Fortress America 

It’s time to own up to our failure in Iraq and take refugees in.

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One of the most prominent right-wing arguments for the United States’ March 2003 invasion of Iraq, heard from our own U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett to virtually every right-wing radio host, was that it was “better to fight the terrorists over there than fight them here at home.”

Well, guess what. Now that the Iraq war has turned to shambles thanks to our nation’s dishonest and incompetent leadership, the “terrorists,” as the right-wing calls them, are busy looking for asylum.

Thankfully, the rest of the world would rather call these people “refugees.” According to a Feb. 21 Associated Press report this year, more than 800,000 Iraqis have flowed into Syria seeking a livelihood and stability, and 75,000 Iraqi students are currently enrolled in Syrian schools. Reading a recent March 2 article in Time magazine, we learn that 2 million Iraqis have left their country for better prospects elsewhere. Not only Syria, but Jordan and Iran as well, have taken them in. Sweden has graciously taken in 11,000 Iraqi refugees'or “terrorists,” as we call them here in America'and other nations of the world have provided two-thirds of the costs of providing for these people.

As the nation which brought war to these people, promising them peace, democracy and security that would follow, what’s been our share? Well, we paid a third of the cost of providing for these people through the United Nations, or $60 million. According to United Nations figures, Iraqis last year led the list of 40 nationalities worldwide looking for asylum.

But will we let these people inside our borders?

Nah. We like war. Really, really like it.

But forgive us, please, if our hearts just aren’t big enough to reap the consequences of our own foreign policy failure. As Time magazine noted, we admitted 18 Iraqi refugees in 2005, 202 the following year, and this year have plans to admit up to 7,000 refugees from that war-torn nation, a nation we ourselves tore into war.

One of the more heart-breaking paragraphs of reporting from a Jan. 2 New York Times article regarding this topic told of an Iraqi named Amar, who interpreted for the United States government. He’s withstood death threats, plus an eye and finger lost to a roadside bomb, yet still got turned away at the Baghdad’s U.S. Embassy and other embassies in Jordan when applying for refugee status. “They said they have nothing for Iraqis,” he told the Times. “We feel just like stupid trash.”

Fact is, thanks to tighter U.S. immigration regulations after 9/11, even those without Middle East backgrounds have trouble staying in the United States legally.

This “fortress” attitude doesn’t hurt just the outside world, either. It hurts us right where Americans feel it most'the pocketbook. According to a report last month by Morgan Stanley, “America’s post-9/11 Patriot Act now makes it much more difficult for Middle East portfolio investors to transfer funds in the U.S.” Who takes up the slack of this dropped windfall? The financial markets in London and Tokyo take it up, and quite gladly at that. By some estimates, London has long surpassed Manhattan as the world’s financial center. Just ask New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

There are plenty of best-selling books feeding our fear as well, chief among them is Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. This book takes to task both European socialism and Muslims, but mostly it takes to task Europeans’ lackadaisical attitude toward child-rearing in contrast to the more robust birthrate of Muslim Europeans. “Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War II?” Steyn asks. “In the 30 years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography'except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out'as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em.”

The message is clear, then. Not only should the United States cease allowing Muslims through our borders. We, but Western women most especially, have a lot work ahead where “breeding” is concerned. After all, if “you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ‘em.”

Steyn warns that Europe is already poised to become “Eurabia,” where the most popular baby name in Rotterdam is Mohammad, by the year 2020. Unless, that is Europe’s women don’t put down what they’re doing and start breeding'fast. But as more than one critic of his book has pointed out, Steyn doesn’t say how European Muslims will swell their numbers from 20 million to more than 200 million in 13 years or less.

Consciously or not, books such as Steyn’s are designed to make us fear both Muslims abroad and Muslims in our own neighborhood. We cannot abide them abroad, where we apparently must declare war on them, and we cannot abide them at home, either. Even as our nation’s policies in the Middle East continue failing. It’s galling that right-wing pundits such as Steyn criticize Europeans nations such as Sweden for taking these refugees inside their countries, even as we shut them out. Again, even as our nation’s policies in the Middle East continue failing.

There’s no doubt that given the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamists’ hand that many Muslims have found it difficult to assimilate into European society. Still, wouldn’t it be a lot more confident of the United States to believe that we, as a nation, can do better than Europe?

Here’s another statistic to consider as well. When young Muslims rioted in the streets of Paris in 2005, they burned some 9,000 cars, but only one person was killed. When Los Angeles’ erupted into riots in 1992, doubtless some cars were burned, but 53 people lost their lives.

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