Thursday, June 09, 2016

Nicholas Kristof, meet Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Kristof, urging Bernie Sanders not to pull a Nader and help elect Trump, invokes the sum of all Democratic fears:
Presidential campaigns are driven in part by surprises: What if there is a new wave of Central American refugees, or a terror attack by a Muslim recently admitted to the U.S.? Either would bolster Trump’s chances.
Quite so.  But that second horror scenario flashes on a blind spot in Kristof's last column -- a truly remarkable one, relating the saga of a 20 year-old Afghan woman who, denied a formal education and shut up in purdah at home, has used online courses to learn advanced mathematics and other subjects, including English, and now, having gained admission to a junior college in Iowa, seeks a visa to study in the U.S. That's a problem:
Unfortunately, the United States isn’t helping. Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul rejected her application for a student visa. That happens all the time: Brilliant young men and women are accepted by American universities and then denied visas because, under U.S. law, they are seen as immigration risks...
Michelle Obama has pushed an impressive campaign called Let Girls Learn, yet her husband’s administration has never seemed as enthusiastic, and America routinely denies visas that would actually let girls learn. The United States spends billions of dollars fighting terrorism by blowing things up; I wish we understood that sometimes the most effective weapon against terrorists isn’t a drone but a girl with a book.
It's fine for Kristof to prod the Obama administration to be more open to the plight of refugees and others yearning for our shores -- but today's column spotlights why the administration does not seem so "enthusiastic." If Sanders has a responsibility to scale back his challenge to the status quo in support of the team, so does Obama have a responsibility to enforce the hypervigilance that our paranoid political discourse demands. Remember the vituperation after the San Bernadino shooting over Tashfeen Malik's fiance visa application, which failed to pick up her commitment to jihad?

That same wholly necessary fear of reaction at once hysterical and opportunistic to any crisis of course drives the administration's brutal roundup of central American refugees who have been denied refugee status. Those cruel deportations are meant to send a message: don't come. A new surge of these desperate people on the border could also elect Trump -- and put a wall up in front of those who follow. That's the harsh reality a president has to deal with.

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