On Being the Absolute Worst, Revisited

Picture, if you will, an alternate reality where you are the governor of a U.S. state. Not one of those fancy states where a lot of celebrities live. Maybe one of the ones with an absurdly high maternal mortality rate, or a ton of meth labs.

You watched the news coming out of Paris this weekend with horror, feeling genuine empathy for the distraught victims of Friday’s terrible attacks. But then you wondered, how can I exploit this for my own tawdry political ends?

You didn’t have to wait long. Initial, still unconfirmed, reports suggested that one of the attackers might have come to Europe as a refugee from Syria. Never mind that the only definitively-identified attackers are French and Belgian nationals. And never mind that the vast majority of the refugees are fleeing exactly the sort of violence that Paris experienced on Friday. And especially never mind that refugees entering the United States undergo a far more rigorous screening process than those entering through Greece’s overwhelmed ports.

“Aha,” you thought. “I’ve never gone wrong betting on my constituents’ worse natures before.” And so, instead of exhibiting a single iota of leadership capability or moral fortitude, you chose to exploit your voters’ most racist, anti-immigrant, and misinformed tendencies.

You announced that your state absolutely, categorically would not accept any more Syrian refugees for resettlement. You didn’t mention that, far from the unstoppable tide conjured by your histrionic rhetoric, your state has so far only resettled a handful of Syrians. (Say, 14.) You also didn’t mention that really, this isn’t your call. Immigration policy is explicitly a matter of federal authority, and refusing to process refugees will put you on the wrong side of the law. And you certainly didn’t mention that instituting anti-Muslim policies is exactly what the terrorists want.

So, congratulations, governors of the states highlighted below. You have displaced Australia as the absolute worst.

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As of 11/16/15, 3:00pm PST 11/17.15, 8:00am PST: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. (Nevada not included, as the governor has so far only requested “a review” of the refugee resettlement process.)

Kate Cronin-Furman

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