French President Francois Hollande today promised that “France will remain a country of freedom,” defending his decision to honor a commitment to accept migrants and refugees despite Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

“Life should resume fully,” Hollande told a gathering of the country’s mayors, who gave him a standing ovation. “What would France be without its museums, without its terraces, its concerts, its sports competitions?

“France should remain as it is. Our duty is to carry on our lives.”

In the same spirit, he added, “30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment,” explaining that they will undergo vigorous security checks.

Citing internment of Japanese following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roanoke Mayor David Bowers Wednesday called for area governments and nongovernmental agencies to suspend help in relocating Syrian refugees to the area…

Bowers, a Democrat who announced last week that he won’t run for re-election next year, broke with his party — including Gov. Terry McAuliffe — on the refugee question and is aligned with a view embraced by many Republicans…

“I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor,” he said, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

A top Tennessee Republican lawmaker believes the time has come for the National Guard to round up any Syrian refugees who have recently settled in the state and to stop any additional Syrian refugees from entering Tennessee.

“We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can,” said House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, referencing refugees.

“I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks. … We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.'”

If Western Europe has a flood of refugees and a strained system for screening and vetting the influx, the United States has the opposite. Since October 2014, just 1,869 Syrians have come to the United States. Republicans like Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina say that Obama wants to bring an additional 100,000—or more—but that’s a gross exaggeration. At most, the White House has set a goal of bringing 10,000 Syrians to the country in the next year.

Moreover, and vital to questions of security, those 10,000 have undergone heavy scrutiny. First, there’s the usual process for refugees who want to come to the United States. After passing background checks, a potential refugee is referred to the United States from the United Nation’s refugee agency. Then, our government does its own screening, individually vetting each applicant. For Syrians, there’s an additional step…

Put simply, if you’re a militant who wants to come to the U.S. to commit violence, there are far easier ways than posing as a refugee.

The first problem, of easy terrorist movement, is worse on the continent not only because of Europe’s sheer proximity to the Middle East, but also because of the way the continent’s Schengen Area works: If your passport (forged or real) gets you into one Schengen country, then you can enter all the rest (well, or at least until recently you could) without facing any kind of border check at all. That effectively means that Greece and Italy and Spain are doing the work of border control and refugee screening for France and Germany and Sweden, which is rather like if New Mexico, Mississippi and Alabama bore the primary responsibility for screening refugees to the reset of the U.S.A., with only ad hoc support from the federal government.

But fortunately that isn’t how border security works in the United States: Here it’s centralized and federalized, as is refugee resettlement, and while it’s obviously subject to various forms of incompetence it isn’t in the hands of local officials whose incentives (and cultures and languages and bureaucratic effectiveness) differ radically from the governments of their wealthier neighbors, as it presently is in Europe. Also, almost all our refugees arrive by plane, and we have the Atlantic Ocean to do pre-screening for us; boats full of Syrian (or “Syrian”) migrants are not regularly washing up on the Outer Banks or Nantucket. So we should, by all rights, be able to do a better — not perfect, but better — job of screening a refugee population than does the as-currently-constituted Eurozone.

And then the U.S. also has a far better track record than Europe when it comes to assimilating Muslim immigrants and preventing extremism from taking root. Not always — we have our Tsarnaev brothers, after all — and some of our success is a selection effect: America’s Muslim-immigrant population has always included more middle-class asylum-seekers than poorer economic migrants. But so long as we maintain an asylum process, it should be possible for today’s Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be screened and selected for as well, and there’s no reason to think that 10,000 or 25,000 or 50,000 new arrivals, seeded into well-educated diaspora populations across a nation of 300 million, are going to suddenly recreate the Paris banlieues in Louisiana or New Jersey.

Most Americans want the U.S. to stop letting in Syrian refugees amid fears of terrorist infiltrations after the Paris attacks, siding with Republican presidential candidates, governors, and lawmakers who want to freeze the Obama administration’s resettlement program…

Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults in the survey, conducted in the days immediately following the attacks, say the nation should not continue a program to resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees. Just 28 percent would keep the program with the screening process as it now exists, while 11 percent said they would favor a limited program to accept only Syrian Christians while excluding Muslims, a proposal Obama has dismissed as “shameful” and un-American…

While majorities in both parties agree that Islam is inherently a peaceful religion, evangelicals are split, with 46 saying Islam is inherently violent. On the other side, 45 percent of evangelicals call Islam an inherently peaceful religion with some adherents who twist its teachings to justify violence.

“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply troubled that many American politicians have used the tragic terror attacks in Paris, France as a justification to promote xenophobia against Syrian refugees,” the group said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller…

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which bills itself as America’s largest Muslim civil rights group, is also calling Americans terrible for concerns over Syrian refugee resettlement.

“The mainstreaming of Islamophobia by a number of our nation’s political and religious leaders has encouraged the latest hate-filled actions of anti-Muslim bigots,” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement sent to TheDC. “Now is the time for those leaders who are concerned about traditional American values of religious inclusion and tolerance to speak out against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime.”

As governors and presidential candidates compete to appease public anxiety, distinctions among Muslims—who’s violent, who’s radical, who’s theocratic, who’s affiliated with terrorists or terrorist sympathizers—are tossed aside. On Tuesday, in an interview on MSNBC, Huckabee said “It’s not about Muslims”—and then explained why, in effect, it is. “If Methodists were strapping bombs to their children’s chests and blowing them up so to kill a bunch of civilians, I’d be saying we need to be real careful about letting Methodists in, too,” he argued. “I don’t know of any other group of people uniquely that are targeting innocent civilians and committing these acts of mayhem.”…

[T]he candidates aren’t interested in distinctions. If you’re Muslim, there’s no point in investigating any further. Are you Sunni or Shiite? Are you radical or moderate? Are you affiliated with a militant organization? Have you committed a crime? It’s no use asking these questions, because, as Rubio explains, “There’s no way to background-check someone that’s coming from Syria.” We won’t even draw obvious distinctions, such as age or sex. On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie refused to accept orphaned Syrian toddlers. The only question we’re willing to entertain, in the absence of reliable records, is whether, as Bush asserts, “you can prove you’re a Christian.”…

That’s the new conservative standard: guilty until proven Christian.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday panned the idea of favoring Christian refugees from Syria over Muslims, delivering a rebuttal to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a GOP presidential candidate…

“I don’t think any child, whether they are Christian or whether they are atheist or whether they are Buddhist, that we should make a distinction,” McCain said. “My belief is that all children are God’s children.”

McCain said Tuesday “there should be no litmus test” for the religious affiliation of refugees as long as they are vetted and determined not to pose a threat.
 
“Are we going to differentiate children by their religion? I don’t think so,” he said.

Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?

The liberal response to this should be far more measured. We should support tight screening. Never mind that screening is already pretty tight. We should highlight the fact that we’re accepting a pretty modest number of refugees. In general, we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about and then work from there.

Mocking it is the worst thing we could do. It validates all the worst stereotypes about liberals that we put political correctness ahead of national security. It doesn’t matter if that’s right or wrong. Ordinary people see the refugees as a common sense thing to be concerned about. We shouldn’t respond by essentially calling them idiots. That way lies electoral disaster.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews ended his show Tuesday night with two numbers — the number of Syrians the U.S. has recruited to help fight against the Islamic State and the number of total Syrian refugees…

Matthews continued his pondering over the two numbers by implying that the Islamic State could be taking Syria “from people who would rather leave for the West.”

“Some said here last night that we can’t ask Syrians to fight for their country because they have families,” Matthews said. “Well, tell that to the American families, those we care most about, who have a member of their family on their fourth-deployment right now.”

“Is it too much to ask that the Syrians lead the fight to retake Syria?” Matthew continued. “It is their country. Unless they’re willing to abandon it. And what do we think of people who do that? And besides, even if we, the United States and other European countries overthrew ISIS, we’d still have to turn Syria over to somebody. If we had Syrians playing the rightful part in the liberation of their country, they would be the ones taking it over.”

The refugees that President Obama and supporters of his approach are talking about are families in desperate straits. According to the United Nations, about half of these individuals are children — a group particularly at risk of falling ill, being malnourished, or suffering from abuse or exploitation. They continue to run toward the harsh weather of a European winter and take other tremendous risks, because anything is better than the chaos that has engulfed their homeland…

The calls for states to reject them not only runs counter to our values, but also our law, which gives the federal government authority to place refugees and does not provide states the right to refuse.

While parts of today’s refugee crisis are difficult to compare with the time when the St. Louis approached our shores, our fundamental choice is the same. Instead of using the mourning in France to deny opportunity to thousands of innocent people, we should recall the most famous gift we received from the French — the Statue of Liberty, with the famous inscription recognizing America as a place that welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

We should rally around the President’s call for compassion for a suffering population that wants nothing more than a safe place to rebuild their lives from the rubble of war.

Faith-based groups, who play a key role in resettling refugees to the United States, say they are dismayed by the wave of anti-refugee fervor set off by the Paris terrorist attacks and are urging supporters to contact elected officials on behalf of victims of the Syrian civil war…

“These refugees are fleeing terror themselves — violence like we have witnessed in Paris,” said the statement by Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the conference’s committee on migration. “Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully so the close to 4 million Syrian refugees can return to their country and rebuild their homes. Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive.”…

Joanne Kelsey, assistant director for advocacy with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said she hoped that the sound and fury over refugees would soon be replaced with reason as Republican lawmakers and officials get more details about how the refugee program works.

“This is a very reactionary time,” she said.

SEN. RAND PAUL: You don’t have the right to be an American citizen. Most people don’t realize this but refugees come here and immediately are put on welfare. There are whole agencies set up to put them in government housing, government cash assistance and they’re basically put into our welfare programs…

One of the biggest supporters of Sunni terrorism in the world is Saudi Arabia, Qatar is up there, UAE is up there. Sometimes government, sometimes private donors. What I would say is no more sales of any arms to these countries until they start accepting refugees. The Gulf states have poured gasoline on this fire, they have not taken a refugee. Iran has not taken in refugees and they’ve been an arsonist in this situation as well. So those who live there need to step up and we need to say we’re not going to sell arms to you anymore if you’re not willing to do your fair share.

Appeals to historical parallels such as Franklin Roosevelt’s callous response to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany are inapt inasmuch as there was at the time no worldwide Jewish supremacist movement engaged in massive acts of terrorism on every continent save Antarctica. “The exact same arguments were made against welcoming Jewish refugees” is a sentiment that mistakes trivial rhetorical similarities for substantive similarities…

There are reasons to believe that U.S. protocols for screening refugees and immigrants for terrorist ties are not especially good, and that our surveillance of immigrants and refugees after their entry into the United States is insufficient. It may very well be the case that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan ancestry believed to have been a principal organizer of the Paris attacks, was radicalized in Belgium. But that fact would counsel more scrutiny and surveillance of Muslim immigrant communities, not a more liberal and generous policy toward Middle Eastern immigrants and refugees. There also is reason to believe that our current national political culture and institutions have made it difficult to assimilate immigrants satisfactorily, especially when they arrive in large enough numbers to form self-sustaining enclaves. For that reason, other points of comparison such as the large waves of Irish immigrants that worried Americans of another era also are not very apt: Pubs and mosques perform very different social functions, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians isn’t very much like the Muslim Brotherhood. We need to think in terms of specifics rather than generalities…

When in doubt—and the doubts here are heavy—the wisest thing is to do is: nothing. Certainly it is prudent to proceed slowly and with extreme caution before we take any steps that are difficult or impossible to reverse.

Via RCP.