I’m one of those “clicktivists,” I guess. I sign petitions and send emails in response to most pleas for causes I consider worthy, on the calculation that it won’t hurt and might even help just a tiny bit. I recently sent Arkansas Governnor Asa Hutchinson an email asking him to do everything in his power to aid refugees and protect Middle Eastern residents from Trump’s Executive Order attacking immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Hutchinson (or rather a member of his Constituent Services staff, Mariano Reed) responded, predictably, with a mealy-mouthed preformatted statement that was really no statement at all. “[P]leased and grateful for the compassion and outpouring of support from Arkansans for the well-being of Refugees,” yada yada, “encouraging and refreshing that Arkansans have such a strong desire to help our fellow man in times of distress,” yada, “[w]hile the vast majority of refugees who come to America are truly fleeing danger in their home country, anyone coming into the United States as a refugee should be properly vetted to protect our security,” yada yada yada, “particularly sensitive to matters of security, especially those related to international terrorism,” yada, “balance the compassion of this great country with the security concerns in this post 9-11 environment.”
In other words, precisely nothing. Reminds me of the politician in some science fiction story or other whose statement of policy, when translated into symbolic logic with all the contrary elements cancelling each other out, was a complete nullity as a statement of intent. If H.L. Mencken were around these days he’d probably find Hutchinson’s language more worthy of mockery than Harding’s.
And his rhetorical balancing act between humanitarian concern and fear of terrorism is as much a false equivalency as those news shows that show spokesmen for “both sides” on questions like climate change, young earth creationism or flat earth theory. His fears of terrorism by “unvetted” refugees are pure nonsense. There was already, in fact, a great deal of vetting of refugees. And refugees from the seven countries in Trump’s Muslim ban have killed zero — count ’em, zero — Americans in terrorist attacks in the past forty years. Seventeen people from these countries have attempted terrorist attacks in the past forty years — most of which “terrorist attacks” were actually organized by federal law enforcement in entrapment operations and resulted in the arrest of “plotters” whose competence and credibility were virtually nil.
In the meantime, the bulk of domestic terror attacks in recent years have been committed by white fundamentalists with confederate flags. And of course you know who they supported for president. It never even occurs to me, when I see a Middle Eastern immigrant or Muslim, to wonder about their potential for irrational violence. When I see a good ol’ boy with a confederate flag or Trump sticker, on the other hand, the possibility is always in the back of my mind. People of this sort attack Muslims all the time (as well as Sikhs, Hindus and God knows who else, because they’re too dumb to know the difference). Stories of Muslim women being publicly assaulted and their hijabs ripped off, of mosques, synagogues and black churches burned or defaced with swastikas, seem to be becoming an everyday occurrence. And it’s not Muslims doing this stuff.
I’m not worried at all about “security” in regard to Syria refugees. Nobody is, except for gullible idiots taken in by right-wing propaganda by power-hungry policians eager to expand state power.
What I am worried about — very much so — is this attempted expansion of the police state. We have a president disrupting the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world, threatening to send federal troops to Chicago, making noises about large-scale federal voter suppression to stop non-existent “fraud,” empowering law enforcement to engage in warrantless searches on “suspicion” within 100 miles of the border, and providing political cover for local police to engage in brutality and murder with impunity. And all the while he has the fascist former editor of an alt-right, white supremacist website whispering in his ear.
States use fake “threats” of all kinds to scare us into giving them power — power which they use to threaten us for real.