President Barack Obama gave his Thanksgiving Day lecture yesterday, giving us some insight into how the Commander-in-Chief views the shortcomings of the citizenry of the United States.
A few weeks ago, the president announced his intention to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the U.S., to the great joy of no one. There is a hot debate in the country about immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and general unease on the topic of Islamic terrorism. For once, the public, the courts, Congress, and the governors are generally aligned in their wish to approach these topics cautiously.
The president is on a different wavelength. and after his executive order allowing five million illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. was blocked by a federal court a week ago, his angry reaction was uncontrolled.
After the brutal attacks in Paris, concern about Obama’s plan to accept thousands of refugees increased substantially. The administration has been embarrassed by President Obama’s repeated errors in judgement concerning ISIS, but that has in no way impaired his confidence. Obama said the refugees are coming and that’s all there is to it. Actually, Congress may have a veto-proof majority, but the president hasn’t acknowledged that.
To the president’s intense irritation, two proposals surfaced: 1) increase screenings before allowing refugees in 2) stop them from coming altogether. At each stop on his trip abroad last week, he bitterly mocked his political foes, accusing them of being afraid of widows and orphans. He didn’t say the name Republican, he spat it. (There was no mention of the 47 Democrats who agreed with putting the brakes on the Syrian refugees.) Ted Cruz earned an extra verbal grenade, thanks to his suggestion the U.S. limit the refugees to Christians. “That’s not American,” the president snapped.
But why was the president so angry? At the root of Obama’s angst is a belief that there are only two reasons to disagree with him and neither is legitimate. On the charitable side, you could just be poorly informed. But if you have the information and persist in disagreeing, you can only be motivated by malevolence. It isn’t possible for a good person with a clear understanding to disagree with the plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees here.
Though the president has dismissed his political enemies as vessels of hatred, he has given the people the benefit of the doubt and assumed we only disagree because we misunderstand. Thus the heavy-handed moralism the president dispensed yesterday, during which he made an interesting comparison between the refugees and the pilgrims of the 1600s. I guess he thinks there is nothing more American than a pilgrim, not even apple pie. So unless you’re a horrible pilgrim-phobe, you must get on board with his plan.
It was a familiar line for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who frequently admonish the people of the United States that all Muslims aren’t bad people, and that just because someone dresses differently, it doesn’t make them a terrorist. I’ve heard both of them use this line repeatedly, as if legions of people are insisting Muslims are bad people who are probably terrorists, based on their clothing. Yet, the only time I’ve ever heard this suggested is when Obama and Clinton “refute” it. Interesting, isn’t it?
During his lecture, Obama relayed a letter of support he received. “Money is tight in our home,” he quoted approvingly. “But I have a guest room. I have a pantry full of food. We can do this.” Now, that was American. That was generous and kind and brave. That is how a good person responds when people show up on our doorstep and want to come in. We aren’t dangerous trespassers, but welcome guests. Hopefully, Ted Cruz was taking notes.
Initially, I was preoccupied with the president’s choice to make an emotional appeal for support by equating the Syrians with a small group of settlers who went on to annihilate the native population that welcomed them.
I could have saved myself the trouble of trying to make sense of the president’s musings because a few hours later, we saw his reaction to someone trespassing on his property.
Enter Joseph Caputo, a guy of whom we currently know next to nothing. Caputo was standing outside the White House gates, with a flag draped around him. A tourist overheard Caputo mutter, “Let’s do this” just before biting down on a binder (sure, you read that correctly) and scaling the fence.
Just then, the front door of the White House flew open, and President Obama rushed across the lawn, waving security off as he hurried to welcome the fence jumper. As he gave Captain America a bear hug, he called out, “Get the Lincoln bedroom ready, and set another place for Thanksgiving dinner!”
No, of course that part didn’t happen. The White House went on full lock down, with Secret Service agents and snipers reach and waiting. Captain America, who was content with getting over the fence, sat down in the grass and watched as a team of agents approached, guns drawn, with a K-9 unit in tow for reinforcement. He was immediately taken into custody and two hours later, the White House was cleared, though it remains on heightened alert.
Apparently, the expectation to welcome anyone trespassing and ignore the potential threat posed by people who “dress differently” is one more fundamental American tenet from which the White House self-exempts.
If everyone had a Secret Service detail to ensure no dangerous person could get within 500 feet of ourselves and our loved ones, we might come around to the president’s point of view. As it is, President Obama appears to feel not the slightest sense of embarrassment in chastising Americans for our lack of courage, even as he cowers behind dozens of armed guards for protection from a guy carrying a binder with his teeth.