An Act of Reparation for My Mean Mean Unfairness

An Act of Reparation for My Mean Mean Unfairness November 18, 2015

I so often hear the complaint that my criticism of the anti-abortion-but-not-prolife Right unfairly focuses on the crazy inhumanity of the radical fringe and does not acknowledge the good mainstream people in the haunted ruins of what was once conservatism. So let me take a moment to applaud the radical fringe–represented by the good governor of Utah–who have not listened to the absolutely mainstream views of Movement Conservatism. Unlike the overwhelming majority of the Right, he has chosen to do the obviously right thing and not spit in the faces of refugees and cower at the threat posed by five year old orphans.

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  • Pete the Greek

    There is a way to make EVERYONE happy.

    Offer to trade Syrian refugees, 1 for 1, with the entitled little brats who are screaming about how racist our colleges are. It’s brilliant: we help desperate people improve their lot by coming here, and we get rid of the dregs of generation narcissus at the same time by kicking them out to Syria so they can experience what REAL oppression is like. I think it’s a Win-Win for the US.

    ON EDIT: In case anyone is in the dark about what I’m talking about, I’m referring to these people who have been throwing up a stink lately:

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      You, sir, are a genius.

    • Joseph

      For all of the sanctimonious internet social warriors calling everyone else who lives far, far away from their homogeneous white middle-class neighborhoods racists for not taking in refugees, we could also put a plan in place that all refugees get placed in their comfy white neighborhoods. That way the US can take even more. God knows you have enough of those internet warriors sucking down their Frappicinos and leaving pretzel crumbs in their keyboard while judging everyone else… you’d be able to house the entire world’s refugees… even the Christian ones!

      • Dave G.

        That’s why I’m reluctant to condemn those who question the refugee policies, even if Comedy Central insists it’s a slam dunk. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be on the front lines, so it’s too easy to have opinions that I won’t have to answer for.

      • Mike


  • Ken

    I read an article on line from a former prisoner of ISIS. The person said that ISIS’s main narrative is to create a world where Muslims are discriminated against and hated by the world. This helps them in their recruitment. The person also said that they were extremely upset by countries that were welcoming refugees because that was the opposite of the narrative they are trying to create. Congrats to the Republicans for pushing the ISIS media blitz!

    • Warren

      I’m pretty sure the thirteen governors are pushing the exact same story; the only difference is who they think will be left standing at the end.

  • wlinden
    I guess she is not a “mainstream” Republican either.

  • LFM

    Sigh. This is a perfect example of the kind of thing Mr Shea says that makes those of us with somewhat – but not necessarily altogether – different opinions find him unfair in his argumentative tactics.
    1) It would be easy for a cartoonist to draw a cartoon in which a dead child lay at the feet of a group of Democratic governors, a bomb having gone off, captioned “It’s not OUR fault!”
    2) In the case of the notorious picture that so horrified everyone, the child and his family had not been refused asylum. They had been given asylum in Turkey but had chosen to go on to Greece to attempt to get into Europe. The boat was capsized by bad weather and the child drowned. This was a terrible thing, but to link the incident, by implication, to those who are cautious about accepting asylum-seekers is dishonest. Full stop.
    3) I am pro-life, not anti-abortion. I do not believe in capital punishment (though I do not believe that those who support it are evil). I support government-funded health insurance. I still do not think that granting mass asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugee seekers is a good idea. There are many millions of people, of Catholics, like me, especially outside the United States.

    I expect I bore you all in harping on these things. I even bore myself, to misquote the Cowardly Lion. But because I think this site is both worth reading (especially on other matters) and influential, I believe it is important to keep emphasizing that, depending on one’s motives and understanding, it is quite possible to be a good Catholic and to question some of the immigration schemes being proposed and/or implemented now.

    p.s. For what it’s worth, I often prefer the company of Muslims (where I live, they are usually well-educated and well-traveled) to that of non-Muslim North Americans, who tend to be somewhat provincial in their outlook on the world.

    p.p.s. Update: I just checked the Guardian story I was using for the basic details again. Apparently, the family’s ultimate goal was to get to Canada.

  • Elmwood

    (Frankfurter Allgemeine) A senior Church leader of Syrian Christians holds the German asylum offer responsible for the fact that so many people are leaving his country. By so doing, he reveals himself as a supporter of the Assad regime.

    Syrian Patriarch Gregorios III Laham has expressed reservations about Germany’s great receptivity. He was “glad about the reception, but sad about the invitation,” the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church said on Wednesday in Frankfurt. The willingness of the Federal Government to grant protection to war refugees from Syria was “understood there to mean that Germany wanted to have a certain number of people.”

    Certainly fear is a motive for flight, but this fear was deliberately exacerbated by “Islamic State,” said the clergyman. Other reasons for the exodus from Syria were “hope for a better life and a better future” as well as desire for “adventure,” said Gregorios III. He likened the exodus to an “epidemic.” The patriarch, who resides in Damascus, was visiting Frankfurt on the occasion of the consecration of the Byzantine chapel at the Jesuit College of St. George.

    so basically the west is to blame but what does the Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church know, I put my faith in western elites.

  • Elmwood

    Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan has lashed out at Western countries for policies that, he says, have caused an “endless conflict in Syria.”

    “To say that the solution is to carry out air strikes is a lie,” said the Syrian prelate, in an interview with the Egyptian magazine Le Messager. He said that local Christian leaders warned that the Assad regime could not be easily deposed, but Western political leaders ignored those warnings, and their “foolish politics” have led to years of bloodshed.

    “We Christians are not able to live in this chaos,” the Syrian Patriarch said. “The West has betrayed us.”

    The Patriarch said that terrorist groups—with financing supplied from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region—have thoroughly infiltrated Syria and Iraq, leading to the rise of the Islamic State. Now, he warned, terrorists have moved into Europe, posing as refugees, and will strike there.

    Again, what does this Syrian Catholic Patriarch know, we need to let all mooslims into the u.s., no questions asked.

    • LFM

      Unfortunately, the argument that Western policies have caused an “endless conflict in Syria” – although I certainly cannot disagree with it – is one that is used by pro-asylum groups to argue in favour of accepting more refugees.

    • Mike Blackadder

      Except the scheme for admitting refugees in the US and Canada is not a ‘no questions asked’ scenario. Candidates are thoroughly vetted and are chosen specifically for their vulnerability. It’s true that Christians and probably other highly vulnerable groups are underrepresented through this scheme because they aren’t safe even in the resettlement camps, but that aside, if we’re talking about a process where legitimate refugees are being identified should we not try to accept them and help? I agree with taking thorough measures to exclude not only militants, but those who take advantage of the refugee situation to jump the immigration queue, but like I said, this is already being done. And the US is only talking about resettling 10,000.

      • LFM

        This is disingenuous. There is intense pressure, as the number of refugee candidates increases, not to vet them as thoroughly. After all, the US refuses to take serious steps to vet illegal immigrants from south of its border at all. and by “serious steps” I mean “steps to prevent them from entering until they’ve been vetted.” Those who handle Middle Eastern refugees are likely to take the same approach after a time.

        As for the vetting process not being a “no questions asked” approach, well, perhaps not. But European authorities have admitted that they often do not have time to ask even elementary questions like “are you in sympathy with the imposition of Sharia law?” and as far as I can tell from what I find online, they are not required to do so.

        As for authorities in Canada, they allowed one immigrant Muslim to refuse to be interviewed by a woman – something that should have automatically disqualified him from entry into Canada. I can’t find the particulars of this story, which I remember from some time back, because it has been superceded by outrage about Muslim women immigrants who object to removing their veils when making their citizenship oaths.

        Do you really think that the pressure, both internal and external, on the US to take in immigrants will stop at 10,000? Do you think that’s the kind of number that refugee supporters there have in mind?

        • Mike Blackadder

          Maybe I’m wrong, but not disingenuous. The situation here is not the same as Europe. The process is very different. It’s a question of whether the vetting process is adequate. But balance the risk against the fact that many vulnerable families will be helped through this process. Yes, it is possible that a Paris-like tragedy could come to America even at the hands of refugees. But are we really that scared of people that we have to hide behind our borders and not let people in who may need help as though we are powerless to stop bad people? I think we’re better than that.

          • Dave G.

            I think we are better than that. Not that everyone in a country of 300 million plus is better. And that’s on either side of the debate. But on the whole, most seem to be saying ‘let’s make sure folks are checked out, perhaps better than we’ve been doing given events that have unfolded, while not wanting to turn away those who need help.’ After all, a Paris like attack would be more than a dozen mass shootings at once. And I’m sure we’re willing to do anything it takes to prevent that.

          • LFM

            “Yes it is possible that a Paris-like tragedy could come…” What the heck? It is not a question of possibility. A Paris-like tragedy HAS come to both the United States and to Canada. The one in Canada was on a smaller scale; the major one in the US on a larger scale. A very revealing remark, in its cluelessness.

            As I have said on this blog before (to derisive boos), my own worry is not really about letting in terrorists along with refugees: it is inevitable that we will do so, given the world situation today. Instead, I worry about the future, and the integration of so many peoples – however good, nice, warmhearted, etc. they may be (and that is not meant to be sarcastic; I *like* Middle Easterners) – whose culture and sense of history are so different from those of the West, and who harbor an implacable animosity towards Jews.

          • AquinasMan

            Well the elephant that won’t go away is the idea of “borders” all together. Why have them? I’ve said it before: what’s the moral difference between a legislative wall and a real wall? Why have immigration law at all? Even if a vetting process for refugees is sufficient, what about all the refugees that get left behind? Is it fair that only some of the oppressed make their way across borders? Wouldn’t it be the moral thing to evacuate populations, if that’s the case, instead of waiting for them to risk their lives escaping or stay behind for the slaughter? These are obviously rhetorical questions.

            We can let everyone in, can’t we? Why don’t we? Which of our own children are we willing to sacrifice for a refugee family? If we’re not prepared to answer that question, we’re merely being hypocrites for pretending the issue is cut and dry “right thing/wrong thing”. Most people are frightened by what they see. Their instinct is to protect. Maybe some are xenophobes, but I would venture to say that most of our friends and neighbors are being instinctive and are simply afraid.

            • Mike Blackadder

              Aquinasman, you’d think this was the first time that anyone had ever thought of helping refugees. Why should we interpret that if we are willing to take in refugees due to an emergency situation and dire need that we may as well just dissolve all borders (and consequently all order)?

              Being unable to help everyone is a very poor excuse for not helping anyone. Though not the first time I’ve heard it used.

              I’m not saying that people are just being nasty. Fear is part of the problem, including fear of importing Islamic culture. And also people feel strongly about what they might see as the injustice of bailing out people who are often anti-American, anti-West, pro-political Islam and even now blame America for their problems. I get why there is an argument. Though I also think the moral imperative is clear.

      • Steve Brown
        • chezami
          • Steve Brown

            So it’s evil for the FBI to go before Congress and lie? How is that apologizing for evil, pray tell?

            • chezami

              No. It’s evil for you to make excuses for cowering before five year olds and banish them as terrorists. Nut up, will you?

          • LFM

            There was not a word of apology for evil in that comment, Mark: he cited a blog which, in turn, cited the actual words of actual US officials on the possibility of vetting the refugees in question, given their numbers and the constraints of time. No doubt the blogger in question has his own ideological commitments. So, too, does the Cato website – speaking of which, this must be the first time I’ve ever heard you refer to a libertarian approvingly. Are you aware that, along with free trade, most libertarians support free movement across borders? So naturally – though truthful enough as far as it goes – a libertarian website will tend to support refugee movements without reserve.

            For a slightly different emphasis, I’ll quote another website, this time that of the UNCHR, which is somewhat less reassuring on the subject:

            The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. On average, about 1 million people seek asylum on an individual basis every year. In mid-2014, there were more than 1.2 million asylum-seekers.

            National asylum systems are there to decide which asylum-seekers actually qualify for international protection. Those judged through proper procedures not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their home countries.

            The efficiency of the asylum system is key. If the asylum system is both fast and fair, then people who know they are not refugees have little incentive to make a claim in the first place, thereby benefitting both the host country and the refugees for whom the system is intended.

            During mass movements of refugees (usually as a result of conflicts or generalized violence as opposed to individual persecution), there is not – and never will be – a capacity to conduct individual asylum interviews for everyone who has crossed the border. Nor is it usually necessary, since in such circumstances it is generally evident why they have fled. As a result, such groups are often declared “prima facie” refugees.

  • Mike Blackadder

    I agree with Mark on this one. This position of denying all Syrian refugees as a rule (because you’re scared some could be terrorists) is despicable precisely because there ARE clear processes in place to identify refugees who have the greatest need.

    I think that some of this international aid should be doing a better job of addressing the needs of minority groups (like Christians) who are excluded by the refugee resettlement process, and on that level I partly agree with Cruz that this would be an appropriate role for countries like the US.

    However if the objective is to also rescue minority religions from Syria and Iraq then why quibble about 10,000 when you could be settling at least 50,000 Muslims and a similar number of non Muslims?

    • LFM

      Ah, yes. Rescuing refugees like the insane Palestinian cab driver I encountered last summer, who cheerfully bellowed at me about how wonderful it was to live in Jerusalem, where all the Christians and Muslims were united by their common hatred of Jews. (Advice to travelers: if you ever get into a cab in Ottawa, Ontario, do not under any circumstances admit to being Jewish or to sympathizing with any aspect of Jewish circumstances. And it really is Jewishness, not merely being Israeli or an Israeli sympathizer, that is the problem.)

  • rivers

    What’s wrong with being simply anti-abortion, that is, recognizing that abortion is a violent, evil solution that solves nothing and only adds to the evil already taking place?

    Someone who is anti-abortion and not pro-life: I don’t know who this blogger is talking about, but if such people actually exist, well I think Mr. Shea might pause and think for a moment that at least that person is headed in the right direction on their journey home. Grace from God will get him home, not peevish castigations and damning proclamations from some stranger.

    Step four, Mark Shea, check it out. Just saying.

    • chezami

      There’s nothing wrong with being anti-abortion. There is plenty wrong with spending your *real* energy opposing the teaching of the Church and then hiding behind the unborn as human shields.

    • tt

      Let me introduce you to Nebraska’s Catholic governor, Pete Ricketts who proclaims that his Catholic faith informs his policy when talking about abortion then dedicates himself to pursuing the death penalty so deeply that he has engaged in illegal activity and donated thousands of dollars from his own pocket in attempt to keep it legal in the state. He then explains that the USCCB’s statements against the death penalty do not matter to him because his faith should not determine his public policy. Not sure how anyone could legitimately call the man pro-life.

      • LFM

        No one I know would be much inclined to call this man pro-life, but then he’s a politician. Above a certain level, they aren’t like normal people. But consider the imaginary case of a pro-life activist who had worked hard and at some real personal cost to help protect unborn babies and their mothers, but who, for example, supported the death penalty because of her horror at the monstrosity of some murderers. (I think most people would agree that to kill someone in a barroom brawl is different from the torture-murder of multiple victims.) She might even be only vaguely aware that the Church did not support the death penalty except when it was the only option.

        I don’t support the death penalty, but would not be inclined to bellow that such a person could not possibly be sincerely pro-life.

  • Steve Brown

    Dear Mark, Why would you use such an outrageous political cartoon that uses the image of that poor child, which turns out to have been staged.
    and here is the father’s sister explaining why her brother did not take advantage of the offer to get to Canada when he had the opportunity:

    Someone please show me that this isn’t bogus.

    • LFM

      It sounds at first glance real enough. I don’t find it as unsympathetic as you do, either (or the headliner on the video). Bad teeth are a real enough martyrdom, by all accounts. But why did the man and his family not wait patiently in Turkey until he could arrange a flight out, rather than making a dangerous journey by dinghy to Greece? Or did I miss something in the video?

  • johnnysc

    I don’t think your unfair. I just think you are wrong. The derisive name calling is kind of silly but it seems to be the norm these days in disagreements.

  • Mike

    Mark this is just really absurd. no one said that ppl shouldn’t be allowed in in fact ppl ARE saying let’s take the most destitute first the christians the women and children and their fathers and only then after security take the young men.

    Is pope francis opening the doors of the vatican to say 100 young men? no. why? bc he understands that that would be bad for everyone.

    oh there’s also that thing in Paris where 130 young ppl were butchered by ppl who were able to move in and out of areas in Paris that are sympathetic to islamists. which you know might make ppl think twice about establishing the same kind of ghettos here.

    And then there’s saudia arabia which is swimming in money and land and shares a culture a religion and an ethnicity with these ppl but is doing nothing.

  • Steve

    *sigh* I hestitate to even bother commenting on this, because the conversation is so polarized. I think Mark is right that there is tremendous ignorance of what policies and safeguards are already in place. And I think that politicians have become absolutely EXPERT at trying to capitalize on our fears. On the other hand, there is of course a place for sound procedures, and healthy caution.

    What baffles me is why no one seems to mention that there are no doubt radicalized FRENCH (or Belgian or …) citizens who would have a much easier time coming to the US on a tourist visa. Should we be talking about profiling instead? Are we willing to count on enough intelligence cooperation to know that dangerous people will be flagged at the airport? What is the answer to that? It seems to me a far more likely possibility. Follow some of the stories of the suburban ghettoes of Paris and other French cities. I don’t think it’s the refugees we should be (as) worried about.

  • George

    I’ve seen news reports that claim that many refugees, possibly the majority, are not fleeing for their lives but seeking better economic opportunity. Groups of men traveling to Germany who have left their families behind for example. Is this true?Perhaps we should consider accepting only women and young children since we know that there is no way to thoroughly vet 10’s of thousands of refugees.

    I might have some degree of confidence in our security measures if I wasn’t keenly aware that our president is all too ready to instruct his agencies to ignore any laws or policies he finds inconvenient. If he decides the vetting process is taking too long and not enough refugees are coming in quickly enough; does anyone doubt the processes will suddenly be magically streamlined?

    • Sarah

      They are, because their families are stuck in underfunded refugee camps in lebenon, jordan, turkey, ect…the land borders have been largely shut down, so many chose the dangerous sea route that they don’t want to subject their families to. They are looking for work so that their families lives aren’t in left limbo in the camps. Many social works in the various countries say that the men immediately file to bring their families as soon as they find work to support them.

      • George

        That was my next question. If the European economy generally is so bad are thousands of refugees actually finding employment? Can’t see how that job market can absorb so many so quickly.

  • Sue Korlan

    The Indiana Catholic Conference sent me an email on the vetting process for refugees. It sounds very thorough. And someone in the South Bend Tribune letters to the editor today suggested that the Syrian passport found near the terrorists was probably left there by the terrorists in order to dissuade the West from accepting refugees. The letter pointed out how well planned out and carried out the attack was. I suspect that the letter writer is correct and the owner of the passport may not have had anything to do with the attack.