After the Boston Marathon bombings, many Americans displayed idiocy in two distinct ways. First, some Twitter users started blaming the Czech Republic for the attacks, prompting Czech ambassadors to go to the Associated Press to clarify the difference between their Central European country and the Russian region known as Chechnya, where the suspects had come from.
But second, and far worse, Republicans began to link the attacks to lax immigration laws, leading conservative lawmakers on the Hill to say that they will attempt to further restrict the immigration process.
That move by some Republicans shows exactly how out of touch they are with the problems facing this country.
Both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who are ethnic Chechens from Dagestan and are widely believed to be behind the bombing, legally resided in this country. Dzhokhar, who is in custody, is an American citizen. According to the Washington Post, Sen. Rand Paul wrote in an open letter that Chechnya is “an area known as the hotbed of Islamic extremism,” as if that alone should bar immigrants from that region.
The argument that Paul is making is Islamophobic and racist. Paul is equating Islam with terror, when the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people. Furthermore, the mere fact that the brothers were part of an ethnic group that is fighting against Russia should not disqualify them from citizenship. The Tsarnaevs did not choose to be born Chechen. Here, Paul appears to discriminate against hardworking people simply because of their ethnic heritage.
Unfortunately, other Republicans are beginning to follow Paul’s lead. Sen. Charles Grassley, proposed tougher checks on anyone wanting to enter the United States, according to the New York Times.
Grassley and other lawmakers should understand that wanting to come to this nation should not be probable cause to have American police forces examine every part of a person’s life.
Politicians are right to want to stop terror attacks on American soil. Every lawmaker should concentrate on keeping the American people safe. However, immigration is a red herring with regard to national security. The U.S. has some of the best police forces in the world and should concentrate on using legal investigative techniques to look for clues that alert law enforcement to a potential threat. Targeting people because of their ethnicity, religion or desire to move this country is unconstitutional and unethical at best.
If Republicans want to deal with the root causes of animosity toward the United States, then they would do better to help improve America’s image in the Muslim world.
The wars in the Middle East and the blatant Islamophobia from congressional leaders causes terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to legitimately be able to say that America oppresses Muslims. Every time a hegemonic state such as the U.S. imposes its will through force on a group, that group turns against the oppressors, and according to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism expert David Kilcullen, that is one of the fundamental flaws with American counter-terror and counterinsurgency efforts.
Republican legislators who are in positions of power think of the country as the proverbial city on the hill while simultaneously bashing Islam and numerous other minority groups. It is no wonder extremists are willing to kill Americans.
As for immigration reform, Republicans should approve paths to citizenship, allow increased legal immigration and ease entry restrictions into this country. In a time of economic hardship, Keynesians rightly argue that a reinvigorated workforce and the resulting flow of capital will help pull the American economy out of the gutter. Furthermore, an influx of new people living in this country will require additional housing, and President Barack Obama has already acknowledged with his proposed budget numbers that housing is going to be one of the biggest areas for American economic growth in the coming years. In that way, allowing more immigrants is nothing but a benefit for this country.
Some Americans on Twitter confused Chechnya and the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, a few republican lawmakers proved to be the real problem with their impossible antics in Congress.
Dan Morgan-Russell is a freshman majoring in international relations global business.