Right Web

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

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

Elliott Abrams, convicted for lying before Congress during the Reagan years, has willfully misinterpreted President Obama’s recent comments on refugees in order to repeat the far-right cliché that the president is anti-Christian.

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

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.


Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s first U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and is widely considered to be a future presidential candidate.


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.


Josh Rogin is a journalist known for his support for neoconservative policies and views.


Laurence Silberman, a senior justice on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was a mentor to controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and has been a vocal supporter of right-wing foreign and domestic agendas, including the campaign to support the invasion of Iraq.


The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, advocates regime change in Iran and has strong connections with a wide range of top political figures in the U.S.


Eli Lake is a columnist for Bloomberg View who has a lengthy record of advocating for aggressive U.S. foreign policies towards the Middle East.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The tragic end of Jamal Khashoggi should serve as a reminder that it’s time for the United States to move on and leave the motley crew of undesirable Middle Eastern partners, from Israel to Saudi Arabia, to their collective fate. They deserve each other.


Jobs should not be an excuse to arm a murderous regime that not only appears to be behind the assassination of a U.S. resident and respected commentator but is also responsible for thousands of civilian casualties in Yemen—the majority killed with U.S-supplied bombs, combat aircraft, and tactical assistance.


The contradictions in Donald Trump’s foreign policy create opportunities for both rivals and long-standing (if irritated) US allies to challenge American influence. But Trump’s immediate priority is political survival, and his actions in the international arena are of little concern to his domestic supporters.


While the notion that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is decades old, it has been bolstered in recent years, by the campaign to add to the definition of anti-Semitism any criticism that singles Israel out and doesn’t apply the same standard to other countries. The bottom line is that this entire effort is designed not to combat anti-Semitism but to silence criticism. 


Short-term thinking, expedience, and a lack of strategic caution has led Washington to train, fund, and support group after group that have turned their guns on American soldiers and civilians.


Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


RightWeb
share