Rattlesnakes & Rabid Dogs: GOP’s Refugee Rhetoric Goes From Mean To Dangerous

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For the week of November 16th, Imad and I discuss the Paris attacks and the refugee crisis hitting Texas. It includes mosque vandalisms, Abbott closing the door to refugees, and Cruz and Trump going on Islamophobic rampages.

No, the image above is not ISIS in America, but this guy’s ignorance and itchy trigger finger are dangerous none the less. And, earlier this month, 5 white supremacists were arrested for a terror plot to start a race war against minorities. Both incidents show why the GOP’s anti- immigrant/refugee tirades are so imminently dangerous.

Since the attacks on Paris, Republicans have launched an unofficial contest to see who can level the meanest, most heartless attacks against the victims fleeing terror attacks in the biblical Holy Land, and consequently that rhetoric is playing into the hands of ISIS.

The old adage, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me,” works pretty well in middle-school, but when those damaging words come from government officials they can manifest as physical harm to a vulnerable population.

Ag Commissioner Sid Miller’s Facebook page has been a rally point for anti-Muslim sentiment and hate speech. His posts have suggested that we nuke the “Muslim World,” a post that he later deleted, but last week he also compared refugees to rattlesnakes and insinuated that any one of them could “bite.” These comments would be laughable, but Miller has a Facebook following of over 100,000 and many aren’t just there for entertainment, they are there for validation.

It is the kind of validation that lead to the Islamic Center in Pflugerville being vandalized, and armed masked men parading around a house of worship in Irving, Texas. Watch this video, and when you see the Ted Cruz for President sign, remember that he said would should only take in Christian refugees because they pose no threat.

Even still our Governor has been even more reckless and harmful. Remember every time you’ve complained about the GOP cutting social services and were told, that’s the job of nonprofits and churches? Well, we can throw that excuse out the window since the Governor has handed down a decree to all charities that they stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees. Fortunately, some of the charities and religious organizations are pushing back including Catholic Charities of Dallas. After initially giving into the Governor’s demands they changed their minds posting to Facebook:

“Catholic Charities believes in a compassionate response to those who are fleeing violence and persecution around the world. We are called by the Gospel to reach out to all those in need…Catholic Charities of Dallas will continue to serve all refugees. We realize we do not work alone in relocating these vulnerable families, women and children who are seeking political refuge. We pray that our leaders will work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees in dire need of shelter and safety.”


The Governor’s directive isn’t just a matter of being cruel, it is bad security policy. By now it has been said many times, ISIS wants you to hate Muslims and to make no distinction between refugees and terrorists. And thanks to our top government officials, they are getting exactly what they want.

The GOP has played up its own apocalyptic endgame and seem to have found a kindred spirit in using fear to divide and conquer their subject population. We know that taking in Jews on the outset of the Holocaust was very unpopular, but people don’t make rational decisions when they are scared, and our Governor has done a heck of a job keeping Texans clinging to their guns, even as many have obviously set aside their Bible’s. Check out his “Mostly False” claim that two Syrian families that turned themselves into US authorities were “caught” trying to sneak across the border.

Second Amendment evangelist and GOP State Rep. Tony Dale, unironically, feared that our gun policies were too lenient to allow in refugees who could waltz into any Walmart and buy a gun. The thing is, he is right, but only thanks to the NRA, and his brethren who would rather keep a nervous finger on a trigger than enact sensible gun laws, because you know, Obama is a Muslim and wants to take your guns. These guys want you to think they are big and tough (the way they talk on the internet) but in reality, they are crap-their-pants scared of their own shadows.

So before you post something embarrassing about why we should be helping homeless veterans instead of refugees (as if we are incapable of doing both), or telling thoughtful friends to wrap a tourniquet around their bleeding hearts, remember that fear is an emotion as well. And do yourself a favor, read this article: “Stop pitting security and compassion against each other in the Syrian refugee crisis.”

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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