All GOP frontrunners whistling the same tune as Trump

WASHINGTON — It’s not that they dislike Trump’s tune. The right wing GOP honchos think it’s just swell. But Trump is playing it too loud. He’s waking the neighborhood. The job they want done is best carried out while everyone’s asleep.

When Trump called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” the Republican leadership took umbrage. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said “I don’t agree. We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values.”

In other words, Priebus was signaling he agrees with Trump but wishes he had used slicker language.

Priebus made no response to Ben Carson’s statement that allowing any refugees at all into the United States “is a suspension of intellect.” Nor did he question Marco Rubio’s saying “It’s not that we don’t want to [take in Syrian refugees]. It’s that we can’t.”

And when GOP contenders Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush called for letting in only Christian Syrian refugees, Priebus said not one word.

See the difference between keeping out Muslims and letting in only Christians? If you don’t, you don’t speak right-wingese.

“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz said in a South Carolina speech.

Never mind that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a report saying that terror attacks from the domestic right wing pose a greater threat to the U.S. than groups like ISIS. DHS found that there have been 24 “sovereign citizen” terror attacks in the past five years.

That does not count the recent fatal attack against the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado because it happened after the report was released. Nor does it count the Oklahoma City bombing because it took place before DHS starting counting atrocities. And for some reason, DHS did not consider the murders of African American worshippers in South Carolina a terrorist attack.

More to the point: among Syrians, there is no sure test for distinguishing Muslims from Christians. Both are seeking refuge from terrorism.

Meanwhile, Glen Casada, chair of the Tennessee House of Delegates GOP caucus, proclaimed “We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop [the Syrian refugees] from coming in to the state by whatever means we can.”

Again, national GOP chair Priebus was mum.

If Donald Trump could introduce laws to enforce his racist, discriminatory anti-refugee proposals he would. He can’t, but Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, both presidential wannabees, can. In fact, they did.

Cruz brought to the Senate floor his State Refugee Security Act of 2015.

If passed, it would have amended the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act to require the federal government to notify a state’s governor at least 21 days before it resettles a refugee in that state. If the governor is not satisfied with assurances by the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement that the refugee “does not present a security risk to the state,” the governor can bar the placement.

Of course, setting immigration policy is a federal prerogative; the Constitution does not permit the delegation of such responsibility to a governor.

Not to be outdone by Cruz, Senator Paul introduced two – count them: two – anti-refugee measures of his own.

The first would cut federal programs that aim to help refugees get settled in the U.S. As it stands, the total amount appropriated to the Office of Refugee Resettlement for all refugee services is a pittance. We spend about 0.02 percent of the federal budget on providing a minimum standard of living for people fleeing from war zones and human rights abuses.

Paul calls this “refugee welfare” and he’s against it.

Paul’s second anti-refugee bill called for cutting off visas to refugees from Syria and about 30 other countries, pending background checks stricter than the procedures currently in operation, which can already take to two or three years. The bill also included a 30-day waiting period on “all entries to the U.S. in order for background checks to be completed.” He made clear he intended to particularly target citizens of France.

The bills introduced by Paul and Cruz, like the statements made by Carson, Rubio and Bush, differ little from Trump’s anti-refugee rants, but no one from GOP national headquarters has quibbled with them.

The right wingers agree with Trump, so why do they pick on him? They’re afraid that by being so blunt Trump is stirring up opposition among the American people.

They’re right.

Photo: Rubio and Cruz.  |  AP


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.