One of the main areas of contention between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan is the question of Muslim immigration. In early December, when Trump first made his proposal (now a “suggestion”) to stop all such immigration until we “understood what was going on,” one of the first to react in high dudgeon was Ryan, who declared: “This is not conservatism.”
He was applauded for his four-word pronouncement by those “conservatives” at the Washington Post, who called his response “near-perfect.” Actually, to me it seemed morally narcissistic and had little to with conservatism, pro or con. Ryan wanted to disassociate himself as quickly as possible from the ugly and seemingly racist Trump.
But let’s look more closely at what the speaker said during that response:
When we voted to pause the refugee program a few weeks ago, I made very clear at the time: there would not be a religious test. There would be a security test. And that is because freedom of religion is a fundamental Constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country.
Aside from the obvious — if people are fighting and killing you in the name of a religion, how do you ignore the “religious test” — what about that “security test”? Is it really happening or are people slipping into the country by various means, including an open border, with no test whatsoever? What about reports of an ISIS camp eight miles from El Paso?
And, perhaps more importantly, did that “pause” Ryan voted for actually take place in any meaningful way? According to the New York Post a “surge operation” bringing Syrian refugees to America was already in operation this past April. By “surge operation,” Gina Kassem — regional refugee coordinator in Amman — told reporters, it was meant the resettlement process that normally took 18 to 24 months would be sped up to 3 months. (Some pause!) And the figure of 10,000 refugees that has often been proffered by the administration was a minimum, not a maximum.
What is the maximum and how will they be vetted? And just how do you “vet” during a “surge”? Is that what Ryan really meant by a “security test”? I doubt it, but Trump should ask him at their next reconciliation meeting. As they say, Paul’s got some “xplainin” to do.
Now this isn’t a simple question. The Syrian people have suffered mightily at the hands of various psychotic despots, secular and religious. Trump has called for supporting more extensive refugee camps in the region, an idea that makes more sense than bringing them here. (He has also called for the Gulf states to pay for them — good luck with that.)
The main point is that this is a significant campaign issue and intelligent solutions have to be discussed. Trump has put Rudy Giuliani in charge of studying this from his side, an excellent choice.
There may be a short-term fix, but there won’t be a short-term answer. This is a very long-term problem, the longest one we have, dwarfing the deficit and everything else — civilizational, really. Will we be America or will we go the way of Europe and turn semi-Islamic like France in Houellebecq’s novel?
It wouldn’t be hard. We have been living under an administration that has been an enabler of Islamism. Obama has chosen to ally himself with Islamists like Turkey’s Erdogan, Egypt’s Morsi and, most stunningly, Iran’s Khamenei, while abjuring Egypt’s al-Sisi, who seeks to reform Islam. Go figure.
On top of all that — it’s hard to believe this — there are reports our administration was colluding with Russia in an attempt to get Israel to give back the Golan Heights to Syria in some putative peace settlement. Syria? Needless to say, Mr. Netanyahu was not amused.
In any case, on the immediate question of Muslim immigration, Trump may have sounded excessive and even been excessive. That’s his technique — he likes to get our attention, then negotiate. But in this particular negotiation (not, for example, on entitlements) the basic talking points — and the American people — are on Donald’s side. Ryan should listen.
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books on June 14, 2016.