Lately, if you disagree with someone over the smallest thing—who stole whose parking spot, for instance, or the question of whether eating nachos ultimately constitutes cultural appropriation—you can count on being called “hateful” or “bigoted” before you have the time to slap on a highly offensive sombrero. Obama’s not the only politician guilty of this, of course: Hillary Clinton has compared Republicans to terrorists and labeled refugee policy skeptics as “hateful,” while Donald Trump, that marvelous master of always assuming the worst, recently called dissenting Iowa voters “stupid” to their faces.
And so it is that we live in a world where actual journalists who get paid actual money for their work compare reasonable refugee policy skeptics holding reasonable national security concerns to cruel hatemongers turning away baby Jesus from the inn. There is no middle ground, you see; there is only bigotry. I’ve had more thoughtful debates with my 3-year-old, and he honestly thinks one day he’s doing to grow a full set of T. rex teeth.
Some have argued that America’s messy refugee debate is a distraction from the larger fight against ISIS. I see it as an important warning sign. The challenges, after all, might get greater from here on out. A country can’t successfully function this way.