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Gov. Snyder's decision on Syrian refugees plays into what ISIS wants

Nov 16, 2015

Governor Rick Snyder bowed to pressure yesterday and made a decision that was politically easy.

He reversed his earlier courageous stand and announced that Syrian refugees are no longer welcome in Michigan.

Here's what he said:

"Our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents. Given the terrible situation in Paris, I’ve directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of its security clearances and procedures.”

What the governor did was exactly what ISIS would want.

Of course, it is doubtful if the leadership of that perverted organization is even aware of an obscure lame-duck governor somewhere in the American Midwest.

But if they knew what he did, they’d be happy about it.

Whether you call them ISIS, or ISIL, or "Daesh," these extremists want the world separated into two halves, Muslims and everyone else.

They hate anything that works for peaceful coexistence and assimilation.

What our governor did reinforced the view that all Muslims are the "other" ...

What our governor did reinforced the view that all Muslims are the “other” -- not to be trusted -- possibly infiltrating murderers -- cruel-eyed men with Kalashnikov rifles who we know nothing about.

That’s the line being spouted by demagogues like State Representative Gary Glenn, R-Midland, who called for slamming the door in the face of “the high-risk importation of individuals from a known hotbed of Islamic extremism.”

But the truth is very different, as Sean de Four, vice president of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press yesterday -- two-thirds are women and children.

In fact, as de Four said “the state department already uses an overabundance of caution in its screening of refugees,” before we let them in.

They spend an average of five to seven years in refugee camps, undergoing extensive background checks, before we ever let them in.

De Four called the governor’s decision “really unfortunate.”

Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Ben Rhodes emphasized that the United States already has a very careful screening process for refugees.

The United States government is taking a much more sophisticated view.

Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Ben Rhodes emphasized that the United States already has a very careful screening process for refugees. He said President Obama is determined to continue to do what is right.

And Rhodes reminded us “we’re also dealing with people who have suffered the horrors of war, women and children and orphans.”

The security advisor agreed we need to work hard to keep terrorists out of this country, but he reminded us that we also need to remember what makes us Americans.

“We can’t just shut our doors to these people. I think we do need to do our part to take those refugees who are in need,” he said.

Sadly, shutting the door is just what Governor Snyder has done.

Not because of anything that happened anywhere in this country, but because some of the terrorists who struck in Paris may possibly have been Syrian refugees.

Politicians often begin cowardly decisions by claiming they are doing exactly the opposite. In announcing he was closing the door to Syrians, Snyder proclaimed that “Michigan is a welcoming state,” so far as immigrants are concerned.

Then he made it clear that he doesn’t intend us to be quite so welcoming any more, and what I know is that we will all be the poorer for it.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.