Oh, FFS, MoDo has called upon her Republican brother Kevin to irritate us on Thanksgiving. In “King Kevin Versus Queen Cersei” she says we should let the cacophonous feasting, with right wings of the turkey and left, begin! Oddly enough, no one is allowed to comment on Kevin’s delusional ravings, probably to spare his tender teaparty fee-fees. Mr. Cohen ponders “World War III” and moans that sometimes, as Syria shows, little things get bigger, people lose patience, there’s a spark and you get a big mess. And again, no comments are allowed, probably to spare his tender, hand-wringing fee-fees. Mr. Kristof, in “Donald Trump, Meet a Syrian Refugee Named Heba,” says a young woman who dreams of being an artist is still afraid after escaping her ISIS-controlled homeland — because she fears she will be sent back. Hmmm… you can comment on Mr. Kristof’s offering. And people have commented in fierce opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the country. Apparently Mr. Kristof is made of sterner stuff than MoDo or Mr. Cohen. Here, FSM help us, is MoDo/Kevin:
The intense interest in the thrill-a-minute, through-the-looking-glass 2016 race, fueled by anger at maladjusted Washington and anxiety after the Paris attacks, has spawned predictions that Thanksgiving political debates will be noisier and nastier than ever. Plenty of turkeys with a bone to pick and plenty of dressing down to go with the dressing. The Democratic National Committee actually issued talking points for the “lively” conversations with Republican uncles, aunts and brothers. Clearly, the people at the D.N.C. don’t have any Republican relatives. It’s never a parley. It’s a lecture. So I decided to let my Republican brother offer his red-state soliloquy now, hoping he’d let me eat my white meat in peace. He-e-e-ere’s Kevin:
While liberals and the mainstream media may regard the myriad Republican presidential candidates as a “house of crazies,” I see an embarrassment of riches. It is the ultimate irony that the Republican field blows the Democrats away on one of their favorite topics — diversity.
Here’s how I see the Republican contest and the Democratic coronation:
Donald Trump: With all his bombast and incivility, Trump has joyfully debunked political correctness for the complete fraud that it is. With his talent for making debate ratings soar, he has allowed all the other candidates to be seen and heard at celestial levels unreachable without him. He has touched a nerve because people are fed up with liberal groups being offended at every slight, real or imagined. (I can assure you none of these people were taught by Jesuits.) Three Ivy League schools are currently under siege, with students at Princeton demanding the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from a building. Washington and Jefferson are up next as former slave owners, leaving Al Sharpton as the default “father of our country.” We are tired of apologies for America’s exceptionalism.
Ben Carson: Not since Eisenhower has a complete novice politician been so legitimate a contender. Can he avoid the traps set for him by the media? He presents intriguing possibilities as part of the ticket, forcing African-Americans to choose between him and the wife of the man Toni Morrison called our “first black president.”
Marco Rubio: Young, whip smart and self-assured, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of foreign affairs and is a stunning contrast to Hillary Clinton both in generation and vision. Wait until he starts delivering his speeches in Spanish.
Ted Cruz: The Hispanic heir apparent to Barry Goldwater had the best moment in the third debate, calling out an obscure cable TV host looking for his 10 minutes of fame.
Jeb Bush: I like the Bushes, all of them. Jeb would have been the perfect Republican candidate from 1988 to 2000. In this age of instant gratification, his wonkish grasp of policy does not move the needle. Too bad.
Chris Christie: Trump with better manners. A certain pick for attorney general if this gig does not work out.
Contrast our informed candidates with the Democratic lineup of Queen Cersei, the socialist Doc Brown from “Back to the Future” and the lead singer of O’Malley’s March. I keep waiting for Martin O’Malley during debates to whip out his guitar for a few Irish songs. It would be more entertaining.
Clinton: She’s seeking the highest office in the land even though 60 percent of the country does not trust her and her emails are currently under F.B.I. review for potential national security breaches.
Bernie Sanders: His proposals for free health care, free college and expanded Social Security have a price tag of $18 trillion with no way to pay for it. Not even a candidate for budget director.
O’Malley: Does anyone know his reason for running?
The next president will have to deal with a severely weakened hand, at home and abroad. The bill for “leading from behind” has come due. After the Radical Islam (dare I say thy name?) attack on France, the president who called ISIS “contained” was left to issue his familiar disclaimer that Islam is a religion of peace. In dealing with foes, Clinton, in a 2014 speech at Georgetown University, called for “trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective.” Note to Hillary: Any enemy with beheading as a menu item does not deserve empathy.
A peeved President Obama lashed out at Republicans for daring to pass a bill asking for a more robust screening process for the Syrian refugees. His adviser, Ben Rhodes — the political hack behind the deceitful Benghazi talking points — assured us that our screening was airtight even as 47 Democrats voted for the bill. The president has been forced to face the inconvenient truth that others will lead the world in this battle while he continues his lonely quest against the world’s “greatest threat”: climate change.
Our enemies do not fear us, and authority at home is being questioned by a disgraceful campaign since Ferguson to undermine the police. I am the son of a policeman, and a police officer is killed in the line of duty every 60 hours. The thin blue line is the only thing that separates our society from anarchy. There will be awful shootings by police officers like the one in Chicago, but these are exceptions. My dad told me that any job where you can legally carry a gun will occasionally draw the wrong type of person. Police officers certainly do not deserve to see the media turning criminals into celebrated victims. The next time you see a police officer, say thank you.
So, ask yourself three questions: Do you want a president who refuses to name the enemy? Who do you want to appoint the next three Supreme Court justices? And who will protect the homeland and honor the Constitution? Then pray that you got it right.
In case you want to see what a delusional old Republican looks like, MoDo supplied a picture of Kevin:
That’s some comb-over, or possibly a really, really bad rug. Next up we have Mr. Cohen:
“Mommy, please tell me again, how did World War I begin?”
“Sweetheart, I already told you, that was long ago. A century is a very long time.”
“But, Mommy, please.”
“Well, it’s complicated. Do you really, really want to know?”
“It’s a sad story. The world was organized in one way, and that way collapsed, and in the process millions of people were killed.”
“Wow. How was it organized before?”
“There were things called empires. They controlled vast territories full of different peoples, and some of these peoples wanted to rule themselves rather than be governed by a faraway emperor.”
“The Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of them. It had lots of grand palaces in its capital, Vienna, where people danced at fancy balls. It governed parts of a poor corner of Europe called the Balkans where its rule was disliked. One day in 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife were assassinated in a Balkan city called Sarajevo by a young man, a Bosnian Serb, who wanted the freedom of the south Slavs from imperial rule.”
“That’s sad, Mommy. Guess the music stopped. But so what?”
“The empire got really angry. It told Serbia to do a bunch of things or face war. The ruler in Vienna was confident because he had a close friend, a rising power called Germany. Serbia also had a good buddy, a country called Russia, which is big. Anyway, Serbia kind of dithered around, like you with homework, so Austria-Hungary went to war against it.”
“Then Germany declared war on Russia, whose friend was France, which didn’t like Germany for various reasons. Soon Germany attacked France through Belgium. That made Britain cross. It went to war against Germany. Another empire — a sickly one — called the Ottoman Empire, eventually joined the German and Austro-Hungarian side. Later the United States, a rising power, came in on the British and French team. After a few years, more than 16 million people were dead. The Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, German and Russian empires had collapsed.”
“All because a couple was killed? Mom, that’s weird.”
“Sometimes little things get bigger, people lose patience and perspective, there’s a spark and you get a big mess.”
“Mom, it couldn’t happen again, right?’
“Are there any empires left today?”
“Some people call America an empire even if it doesn’t have an emperor. It is the most powerful country on earth, with soldiers all around the world and different peoples that rely on it for direction and protection. But America’s getting weaker.”
“So, Mommy, is it kind of like what you said about the world being organized one way, and then being organized in another way, and lots of people dying in the process?”
“Not exactly, sweetheart. Dying where?”
“In Syria. Mom, what’s Syria?”
“It’s a small country with different peoples and religions that came into being when the Ottoman Empire got so sickly it collapsed.”
“Why are people fighting there?”
“It’s complicated. Do you really, really want to know?”
“Well, there was this brutal, remote tyrant behaving like an emperor and some of the peoples in Syria rose up against him. The tyrant started shooting them. America and Britain and France, among other countries, didn’t like that, and they said they’d kind of support the rebels, but didn’t really.”
“Because, like I said, America is sickly. It’s getting weaker.”
“Okay. Then what?”
“The tyrant had a big friend called Russia. He had another quite big friend called Iran. They both really did support him.”
“So he won?”
“Not quite. Many of the people who wanted to get rid of the tyrant were Sunni Muslims. They had the backing of Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni Central and hates Iran and has supported Sunni fanatics. Turkey, which was the successor to the Ottoman Empire and hates the Syrian tyrant, also got on the rebel team. But Turkey hates another people in Syria called the Kurds even more than the tyrant — so much it’s been ready in a sneaky way to help one group of Sunni crazies who slit throats, kill Kurds and shoot people in Western cities.”
“Mom, I’m confused.”
“Syria has broken up, like the Ottoman Empire. Russia is bombing some enemies of the Syrian tyrant. America is bombing the throat-slitters. So is France. Turkey shot down a Russian plane. Russia is angry. The Kurds want the state they didn’t get 100 years ago. Saudi Arabia is fighting a region-wide war against Iran. That war is most intense in Syria, where hundreds of thousands are dead.”
“All because some folks wanted to get rid of a bully?”
“Sometimes little things get bigger, there’s a spark and it’s a big mess.”
“Mom, what would World War III be like?”
“Don’t worry, darling, everything is different now.”
“Totally. We have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Happy Thanksgiving, my love.”
And now here’s Mr. Kristof, writing from Lesbos, Greece:
Ben Carson has compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs. Donald Trump says that he would send them back.
Who are these Syrian refugee monsters who terrify American politicians?
Meet Heba, a frightened, desperate 20-year-old woman who dreams of being an artist and has just made a perilous escape from territory controlled by the Islamic State in northern Syria.
She was detained two months ago with her sister by Islamic State enforcers because her sister’s baby girl had too short a skirt — even though the baby was just 3 months old.
“That was crazy,” Heba said, shaking her head. “This was an infant!”
Heba says she and her sister argued that infant girls should have a little leeway in showing skin, and eventually the family was let off with a warning.
But Heba, strong-willed and self-confident, perhaps had been too outspoken or too sarcastic, and the police then cast a critical eye on her clothing. She was covering even her hands and face, but the authorities complained that her abaya cloak wasn’t loose enough to turn her into a black puff that concealed her form. The police detained her for hours until her family bailed her out by paying a $10 fine.
Heba was lucky, for other women have been flogged for violating clothing rules. Her sister saw a woman stoned to death after being accused of adultery.
“If I were wearing this,” Heba told me, pointing down at the tight jeans she was wearing as we spoke, “my head would come off.” She offered a hollow laugh.
I spoke to her after she left her mother and siblings behind in Syria (her father died years ago of natural causes) and fled with a handful of relatives on a perilous journey to Turkey, then on a dangerously overcrowded boat to this Greek island. I took Heba and her relatives to a dinner of pizza — Western food is banned by the Islamic State — and as we walked to the pizzeria she made a game of pointing out all the passers-by who would be decapitated by ISIS for improper dress, consorting with the opposite sex or sundry other offenses.
“It’s a million percent difference,” she exulted of life in the West. “Once you leave that area, you feel so good. Your whole body relaxes.”
Americans are understandably afraid of terrorism after the Paris attacks, and that fear is channeled at Syrian refugees. So pandering politiciansportray the refugees as menaces whom the vetting process is unable to screen out, and Americans by nearly two to one oppose President Obama’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrians over a year.
In fact, despite the impressions left by American politicians and by the Islamic State, Syrians are in general more educated and middle class than many other people in the region, and the women more empowered. Heba’s aspirations to be an artist aren’t unusual.
Security concerns are legitimate, but the refugee screening is a rigorous two-year process. It would be far simpler for the Islamic State to infiltrate the U.S. by dispatching European passport holders (like those who carried out the Paris attacks) on tourist visas, or just use supporters who are already American citizens.
The anti-refugee legislation that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives would effectively end the intake even of Christians and Yazidis who have been particularly targeted by the extremists.
In person, Syrian refugees are less scary than scared. Heba wouldn’t allow me to use her last name or publish her photo for fear of getting her family in trouble, and she cannot contact her mother for the same reason. (I’m not mentioning the town she lived in because she’s terrified that the Islamic State might try to identify and punish her family for her escape and for her candor to a Western journalist.)
Really, Ben Carson, you want to compare this freedom-loving woman to a rabid dog?
Donald Trump, when you said of Syrian refugees, “If I win, they’re going back,” do you really intend to deport Heba back to the Islamic State to be flogged or decapitated?
Heba is fed up with violence and extremism — but now in the West she encounters a new kind of political extremism that targets refugees like her. These Syrian refugees find themselves accused of potentially being the terrorists they flee.
“We have no connection to terrorism,” she told me, mystified that anyone could fear her. “We’re running away from all that.”
Heba showed me her abaya, which she keeps in her backpack. She says she never wants to wear it again, so I asked why she doesn’t discard it.
“I’m scared,” she admitted. “If they send us back, I will need it.”
Ben Carson and Donald Trump, Heba is neither a rabid dog nor a crazed terrorist, but a desperate young woman whose life is on the line. Let’s drop the fearmongering and let Heba cast away that abaya forever.