Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


Is Uncle Sam the Refugees' Bogeyman?

By Rob Tenery, MD on November 25, 2015

Straying from his traditional liberal position, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews made a critical observation in the ongoing war in Syria as he ended his show on Tuesday Nov. 17.  “Let me finish tonight with two numbers that don’t make sense,” Matthews said, as he pointed out that of the 4 million Syrian refugees, only four have been recruited by the United States to join the fight to retake Syria. “Is there just one in a million Syrians willing to fight for Syria? Is that the deal? Is it?” He continued, “Would just one in a million Americans be willing to fight for our country?”

Matthews was pointing out the conflicting position by those who advocate for accepting the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees as the rebels, the al-Assad regime and ISIS battle for control of their homeland. Referring to those who defend these refugees, Matthews said, “Some here say that we can’t ask Syrians to fight for their country because they have families. Well, tell that to the American families, those we care about the most, who have a member of their family on their fourth-deployment right now…. Is it too much to ask that the Syrians lead the fight to retake Syria? If we had Syrians playing their rightful part in the liberation of their country, they would be the ones taking it over.”

 Although the vast majority of Syrian refugees are just trying to start a new life, hidden within their ranks are an unknown number whose intended purpose is to spread their Islamic militant philosophy to other countries. Two recent revelations shore up this concern. The refugee population coming out of Syria are 73 percent males between the ages of 15 to 50, which means they are of prime military age. The second is in randomized interviews, about 13 percent of the refugees say they support the actions of ISIS.

 Published on Daniel Pipes Middle East Forum on Nov. 8, 2006, and authored by Vinod Kumar Sharma, Professor at the Advanced Research Institute of the Reserve Bank of India, is the article, “How Many Muslims Are Terrorists?”  In his article, Professor Sharma points out some very disturbing revelations. The overwhelming preponderance of terrorist acts are conducted by young Muslim men 15 to 30 years old. Only one out of fifty terrorist attacks involve a female. Based on the most objective data available, at least 60 percent of all Muslims have the potential to be jihadists by way of their fundamentalist voting patterns. Using these criteria of sex and age reduces Islamic terrorist candidates down to a maximum of one in every seven Muslims.  

Extrapolating from the recent data collected on the Syrian immigrant population, coupled with suppositions of Professor Sharma, for every 10,000 Syrian refugees, the vast majority being Muslims, between 700 and 1,000 could potentially become jihadists. That is not to say they will, but just that they could. To reinforce this argument, at least one of the confirmed terrorists in the recent Paris attack was part of the current Syrian migration.

The current divide in this country between the president, who appears to get the support of many in the Democratic party, and the majority of the Republicans who hold public office, is whether to allow many of these immigrants from Syria to be relocated to this country.  The common concerns of further burdens on the entitlement programs and taking jobs that would otherwise go to our citizens still persist. The real concern, that is more of a reality in this population, is the threat to public safety by allowing potential terrorists a green light to enter. The administration plays down this threat but agrees that failsafe vetting of these immigrants is limited at best.  

President Obama said at a news conference, “That’s not really what’s going on in this debate. When the candidates say they won’t even admit a three-year-old orphan, that’s political posturing.  When individuals say that we should have a religious test, and that only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted. That’s offensive and contrary to American values. I cannot think of a more important recruitment tool for ISIL than has been coming out of here during the course of this debate.”

On Thursday 47 Democrats defected to the Republican position, passing by 239-137, a veto-proof margin, proposed legislation that would put in place further hurdles for relocating the Syrian refugees in this country. Thirty-one states have put the administration on notice that they won’t welcome the Syrian refugees. The President appears to be in real trouble with this issue unless the Democratic minority in the Senate can block the proposed legislation.

Inferences from Chris Matthews’ thoughts might serve as an answer to this very difficult dilemma of humanitarian needs versus safety for those who are already here. Divide the immigrants into three categories: women, children and draft-eligible males. Even then, we must use every resource available to properly vet them because there is still the possibility that any of them could commit an act of terror.

For the male population, who are military eligible, they would be placed into a federally funded and controlled conscription program. This is similar to our draft and programs in Israel and Switzerland. They would be paid, probably commensurate with military inductees. This would be so they could support family members that came with them. The purpose of their service would be a payback for letting them come into this country, and they can be more closely monitored. It would also introduce them to respect for authority and possibly encourage loyalty over the jihadist movement that causes so many worldwide to be led astray.

With this country's protections and opportunities, allowing anyone to relocate to the United States is a gift, and it should come with a price. That price is preserving the safety and economic stability that is already owed to those who are here. Being reluctant to accept these refugees that we know absolutely nothing about, is not being the bogeyman, but common sense. We should expect, no demand, that those we elected to protect do the same! 





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