Some of the points that Miguel Faria makes in his Feb. 10 rant (Media Duplicity) are valid, for example the fact that the president has the responsibility to protect Americans from imminent threats. The problem is that, as usual, he goes overboard in defending radical right-wing conspiracy theories, complaining about political correctness, judicial activism, and the mainstream media (i.e.anything except Fox, Breitbart and right-wing radio). In doing so, he loses the impartial moderate reader and fails to state the reasoning behind increased screening of citizens of specific nations.
Despite what Faria believes, Trump ran a xenophobic, nationalistic campaign which pandered to those disliking immigration. He clearly stated that we would put a ban on Muslim immigration until it was under control, pandering to rampant xenophobia. Perhaps that is why his executive order banning Muslims coming from seven nations (but, tellingly, not any country where he does business) was so poorly written.
I disagree with the core premise that Muslim immigration to America is currently out of control. And, the obvious idea behind it: that we do not want any Muslims here.
America is a melting pot, as Faria of all people should know. To be true to our ideals, America should not say that we refuse to accept all people of a certain religion. Both Republicans and Democrats must agree on this principle or our nation will turn its back on our core values.
Never miss a local story.
Our policy must not be driven by ethnic and/or religious discrimination. It should be factually based, a reasonable and rational interpretation of the situation. And, this is where my views differ from most left-wing commentators (with the exception of Bill Mahr).
Clearly, we want immigrants who accept our values and way of life. Along these lines, it is essential to know what people in various Muslim nations believe regarding Sharia law, based on the Koran versus secular law. When people are being lashed or limbs cut off, that is the result of Sharia law.
So, how widespread is the acceptance of Sharia law? In 2013 one of the most respected bi-partisan polling groups, Pew Research, surveyed numerous Islamic nations on this topic. The results are eye opening.
Support for Sharia law varies widely by region. In some areas, such as Europe, there is little enthusiasm for it. However, in many other geographic areas (including South/Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and much of Africa) support for Sharia law is astonishingly high.
For example, 91 percent of the population of Iraq is in favor of Sharia law, as is 89 percent of the Palestinian population. Even our allies in Egypt and Jordan, the numbers are over 70 percent. Obviously, these findings should have had a major impact on immigration policy.
First, there is a danger in saying that we will bring in a set number of immigrants from places like Syria, as Obama intended. Clearly, we should only admit people who have values compatible with ours. Screening individuals will be difficult in failed nations.
Second, the more Muslim refugees rapidly taken in, the less the ability of our nation to absorb them into the melting pot — especially if their values are significantly different than ours.
For example, the dramatic influx of Muslims into Europe has meant an increase in terrorist attacks against Jews. In France, over 9,000 Jews are leaving each year for safer nations. That is not something we want repeated here.
Third, if any immigrants do turn out to be terrorist plants, the “build a wall” chorus will be strengthened. The resulting backlash will be harmful for immigration in general.
Immigration has historically helped our aging nation in a number of ways. For example, bringing in information technology geniuses, doctors and nurses, as well as people who are filling jobs Americans do not want, such as seasonal agriculture.
The United States is currently taking in a large number of immigrants each year, both legal and illegal. In 2014 alone, there were 1.3 million legal immigrants, more than just about any other nation.
However, given support for Sharia law in certain nations, we must not automatically assume that all Muslim immigrants can be easily absorbed. We must not let our heart overwhelm our common sense. Reasonable screening, not a ban, is a necessity for our safety.
Historically, we are far from perfect. America has had discriminatory policies that have been applied to keep out “undesirables” as defined by the times. These groups have included ethnicities such as Greeks, Asians and Jews (and Cubans, Dr. Faria), who are now accepted and doing well financially.
We must make sure we do not discriminate again, while insuring that we stay safe. The key is objectivity and balance, something that Faria loses track of in his rant.
Jack Bernard is the past chair of the Jasper County Republican Party and county commission. He is a retired senior vice president with a national corporation. His father and all four grandparents were immigrants.