About five years ago, while his national profile was still fairly low, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) shared his concern about “terror babies.” As the Republican congressman described it, he envisioned a scenario in which pregnant terrorists planned to come to U.S. soil, have babies, and take advantage of birthright citizenship.
The terror babies may look harmless in their cribs, but “20, 30 years down the road,” Gohmert said, these home-grown terrorists will “help destroy our way of life.”
Five years later, it’s obviously difficult to take Gohmert seriously on practically any issue, but it appears that the right’s fear of small children hasn’t entirely gone away. Just ask Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie.
Christie, for his part, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday that even “orphans under five” should be barred from entry into the United States.“I don’t think orphans under five are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point. But you know, they have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?”
Note, Mitt Romney said yesterday that he supports blocking Syrian refugees from entering the United States, though he’d consider some flexibility for “women, children, and the elderly.” For Christie, that’s far too liberal – if a three-year-old ISIS victim is seeking refuge and has no parents, the governor believes the sensible thing to do is turn him or her away.
The effects of a Republican primary campaign on a person’s judgment and character can be rather alarming.
As for the consistency of Christie’s conservatism, Salon’s Sophia Tesfaye noted that as recently as September, the New Jersey governor insisted “America is a compassionate country” that would take in refugees. That “compassion” is now gone.
Christie’s callous dismissal of the plight of war orphans stands in stark contrast to his own sentiments from weeks ago. “We saw the image of that 4-year-old little boy drowned in Syria,” Christie said back in September, referring to the harrowing image of a young child laying motionless on a beach shore. “We can’t have those kinds of things.”
That, evidently, was before Christie saw an opportunity to exploit far-right panic to advance his own ambitions.