Islamophobic America Might Want To Rethink Their ‘Home Of The Brave’ Marketing Pitch


The fear and loathing has reached DEFCON Level 1. There must be an election in the wind, surmises Mathew Kenneally.

It’s November in the United States. The annual festivities include Halloween, and, for the second year running, an extended Halloween political-scare-athon.

Last year it was ebola, this year 10,000 Syrian refugees.

You could be forgiven for forgetting the 2014 United States ebola epidemic. It started in October 2014. Republicans identified many causes of the crisis: Obama’s incompetence; Obama’s love for Africans over Americans; and political correctness.

The solution was simple: stop flights from Africa. Mike Huckabee told voters the health experts who said this would worsen the crisis were not to be trusted. Congressman Duncan Hunter expressed concern that terrorists with ebola could cross the Mexican border. Because that’s what you need when you have a deadly virus – a 50-degree trek across the desert. Sweat it out.

The epidemic, remarkably, ended on November 5th, a day after the midterms.

The cost of this epidemic in America: four cases, one death. Although we may never no how many Americans died, after panicking and locking themselves in their survival bunker without adequate oxygen or beans.

This year we have an epidemic of refugees amidst Presidential primaries.

31 Republican Governors and one Democratic have declared Syrian refugees are not welcome in their states.

Donald Trump has left all options on the table: Syrian refugee databases, and Mosque surveillance.

Donald Trump
Republican US presidential hopeful Donald Trump. (IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

Presidential candidates Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio have demanded the US cease accepting Syrian refugees. The justification? The FBI cannot guarantee that every Syrian is not, has not, or will never turn to terrorism. In Republican world, it’s a revelation the FBI is unable to read minds or tell the future.

Chris Christie said he would not even accept a 5-year-old Syrian orphan. Makes sense. If we cannot screen adults for terrorist tendencies, how can we possibly discern the intentions of children who lack the capacity for abstract thought?

Mike Huckabee compared taking 10,000 Syrian refugees to feeding your children a five-pound packet of peanuts when you know two are poisoned. A better analogy might be, would you feed your children bacon for breakfast every day even though the WHO says it heightens the risk of cancer? The answer is yes, we cannot surrender to vegans.

Jeb Bush, a moderate on immigration, suggested the US only accept Syrian refugees. This is a moderate response: religious sectarianism, a position that would not be out of place in the Spanish inquisition or Australian policy. I think the US should only take Christians we know will fit in, Puritans. Syrians should be screened to prove they believe in pre-destination, oppose the Church of England, and have no history of witchcraft.

Not a single Republican candidate has shown moral leadership, or at the very least some sanity. Xenophobia and paranoia is the new party line. The candidates make George W Bush sound like a bleeding heart. This is Donald Trump’s Republican party.

Brother of former US president and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr.
Brother of former US president and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. IMAGE: Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

This scare campaign, like the ebola epidemic, has generated earnest responses to this madness in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Obama described the rhetoric as shameful. Hillary Clinton is luxuriating on the high ground. Apt comparisons have been made to the US refusal to accept Jewish refugees before World War II.

Such responses are necessary, but feel pointless. Syrian refugees pose a negligible security risk; it is not a matter about which reasonable people can disagree.

Yes, one Paris attacker was found with a fake Syrian passport. It may yet be revealed he was a refugee. Nevertheless, we know that 81 per cent of US terror suspects are US citizens. Out of 3 million refugees admitted to the US since 1975 a dozen have been arrested and deported for security concerns. Only three of 859,629 asylum seekers granted entry to the US since 2001 have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks. That is a 0.0003 per cent risk. You’ve got less chance of being harmed by a Syrian refugee than being harmed by well… pretty much everything in the world.

Unfortunately, folks with these fears do not engage with “mainstream media”. The key thought leaders include Fox, Facebook, and “the Trump”.

The message to voters from Republicans on ebola and Syrians was the same: your irrational fears are perfectly rational. The Government should take extreme action to make you “feel safer”. You should not accept any risk, real or not.

The Republicans claim they are showing the voters “respect”. I would have thought if you respected Americans you might have faith in their ability to, armed with basic literacy and a cell phone, look up the inherently reassuring facts.

Only Republicans can calm this stupidity. Unfortunately that’s not an option. Paranoia in Fall is now a national conservative tradition and opting out is not possible for a serious politician.

That would “disrespect” the American people.

Mathew Kenneally is a stand up comedian who moonlights as a lawyer. He's a regular new Matilda columnist and is the co-author with Toby Halligan of the satirical blog Diary Leaks. He is also the co-founder of the topical comedy room Political Asylum.