Trumpsplaining the refugee crisis

To some liberals, it is obvious that Western democracies ought to welcome as many traumatized Muslims as possible, even if that means accepting that some small number of second-generation Muslims might embrace violent jihadism. Those who oppose this approach are, according to this line of thinking, blaming the victim, because the vast majority of Muslims pose no threat.

My sense is that Trump supporters believe in a different principle: better safe than sorry. Sure, most Muslim immigrants are fine people who pose no threat. But some of them might pose a threat. Moreover, there is no guarantee that spending large sums of money and promoting tolerance will prevent every second-generation Muslim from feeling alienated, because most people are partial to those who are similar to them and at least mildly suspicious of those who are different. Why take any chances?

Those who embrace safety-first conservatism don’t care all that much about whether doing what it takes to be safe means violating some universal moral principle or whether they’re blaming the victim. They care about keeping themselves, their families, and the members of their national community safe. They see liberals as dangerously naïve. Calling out Trump for his appeals to racial and ethnic resentment, or his ignorance of policy detail, won’t dissuade them from supporting him, because they believe that for all his faults, he understands their fears in a way that other politicians simply do not.