Civil War on the Left, Part 23

Right now President Obama and the usual liberal hive are agitating mightily against the supposed racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia of Republicans (and at least one Democratic governor) who are opposed to accepting more Syrian refugees. But a few liberals are breaking from the party line, starting with Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Liberals Should Knock Off the Mockery Over Calls to Limit Syrian Refugees

Here’s the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. We know that ISIS would like to attack the US. We know that ISIS probably has the wherewithal to infiltrate a few of its people into the flood of refugees. And most voters have no idea how easy it is to get past US screening. They probably figure it’s pretty easy.

So to them it doesn’t seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris.

Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?

The liberal response to this should be far more measured.

Another important defector from the liberal line is New York Senator Charles Schumer. The American Interest notes that Schumer said yesterday that a “pause” in Syrian refugee resettlement might be in order:

Schumer tweet copy

Why would Schumer sound this note of caution? Probably because he desperately wants to be the Democratic Senate majority leader after the next election, and being politically shrewd he knows that this issue might well prevent Democrats from picking up seats. Schumer was first elected to Congress in 1980, and likely recalls that resettlement that year of Cuban refugees from Castro’s Mariel boatlift—wherein Castro unloaded a large part of his criminal population onto the U.S.—in Arkansas contributed to the defeat of first-term governor Bill Clinton.

Pass the popcorn.