The rhetoric we are currently hearing in the campaigns of Republicans aspiring to occupy the White House is cringe-worthy. They have increased their hatred toward immigrants and refugees, with speeches which bring to mind the darkest and most shameful chapters in the history of this country, such as the concentration camps where over 100,000 Japanese — many of them American-born — were held during World War II or the strong refusal to accept Jews who were running from Nazi Germany.
Even the language that is being used is the same as back then, an era we didn’t believe would ever return. It is in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks that the U.S. has fallen into paranoia; there is fear. Those right-wingers who dream of being president are taking advantage of that: One demanding the creation of a national registry of all Muslims, citizens or not; another suggesting that only Christians should be allowed inside; and a third, comparing Syrian refugees to rabid dogs, while the House of Representatives, with a Republican majority, voted in favor of keeping them all out of here.
Donald Trump — who started his campaign attacking immigrants coming from Mexico, of whom he said, “They are bringing crime, and they’re rapists” — is now against Syrian refugees. This occurred after a fake Syrian passport was found next to the body of one of the Paris assailants, thus turning all Syrians into U.S. Public Enemy Number One in the minds of many.
Trump says he will not allow the entry of any refugee from that country and demands the compilation of a database containing all Muslims inside the U.S., adding that they should carry IDs identifying them as such — an idea that has emerged before and had great acceptance after the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York in 2001, but was never carried out.
But Trump is not the only one who thinks like that: In 2007, a Gallup survey showed that 30 percent of U.S. citizens were in favor of an imposed identification of Muslims. That same year, a radio host suggested, supposedly as a joke, that Muslims should have a special tattoo or carry an armband, and many listeners called to show their support.
The new leader of the Republican majority, Paul Ryan, says that the new legislation banning refugees is not against Muslims, but against the arrival of Syrians, but few in his party seem to be paying attention. “Can you name for me or identify for me a suicidal terrorist that was not a Muslim?” Steve King, congressman for Iowa, asked.
But it is not only him. Thirty Republican governors and one Democrat have banned the entry of every Syrian to their state, even though the federal government argues that this is illegal. Among them, other aspiring presidential candidates: Chris Christie from New Jersey and John Kasich from Ohio.
Some governors have even suggested concentrating Syrian refugees in special camps; others want to deploy the National Guard to prevent Syrians from entering their states. On their part, Trump demands that mosques should be closed and Ted Cruz seeks to prevent the entry of every Syrian practicing Islam. This, the analysts say, is giving terrorists a great gift: It is making it easier for them to recruit followers and justify attacks.
Even the number of possible refugees has been exaggerated. Republicans say that over 100,000 are coming, but Obama’s administration seeks to admit 10,000, and so far, only 2,100 have arrived, after a process that takes from 18 to 24 months. The number of admitted refugees is minuscule compared to the 800,000 accepted by Germany.
The Democrats can’t seem to believe what they are hearing, and among the most outraged are the only two Congress members who profess Mohammed’s religion: Keith Ellison, from Minnesota, and André Carson, from Indiana, who has said that “Daesh (the Islamic State) is trying to make a case that the West is at war with Islam … That’s a lie … But when we say ‘We’re only going to take in Christian refugees,’ Daesh gets up and says, ‘Told ya.'”