Jeb Bush has tried to seize on the Paris attacks as a key campaign issue, which is proving to be easier said than done. Yesterday, for example, the former governor became the first competitive Republican presidential hopeful to say Syrian refugees should be welcome on American soil, only to reverse course a few hours later.
Making matters considerably worse, the GOP candidate also tried to shed additional light on his idea of evaluating refugees based on the popularity of their religious beliefs. Bush continues to draw a distinction between Christian refugees (whom he wants to help) and Muslim refugees (whom he prefers to ignore), and as the New York Times reported, his defense for this posture didn’t do him any favors.
Asked how he would identify Christian Syrian families to ensure that they receive a special focus, Mr. Bush did not offer a clear answer, but said the onus would be on the refuges to demonstrate their religion.“You’re a Christian – I mean, you can prove you’re a Christian,” he said. “You can’t prove it, then, you know, you err on the side of caution.”
I honestly have no idea what this means, though the idea of U.S. officials subjecting refugees to some kind of religious test in which they’d be asked to “prove” their Christianity isn’t unique to Jeb Bush. Rupert Murdoch, for example, raised the prospect this week of supporting refugees who are “proven Christians.” Laura Ingraham added on Monday that she’d be “happy” to welcome “some” refugees, if “we can verifiably say are Christians.”
I’m eager to hear more from the right about their proposed mechanism for a Christian test. In the meantime, however, I’m inclined to think the idea is stark raving mad and more than a little dangerous.
MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin added yesterday that it’s “hard to imagine a better propaganda victory for ISIS” than U.S. “demanding refugees prove their Christian faith.”