Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Convicted Liar Lies About Obama’s “Shameful” Refugee Policy

LobeLog

Elliott Abrams’ conviction for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra hearings should offer some indication of the neoconservative’s loyalty to the truth. But that setback certainly hasn’t discouraged Abrams from taking shortcuts with facts in the greater interest of scoring dubious points in the right-wing blogosphere.

Yesterday, Abrams took to the website of Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard to accuse President Obama of calling the provision of assistance to Christian refugees “shameful” even “while [the State Department] claims that’s exactly what it’s doing.”

Indeed, Obama did call something shameful, and the State Department does prioritize assistance to persecuted religious minorities, even if Abrams was a bit fuzzy on that point when he declared that “the Obama administration has abandoned Middle Eastern Christians and other minorities during years of violent assaults.”

But Obama wasn’t criticizing that policy, and Abrams appears to be willfully misinterpreting Obama’s words in order to repeat the far-right cliché that the president is anti-Christian.

Obama was, however, criticizing the mainly Republican push to exclude Muslim refugees on the basis of religion. Abrams selectively excerpted Obama’s statement and misrepresented what the president actually said. Here’s what Abrams quoted Obama as saying in the Weekly Standard:

And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution—that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

And here are the two paragraphs of additional context that Abrams conveniently chose not to quote or paraphrase lest they undermine his highly tendentious thesis:

When Pope Francis came to visit the United States, and gave a speech before Congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit those who were of the same religious faith. He said, protect people who are vulnerable.

And so I think it is very important for us right now—particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard—not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.

Indeed, that “dark impulse” is something that Abrams is reinforcing by making the argument, as he did yesterday, that “in the United States and Western Europe, Christian refugees have not become terrorists…” (a factually inaccurate statement, as Jim pointed out yesterday) and by proposing to devise tests to “verify that people who claim to be Christians are indeed Christians—from asking them questions about their religious upbringing, to the fact that Muslims but not most Middle Eastern Christians are circumcised…”

If Elliott Abrams is wondering, which he probably isn’t, about what Obama meant by the “shameful” reactions to the plight of Muslim refugees, he could look at the map of 26 states whose governors have said they won’t accept Syrian refugees. Or he could look at his own suggestion that confirmation of circumcision be used as a litmus test for determining the religion of refugees and who is more or less deserving of asylum protection.

Those are the proposals that Obama was probably referencing when he said “We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The millionaire pastor of the Cornerstone Church in Texas, John Hagee argues that U.S. support for Israel will play a “a pivotal role in the second coming” of Jesus. He has also risen to new prominence during the Trump administration.


Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian who served as a chief aide and speechwriter in the George W. Bush White House, is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post and one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics on the right, calling him an “unhinged president.”


Robert Kagan, a cofounder of the Project for the New American Century, is a neoconservative policy pundit and historian based at the Brookings Institution.


Mira Ricardel, former weapons marketer for Boeing, is the deputy national security adviser under John Bolton. She is a well-known foreign policy hawk who has served in key positions in the administration of George W. Bush and, earlier, in the office of former Senator Robert Dole (R-KS).


Fred Fleitz left his role as chief of staff at the National Security Council under John Bolton to succeed notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney as president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.


Brian Hook is the director of policy planning and senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and is the head of the Iran Action Group.


Haim Saban is a media mogul and major donor to the Democratic Party known for his hardline stance on Israel and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

U.S. supporters of Israel are in a bind: public opinion is changing; there are more actors publicly challenging Israel; and the crude, heavy-handed tactics they have successfully used in the past to silence criticism now only aggravate the situation.


As the civilian death toll from Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen grows and the backlash against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in Khashoggi’s murder escalates, former Sen. Norm Coleman’s control of Republican Party campaign purse strings positions him as a key influencer of Republican congressional action, or inaction, in curtailing the increasingly aggressive and reckless actions of Saudi Arabia.


Increasingly, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are positioned as rivals, each with pretensions to Middle Eastern influence or even hegemony. It’s not clear whether they can continue to coexist without one or the other—or both—backing down. This has made it more difficult for the United States to maintain its ties with both countries.


What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing — and arguably quite a lot.


The Donald Trump administration’s handling of nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia promises to lay bare some realities about security issues and nuclear programs in that part of the world that the administration has refused to acknowledge.


Eminent U.S. foreign policy expert Stephen Walt’s new book critique’s the “liberal hegemony” grand strategy that has dominated U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.


(Lobelog)  Retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told LobeLog he will remain on the board of the Gatestone Institute, a right-wing think tank that receives money from Trump megadonors Robert and Rebekah Mercer and disseminates anti-Muslim and anti-refugee conspiracy theories. Last week, LobeLog reported that Dershowitz received $120,000 from the Gatestone Institute in 2017 and…


RightWeb
share