A trusted friend and colleague referred me to the article discussed below, suggesting it was particularly worthy of refutation. See "President Trump's immigration order tests the nation's principles," Boston Globe (Jan. 30, 2017). Although I was tempted to dismiss it as but another screed from the left attacking the President's recent executive orders on immigration – discussed here before in a preceding post – the fallacies in the piece were so blatant and wrong-headed that SR could not let it pass silently. That the arguments were made by a former Admiral made the piece even more unsettling. The article's author, James Stavridis, is currently Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and was reportedly considered as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton.
When an article on the grimly serious issue of keeping alien terrorists out of the country begins with a slobbering reference to a maudlin Barbra Streisand movie, as this one does, one is instantly placed on alert that melodramatic superficiality is likely to follow. And when the cinematic quote purporting to impress the reader with its piercing insight is "People are their principles," any doubt on that score is quickly removed. What does such quixotic navel-gazing have to do with the harsh business of securing our borders against alien terrorist infiltration?
Stavridis continues his lecture by generously condescending to "giv[e] the benefit of the doubt to President Trump" and "hoping" that Mr. Trump's "intentions are to keep us safe." When a failed vice-presidential prospect for a failed presidential candidate presumes to pass supercilious judgment on the most basic bona fides of the newly elected President, it is quickly apparent that the author is confused about just who is the new Commander-in-Chief – and why.
Stavridis then proceeds to criticize the President's recent executive orders on immigration and refugees with a level of incomprehension and illogic that would be amusing were the subject not so serious.
Some of the "creative thinkers" and budding capitalists the left would import in droves
Perhaps the most patently ill-informed of many such contentions in the piece is this: "I do not understand the arbitrary selection of some Muslim-majority nations but not others to face the consequences of this executive order, nor the rationale for a 90-day or 120-day time period."
Had Stavridis (or his assistant) taken 60 seconds for rudimentary internet research, he would know that the seven countries in question – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – had been previously singled out by the Obama administration as "countries of concern" (re: terrorism) and subjected to various travel restrictions on that basis. Far from being "arbitrary," the selection of those seven countries was prudent, security-focused, and supported by actions of the previous administration. Had President Trump selected a larger or smaller number of countries, his political and media enemies would undoubtedly have pounced on him for over- or under-inclusiveness. If Stavridis really does not "understand" these basic facts, he is either willfully uninformed or simply duplicitous.
Stavridis' purported inability to "understand" the rationale for the 90-day time period for the suspension is equally disingenuous, or simply fraudulent . Even this limited suspension period has elicited howls of horror and fraudulent indignation from the illegal alien community, the subversive left, and their media echo chamber. Had the President established a substantially longer, or indefinite, period – as he is expressly authorized to do by law, see 8 USC sec. 1182(f), authorizing presidential suspension of entry "for such period as he shall deem necessary" – the congressional baying and gnashing of teeth would have been even more extravagant. In short, the ferocious resistance from enemies of border control has made it politically impossible to impose the more lengthy suspension that events warrant; yet when the President pragmatically adopts a compromise shorter period, carping critics like Stavridis pounce on him for doing so. Heads we win, tails you lose.
Other palpably erroneous or simply insupportable assertions follow. Oblivious to a distinguished succession of Presidents who have banned alien entry on a wide variety of grounds including nationality, Stavridis self-righteously denounces restrictions on immigration from any "particular nation." The Presidents who actually have to protect the country and its borders disagree. As but one example, President Carter terminated immigration from Iran (a Shiite Muslim Islamic state) in 1979, in entirely justifiable reaction to that nation's seizure of American hostages.
Far more importantly, Congress has approved and re-approved the following statute, 18 USC sec. 1182(f), which expressly and broadly authorizes the President to exclude aliens of a particular nationality – or any particular class of aliens, including a class based on religion – in language which in itself conclusively supports the legality of President Trump's suspension orders:
"Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate." 18 USC sec. 1182(f) [emphasis added].
This provision, moreover, firmly negates Stavridis' contention that the President's actions are insupportable because they somehow violate various broad principles of international law respecting acceptance of refugees. Even if one accepts the dubious contention that the President's orders run afoul of such standards, the President's constitutional and statutory authority to protect U.S. security and sovereignty reflected in section 1182 would override such objections.
Stavridis also attacks the suspension orders on the purported grounds that they improperly discriminate on the basis of religion, asserting as follows: "I am deeply disturbed by the general tone and thrust of the executive orders that, at least on initial read, seem to ban significant classes of people because of their religion, or prioritize one religion over another." This assertion is so shot through with fallacy that one hardly knows where to begin. But we will try.
Stavridis first resorts to the dissembler's classic fall back qualifier, "at least on initial read." The EO, which is not a lengthy document, was issued on January 27 and Stavridis' article is dated January 30. He had ample time for a second, third, or fourth "read" if he intended to offer responsible commentary on the order. He apparently was content to plow ahead with his article without carefully reading the readily available order. But no matter how many times he read it, Stavridis would not find any language employing religion as a basis for the exclusion; rather, it was based on the nations "of concern" previously identified by the Obama administration.
In short, Stavridis falsely and irresponsibly attacked the orders for discriminating on the basis of religion. They did not and do not. Stavridis should know, for example, that Indonesia has far and away the world's largest Muslim population (with over 200 million Muslims), yet the suspension order does not apply to Indonesia. Or to Pakistan, with its many millions of Muslims. In any event, however, both the above-quoted 18 USC 1182(f) and the Constitution would permit exclusion of a class based on religion if it otherwise met the statutory criteria. But President Trump declined to resort to that available option.
But Stavridis' objection to the immigration orders because they "prioritize one religion over another" is probably the most egregious, and unconsciously ironic, of all his bogus contentions.
Perhaps Stavridis has forgotten, or never cared to learn, that the Obama administration's perversely pro-Islamic immigration and refugee policies have discriminated grossly and demonstrably against Christians. Christians fleeing religious persecution reportedly make up about 16-23% of the refugees, but only 2.5% of those being allowed to come into the United States. More particularly, only some 0.46% of over 11,000 Syrian refugees admitted by the Obama regime were Christians, while over 98% were Sunni Muslims.
So one is forced to ask: where was Stavridis' touching concern for religious discrimination in immigration when it was perpetrated against Christians by the Obama administration? Nowhere in sight, apparently. It is therefore evident that his professed concern that the orders "prioritize[ed] one religion over another" is bogus. In fact, however, the U.S. would be quite justified in granting priority to Christian refugees as a remedial measure to rectify the systemic discrimination and disparate impact its immigration and refugee policies have had on oppressed Christian refugees.
Stavridis plods on to offer the following extraordinary statement, apparently intended to strengthen his case that the new President should let in legions more, not less, Islamic refugees: "Do we really want to be the nation that watches Germany (with one fourth of our population) take in more than a million refugees, in accordance with international law, while we say no and close our borders to those in need?"
One can only wonder if the author is really serious in making this outlandish argument, or is he utterly delusional? Germany's disastrous admission of over a million refugees has virtually destroyed much of the German culture, let alone the safety and security of its cities. Who can forget the grotesque and shocking spectacle of the New Years Eve riots of rape and pillage in Cologne last year? Even the hapless Angela Merkel has been forced to admit that, "In part, the refugee flow was even used to smuggle terrorists." Yet Stavridis argues that the United States should somehow be shamed into emulating Germany's disdastrous refugee policy. Indeed, he implies that it would be fitting if we took in four million refugees, since, as he pointedly stresses, our population is four times larger than Germany's. In short, the author's reasoning leads to consequences that prove its fallacy.
Lastly, Stavridis makes the risible argument that the U.S. will greatly benefit from admitting hordes of additional Mid-East refugees because "the vast majority are risk-taking, determined, creative thinkers who will over time gives us a high return on investment." This is out-and-out nonsense. Stavridis cites no evidence for his absurd claim, nor could he, because it is wildly false. How or where he has discovered all these "creative thinkers" and budding capitalists among the belligerent refugee vagabonds remains a mystery to the rest of us. There is simply no basis in fact for this delusional but dangerous fantasy. On the contrary, about 90% of Mid-east refugees entering the U.S. go on food stamps, and nearly 70% receive government cash assistance (i.e., welfare). As the hapless Europeans have learned to their great cost , the great majority of the migrating Mid-Eastern refugees are fighting-age males with little prospect for productive employment.
But enough. Stavridis' assault on the President's admirable first-step in restoring our shredded borders is long on delusional canards and short on hard realities. The hard reality is that accepting his invitation to follow Germany's and Europe's recklessly porous refugee policy would needlessly replicate the cultural disaster that has reduced too many European cities to menacing danger zones. Thankfully, President Trump's election has halted America's descent in that direction.