesser of two evils. unfortunate, but that’s the way of the world. in this case, expect even worse things from a republican administration than what is already going on. pick the battles you can win. remember the cliche: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  31. pandora says:

    Um… okay… wow. At least you’re owning this. Meanwhile…

    French President Francois Hollande today promised that “France will remain a country of freedom,” defending his decision to honor a commitment to accept migrants and refugees despite Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

    They will be taking 30,000 refugees. France believes in freedom, unlike some of us. We really have become a nation of bed-wetters.

  32. Steve Newton says:

    @Other Anonymous–

    Actually this is a great opportunity to turn the narrative around, if only somebody like Hillary, Bernie, or even, say, a Rand Paul, was willing to do so.

    Here’s the narrative: America did not get to be great, to be exceptional, by always taking the “safe” course. The people who left England for religious freedom faced a wilderness of unknown dangers. They went anyway. The Africans kidnapped from their homelands into slavery could have curled up and died. Instead, they resisted, escaped, and eventually fought for their own freedom.

    The pioneers who built covered wagons and crossed the Great Plains had no guarantees that they would be safe, only that there was opportunity ahead–and a lot of them died trying. But others came.

    Each influx of new immigrants was supposed to be our death knell. Too many Catholics would mean the Pope controlled America. Too many Irish would mean disruption, dissipation, and drunkenness. Too many Chinese would mean mongrelization. Too many southern and eastern Europeans would mean anarchy, communism, and the degradation of the white race. Too many hispanics would mean too many brown people sucking out our welfare system (but illegals were good because …). Nativism has always been with us, and yet we have always prospered.

    The African-Americans who marches in Selma and Birmingham and Memphis knew for damn certain that some would die and many would be injured and they did it anyway. Because America. Because they weren’t cowards.

    Yet since the first space shuttle fell out of the sky we’ve sort of been shell-shocked into the whole notion that we can only survive if we are cocooned away from risk. People died crossing the Atlantic, settling the Great Plains. People will die going into space. People will die or be hurt by any military strategy we undertake, anytime an enemy sneak attacks. Pearl Harbor did not destroy our nation, although we stumbled badly with Japanese internment. 9/11 did not destroy our nation, although we stumbled even worse by giving away too many of our civil rights and by thinking we could erect great big walls around the US and sent out our soldiers on sorties into the barbarian lands to protect ourselves.

    This is not America. America is not a dream for cowards, it is a dream of and by free people who realize that big victories (sometimes only over ourselves) require us to leave our comfort zone and take some big risks.

    And the biggest risk of all is to live up to our own ideals, the ideals that America and freedom are ideas for everyone–not just when we want to export them at the barrel of a gun, but when we accept the tired, the poor, the hungry, the yearning to breathe free. That neither skin color nor religion prohibits any person from being converted to the dream of a free society that can be made to work for everybody.

    Yes, there are hard-headed strategies of containment and political realities to consider, but the first requirement is that we stop allowing ourselves to be coddled into being a nation of wusses.

    God damn I really want to hear some candidate–any candidate–actually get out there and lead!

  33. other anonymous says:

    pandora: owning up to saying the world is a complex place and that naiveté hurts the cause? yes.

    i would add that the gay rights battle, for instance, was one we could win, since, well, we did. but there was a point where moving too fast on that would have set back the cause a long way. i say the left might be overreacting to the refugee issue because the general public –yes, even decent people — is scared shitless about it right now. it’s going to take longer for americans to accept muslim fanaticism, or what looks like that to them. play to win in the long run. don’t self-destruct.

  34. liberalgeek says:

    Funny. You know what recent political movement moved faster than anyone thought it could (or should), same-sex rights.

    Consider that 8 years ago, we had DADT, one or two states that had legalized civil unions and a bunch of people running for President under the banner of a Constitutional amendment against same sex marriage.

    Within 2 years, the whole thing crumbled. EVERY setback became a launchpad for the next advancement. A candidate that took Dr. Newton’s stance would be heroic. Let’s hope someone does.

  35. Jason330 says:

    And yet.. have you noticed how national dems are getting quivery on the topic? I can’t wait for the Bryans to come out with battling “we have to be cautious” statements. BHL will probably go whole hog and sign Charlie Copeland’s petition.

    My god, how thew Democratic Party sucks.

  36. Liberal Elite says:

    @J “And yet.. have you noticed how national dems are getting quivery on the topic?”

    Not all national democrats. Just look at this awesome gem from Elizabeth Warren:
    “The U.S. is not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers.”