C.S. Lewis’ Gardener and the Straw Man Anti-Refugee Argument

C.S. Lewis’ Gardener and the Straw Man Anti-Refugee Argument November 20, 2015

C.S. Lewis’ wonderful character Puddleglum–a marshwiggle who took a very gloomy view of life but who always did the right thing even though he was certain it would all end in ruin (and never did)–was based on his gardener.  The man absolutely delighted Lewis with his relentlessly morbid prophecies of doom, all of which were always wrong.

When Lewis was leaving for his honeymoon in Greece after marrying Joy Davidman, the gardener waved them to a stop before the car left the driveway. Lewis rolled down the window and the gardener stuck his head in and said something to the effect of “You and the new missus are flying to Greece for your honeymoon, eh?  Did you hear about the plane crash yesterday?  Everyone on board was burnt beyond recognition!  Think of that: BURNT BEYOND RECOGNITION!”  The car drove off with Joy appalled and Lewis reduced to tears of laughter.

I think of Lewis’ gardener as I hear, times without number, the perfectly meaningless argument “What are we supposed to do?  Just let every refugee in without any screening?  Just hand ’em all guns and grenades?”  Coupled with this are the fevered news reports that somebody has been stopped at such and so border with fake ID or somebody was detained thus and so airport or this boatload people fished out of the Aegean had men in it and why were there so few women and children?

Here, yet again, is reality:  Nobody, absolutely nobody except advocates of the Slammed Door Policy is suggesting for one second “Just let every refugee in without any screening”.  Nobody.  Is that clear?  Nobody.  So why on earth do people keep saying this?

“Well I read somewhere that there is no mechanism in place to screen immigrants.”

Please set your mind at ease.  There is, in fact, a very elaborate and time-consuming mechanism, discussed here by that noted leftwing communist think tank, the Cato Institute.

Then, once  your fears are allayed, take a moment to remember the wisdom of Frank Herbert: “Fear is the mind killer.” Remember how afraid you were because somebody lied to you that there is nothing in place to filter out terrorists who want to kill you.  Remember how that fear kept you from reflecting on the fact that, if there was really nothing in place to stop terrorists from getting into the US, why are you hearing those stories about terrorists being detain and arrested?  Come to think of it, why have none of the 750,000 refugees who have come here since 9/11 tried to kill anybody?  And if Muslims are all sleeper agents waiting to kill you, and the US Muslim population is 6.2 million, why are there not 6.2 million acts of Islamic terror on our soil but a figure closer to, oh, you know, 1 (in Boston)?

Does that mean there will never be another act of murder for Allah here in the US?  Off course not.  But given that you are 55 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a refugee and given that, by 12/31/15 another annual harvest of 33,000 Americans will (not might) be dead at the hands of Americans with guns–a figure terrorists can only dream of–it might be a good idea to detach from our Inner Puddleglum and treat with reality again.

The Door Slammers keep invoking “prudence”.  It is not prudence to cower in fear of five year old orphans.  It is not prudent to cling to the lie that “one of the Paris killers was a refugee”.  It is not prudent to imagine that well-financed Daesh is going to float murderers across the Mediterranean when they can just fake a passport and buy a plane ticket.  It is not prudent to blame the victims of Daesh. It is not prudent to listen to people who invoke the internment of innocent Japanese as a glorious precedent to this shameful moment in our history.  It is prudent to listen to Holy Church and say no to irrational fear.

Then, resolve that there will not be a next time that you are stampeded by fear.  Resolve that, given their so many massively imprudent judgments in the past, you will not listen to those who invoke “prudential judgement” in order to defy the Church until they demonstrate the slightest speck of prudence.

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