On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders resoundingly slammed the chorus of Islamophobic Republican governors who have refused to allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their states and reaffirmed his stalwart support for the refugees fleeing terror across the globe, chastising them for their knee-jerk warnings about the threats of terrorism that barely disguise their prejudice against Muslims.
“During these difficult times, as Americans, we will not succumb to racism, we will not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia. And when hundreds of thousands of people have lost everything, have nothing left but the shirts on their backs, we will not turn our backs on the refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.”
He had particularly harsh words for the right wing’s religious adherence to the reckless neoconservative foreign policy forged by Bush/Cheney administration, which colossally overreacted to the attacks of 9/11 so badly that their war games drained our nation’s coffers and lead to the “massive instability in the region, chaos which allowed the rise of ISIS” and prompted the refugee crisis in the first place.
“Back in 2002, we had a president, President [George W.] Bush… We had a president and he was very very tough but not very smart. I say to my Republican colleagues, yeah we’ve got to be tough, but not stupid. Yes, we need to create a worldwide coalition that will defeat isis. But no, the United States of America must not be involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. There are those, including many Republicans, some in the media, who think that because of this horrific attack, the only thing we should focus on is defeating ISIS. Yes, we will lead the world in defeating ISIS, but at the same time, we will rebuild the disappearing middle class of this country. We are a great nation and we can accomplish both goals.”
The Republican Party’s approach to foreign policy is fundamentally flawed, obsessed with displaying raw strength and bullying our way across the world. Terrified of showing weakness, they regard any defiance to the power of American empire as a dangerous heresy, one to be stamped out in a purifying crusade of exceptionalism. There is no consideration of the instability they leave in their wake or the alienation they inspire. The key to solving the refugee crisis and the threat of Islamic terrorism requires addressing the roots of the problem, which will require addressing a myriad of issues beginning with peace and elections but also includes climate change and poverty. Wading into a costly and bloody ground war in Syria, like Sen. Lindsey Graham has already demanded, is the last thing our nation and the world needs.