As we have seen throughout this week, last week’s tragic attacks in Paris have turned into a field day for the most extreme anti-immigrant wing of the Republican party. Republicans have been tripping over themselves, each trying to to condemn innocent Syrian refugees more forcefully than the last. Not only has this revealed their hypocrisy on issues like gun control (i.e., “I don’t want refugees because now it’s too easy for them to get guns, thanks to me.”), it is playing directly into the hands of the very ISIS terrorists they hate so much.
It should surprise no one that Texas Republicans are among the loudest spewing hypocrisy and anti-refugee rhetoric. And when it comes to anti-immigrant hypocrites, there is no one more vociferous than Ted Cruz.
Cruz responded to the Paris attacks as we’ve come to expect, with showy promises of legislation that will not come to fruition. This time around, the level of hypocrisy is more astounding than usual. On Monday, Cruz proposed a bill to ban Syrian Muslim refugees from entering the United States. This is hypocritical on a couple levels. First, let’s go back to last year, when Cruz went on Fox News to defend the entry of Syrian refugees into the United States:
Yes, just one year ago, Ted Cruz was arguing that Syrian refugees could be allowed into the United states without threatening national security. The video was uploaded by Cruz himself, and is also featured on his website. What’s changed since then? Just one thing: Ted Cruz is now running for president in a field dominated by Donald Trump. So, instead of continuing with a relatively reasonable position, Cruz has firmly placed himself on the outer fringes of the right wing.
Of course, there’s an even bigger problem with Cruz’s new declaration than the fact that he said something contrary a year ago. It’s the fact that Cruz’s own father is a refugee who fled Cuba in search of political and religious freedom — the very type of refugee Cruz now wants to forbid from entering the country. It’s a level of hypocrisy that rivals the fact that Cruz purchases his health insurance through Obamacare.
How does Cruz reconcile his cognitive dissonance regarding his own ancestry and his political extremism? A weak sauce version of, “No really guys, my dad is totally different, stop asking me questions.”
“See, that’s why it’s important to define what it is we’re fighting…If my father were part of a theocratic and political movement like radical Islamism that promotes murdering anyone who doesn’t share your extreme faith or forcibly converting them, then it would have made perfect sense.”
Let’s unpack this analogy, shall we? Cruz is equating the millions of Muslims fleeing for their lives from ISIS with ISIS themselves. Of course, if the refugees were part of ISIS, then they wouldn’t be trying to flee. It’s like equating all Christians with the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church, and using that as a reason to forbid Christians from entering the country. Or, to put it in terms that Cruz might relate to, it’s like saying that all Cubans were communists, even those trying to flee Fidel Castro’s regime like Cruz’s father, and arguing that no Cubans whatsoever should be allowed to enter the United States. I’m sure Ted Cruz would rightly take issue with anyone saying that Rafael Cruz is a communist just because he’s Cuban. So then why is arguing that Syrian Muslims are part of ISIS just because they’re Muslim? It’s equally wrong.
The truth is, Ted Cruz would not be here if the United States had banned the entry of refugees. While avoiding future Ted Cruzes would be a nice potential side-effect of Cruz’s proposed anti-refugee bill, it’s not enough to justify turning our backs on millions of innocent people in need.
We are certainly not the first people to point out Ted Cruz’s shameless hypocrisy on the issue. Not only have reporters asked him about it, President Obama called out the Republican Party on their “political posturing.” And as always, when Ted Cruz doesn’t get his way, he threw another public hissy fit. This time, Cruz snapped that President Obama should “Come back and insult me to my face,” because President Obama condemned Cruz while Obama was on a trip to Manila. Said Cruz, “I prefer it in the United States and not overseas, where you’re making the insults…It’s easy to toss a cheap insult when no one can respond.” And yet somehow, despite the words that are coming out of his mouth, Ted Cruz is having no difficulty responding directly to what President Obama said, in yet another case of hypocritical cognitive dissonance. What’s more, it’s telling (and unsurprising) that Ted Cruz’s response is to take personal offense instead of responding to the substance of Obama’s comments. And, to be clear in a debate between Ted “Insult me to my face” Cruz and President “Folks Wanna Pop Off” Obama, there’s no doubt as to who would win. (Hint: It’s not the Texas Senator popping off.)
So now, here we are, another week, another case of Ted Cruz shamelessly pandering to the lowest common denominator. At this point, we’re used to Ted Cruz’s antics. He already knows no one likes him. And when it comes to the issue of Syrian refugees, I can only echo what my colleague Joe Deshotel said earlier this week:
“If we want to win the war against ISIS we must declare an armistice in the manufactured war on consumer Christianity of holiday greetings and Starbucks cups, and focus on the war being waged on the founding virtues that reflect the best of our country. As we begin to display the religious symbols of the holiday season, remember that these refugees come from the lands that birthed Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And as we crusade to defeat our common enemy, the enemy of peace, let’s beware that the road to Damascus was paved with good intentions and righteousness.”
UPDATE: As of Thursday afternoon, Senate Democrats have blocked Ted Cruz’s anti-refugee bill. Ted Cruz, however, is still a hypocrite.