An Incredible Exercise in Public Hypocrisy Is Unfolding Right on Schedule

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Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images

The world’s most predictable exercise in public hypocrisy is unfolding right on schedule. After spending a couple of weeks belaboring the administration over how it allegedly left our Afghan allies behind, even as the administration airlifted some 125,000 people out of a war zone, the Republicans—and a few too many people in the elite political press—are now trafficking in Scary Brown People stories regarding the administration’s attempts to resettle some of our Afghan allies, and their children, in this country. For example, the Republicans in Wisconsin have gone typically crazy-go-nuts. From Wisconsin Public Radio:

Last week, federal officials said Fort McCoy, located near Tomah, was one of a few sites under consideration to receive an undetermined number of Afghan refugees over the next several weeks. At the time, officials said up to 22,000 individuals in total would be housed at three sites in the United States. While a number of groups and politicians, including Gov. Tony Evers, have lauded Wisconsin’s potential role in supporting the refugees, some Wisconsin Republicans have raised concerns. On Friday, state Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, sent a letter to the governor saying the state doesn’t have enough information about the refugees to ensure Wisconsinites’ safety.

"You have offered no information on whether you intend to insist on safeguards for the people of this state, or whether you intend to close your eyes and open your arms to 10 to 20 thousand potentially unidentified, potentially unvetted, potentially unhealthy people as they pour into rural Wisconsin," Testin said in the letter.

This guy is the president pro tempore of the Wisconsin state senate. The refugees literally are going to be housed in a camp. And, as is typical, Senator Testin would like very much to have his cake and eat it, too.

Testin argued the governor should provide information about how many refugees arrive in the state, their health status, how much relocating the refugees is expected to cost taxpayers and "ejection of any refugees found to have terrorist ties." He also said thousands of new refugees could strain public safety and health care systems in rural Wisconsin.

In an interview, Testin said he's committed to welcoming Afghan allies to the state. "We want to make sure that we are helping those that truly need to be helped, those who have helped our U.S. efforts overseas over the course of the last 20 years," he said. "We're not trying to make this overly political, we just need some answers.”

Remarkably, but unsurprisingly, the unmitigated horseshite gets more rank the further up the partisan ranks you get. Here’s a member of the United States House of Representatives:

Wisconsin U.S. [Rep.] Tom Tiffany, a Republican, has also outlined his reservations with accepting Afghan refugees in Wisconsin. "Our national security has been deeply degraded in the months since January 20 and allowing the mass entry of foreigners from a known hotbed of terrorism will only make this situation far worse," Tiffany said in a prepared statement.

After the mob took over the Capitol, of course, Tom Tiffany voted not to certify the president*’s election. He’s a bigger threat to the republic than anyone who might be living at Fort McCoy for a while ever will be.

Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY - Getty Images
Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY - Getty Images

The New York Times is on this story, too, but, as expected, is soft-pedaling the utter two-faced mendacity of the Republican Party. It’s not the hypocrisy, you see, it’s the “schism.” Here’s a fine example of a kind of pure Timesian euphemistic lullaby.

On the issue of Afghan refugees, Mr. McCarthy has walked the same tightrope that he has on other issues, trying to appease the two sides of the party. He has stated publicly that “we owe it to these people, who are our friends and who worked with us, to get them out safely if we can.” But he has also leaned into the nativist, Trumpian side, giving voice to the generalized, inchoate fears about foreigners entering the country.

Can you lean in to a tightrope? Sounds dangerous. Spectacularly, a few paragraphs earlier in the same story, McCarthy, who has the political courage of a dandelion gone to seed, dives off the tightrope entirely.

But others — including former President Donald J. Trump and Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader — have sought to fold the issue of Afghan refugees into the anti-immigrant stance of the party’s far right. They are criticizing Mr. Biden not simply for leaving the Afghans behind, but for opening the United States up to what they characterized as dangerous foreigners. “We’ll have terrorists coming across the border,” Mr. McCarthy said last week on a call with a group of bipartisan House members, according to two people who were on the call, where he railed against the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal. He also brought up the issue of migrants entering the country along the U.S.-Mexico border in his discussion of Afghans being evacuated.

Not discussed in this evaluation of the “schism” is the simple fact that both sides of the “schism” agree on one basic, important thing: the vast utility of these particular refugees as cudgels in our domestic politics. They can call the current administration on what they call its feckless appeasement, and they can scaremonger about terrorism and immigration at the same time. Consistency be damned. They gave up on that long ago, and it never cost them a thing.

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