COLUMN: Who’s scarier? Republicans or refugees?

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A family of six Congolese refugees arrived in Missoula last week to begin their new life far from the Tanzanian refugee camp where they had lived for many years.

Good for them. May they be blessed with a better life in our great state and country. We all should wish them well.

Our nation has always welcomed newcomers, including refugees from war-torn countries, to join us in pursuit of the American dream. We will continue to do so, but that does not mean we should ever violate our own best interests. Our welcome mat should never be an excuse to treat average Americans like a doormat.

Unfortunately, too many voices, including two Montana newspapers, have tried to vilify everyday Americans who insist that our own safety and well-being must come first — yes, even before the interests of refugees.

Both the Missoulian and the Bozeman Chronicle ran editorials last week that chastised GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte for sending out a campaign mailer that proclaims “Montana security first” and chides Gov. Steve Bullock for refusing to challenge federal programs that are bringing thousands of Syrian refugees to small towns across the United States.

The Chronicle declared that “this kind of rhetoric has thoroughly polluted our national political dialogue,” and the Missoulian condemns it as “fear-mongering.”

Both editorials imply that Gianforte was being “insensitive” because his flier was released about the same time the African family moved to Missoula, as if concerns about the safety of American citizens should go on hiatus whenever someone’s feelings might be hurt.

How absurd. If we do not want the American dream to turn into the American nightmare, we cannot pretend that our good will can protect us from other people’s bad intentions. And for the record, there are millions of people in the world who have evil intentions when it comes to the United States.

Of course, the lucky family from the Congo could be made up of marvelous people who will do very well here. Again, we all hope so, but do not be so naive as to think that all the refugees who will be coming to Montana in the coming years will be fine and upstanding people.

Soft Landing, the local organization that invited the International Rescue Committee to Missoula, is no doubt well-meaning, but by appealing to emotion rather than logic in making the case for refugee resettlement, the organization could well be a Dangerous Launch for terrorism instead of a Soft Landing for refugees.

How many Americans have to be killed by refugees or Mideastern immigrants such as the Tsarnaev brothers (Boston Marathon bombing), Omar Mateen (Pulse nightclub massacre), Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik (San Bernardino massacre) or Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez  (Chattanooga military recruiter shootings) before the Missoulian and the Bozeman Chronicle recognize there is a real problem? Are we supposed to be OK with a couple dozen murders of Americans per year in exchange for feeling good about helping refugees escape their own countries? It’s not fear-mongering when you can point to dead bodies, is it?

The International Rescue Committee has a well-documented agenda of seeding a community like Missoula with non-threatening refugees like the Congolese family, but then later switching to bringing in refugees who could themselves be Muslim extremists or might easily provide cover for Mideastern terrorists. If we ignore that history, then shame on us.

Soft Landing, and apologists like the Missoulian editorial board, find no cause for concern. They say that Syrian refugees who might ultimately be transplanted into Western Montana will be thoroughly vetted before they arrive. But that flies in the face of statements by FBI director James Comey and others responsible for national security who have confirmed that there is no way possible to “vet” refugees from places like Syria where there are no government records, no infrastructure, and no shortage of enemies of the United States.

Defenders of Soft Landing also reject the evidence of other communities that have previously imported refugees into their mix with oftentimes disastrous results. You only need read about the case of the 5-year-old girl who was reportedly sexually assaulted by two or three young Muslim migrant boys in Twin Falls, Idaho, to understand what could be at risk. The worst part of that story was that public officials and the media tried to make the girl and her family the villains instead of the victims.

It is literally too heart-breaking for me to even write about the facts of the rape case, but I encourage you to do a web search for “Twin Falls refugee rape” and read about it for yourself. Lots of stories online make excuses for the accused assailants, but ask yourself whether the parents of the little girl and the neighbor who witnessed her being assaulted have any reason to make up the story?

If you are not made sick to your stomach by the self-serving politicians, prosecutors and media experts who tried to cover up or excuse the incident, then you no doubt will already be calling me a fear-monger for taking the side of a 5-year-old girl who has been scarred for life.

That little girl is now a refugee, too. She and her family had to flee from their home because of harassment from her attackers and their relatives. How many more Americans should be made to fear for their lives, their safety and their well-being in order to make foreigners feel welcome among us?

Something is rotten in the state of Idaho, and if Greg Gianforte wants to protect Montana families from having to suffer like this Twin Falls family, then I don’t see why he should be ashamed about it, and I am sure he is not.

Can Montana’s governor take on the federal government over the refugee issue, and win? I’m not sure, but I do remember Gov. Brian Schweitzer taking on the president over a much less important issue like Real ID, and at least making a stand for the rights of Montana citizens. I would love to see Gov. Bullock do the same when it comes to protecting not just the rights, but the very lives, of Montanans.

It wouldn’t hurt if the newspapers of Montana encouraged him, too, instead of pretending that we have more to fear from Republicans than refugees.

Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana.

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