Roy Cooper 3

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper

Since Gov. McCrory was too busy winging his way to Las Vegas for a GOP governors’ confab on Tuesday to make a White House phone briefing on the Syrian refugee crisis, it’s too bad that he didn’t arrange for Attorney General Roy Cooper to sit in on the call for him. If Cooper had been able to join, he would have learned why his apparent echoing of McCrory’s call for a “pause” in the settlement of the refugees was just as ill-conceived and disappointing as the Governor’s.

As WRAL reported last night, Cooper said the following yesterday on the subject:

“As chief law enforcement officer of North Carolina, I support asking the federal government to pause refugee entries to make sure we have the most effective screening process possible so our humanitarian efforts are not hijacked. At the same time, we must not let political fear-mongering on this issue divert our attention and resources from stopping terrorists who may already be here or who are trying to get into our country in other ways.”

While Cooper deserves some credit for calling out the fear-mongering that’s been rampant in so many quarters in recent days, his statement ultimately smacks of a politician trying to have things both ways. As multiple experts have explained, there are no good reasons to stop admitting Syrian refugees into North Carolina. Attorney Kate Woomer-Deters of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center (the parent organization of NC Policy Watch) put it this way in a fine op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Refugees, by definition, are people who enter the United States already having been vetted and allowed to arrive legally within our borders. Under current law, refugees must prove to the U.S. government that they have faced persecution themselves and that they have not persecuted others. In other words, these are the very people fleeing the oppressive conditions and violence in their home countries that terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida have created.”

In other words, if politicians want to call for a “pause” in accepting refugees so that they can appear virile and appease ill-informed public opinion, we may have to live with it, but no one should harbor the illusion that such a pause will have any real impact on the ground other than to enhance human suffering.


[This post has been updated — scroll down for the post script.]

As The Nation reports this morning, Gov. McCrory’s unfortunate posturing on Syrian refugees bears a striking resemblance to what other right-wing governors and politicians around the country are saying:

“The growing US backlash against Syrian refugees continued to escalate on Tuesday, as at least 27 governors announced that they would close their states to asylum seekers fleeing that country’s civil war.

GOP presidential hopefuls, meanwhile, sought to one-up one another in ways to limit the number of refugees the United States takes in from Syria and the greater Middle East. Senator Ted Cruz called for admission to this country to be limited to Syrian Christians, a position former Florida governor Jeb Bush seemed to adopt over the weekend. On Monday, Senator Rand Paul announced that he would be proposing legislation to suspend visas for refugees from Syria and 30 other countries.”

Meanwhile, as Sue Sturgis reports at Facing South, the Guv is already attempting to raise campaign funds off his stance.

“McCrory apparently also believes the issue makes for winning politics. The same day the governor called for a halt to Syrian refugees being resettled in his state, his re-election committee posted an appeal to its Facebook page calling for ‘NO SYRIAN REFUGEES IN NC’ and linking to the campaign’s contribution page.”

Sigh…this seems unlikely to get less ugly anytime soon.

P.S. on  a more encouraging note, the libertarian conservative website Reason is featuring an article that blasts the political fear mongering. To quote:

“When defending gun rights, conservatives point out that when guns are outlawed only outlaws have guns. The same logic applies to fleeing Syrian refugees: If ISIS victims are banned from America, only ISIS will enter.

But logic doesn’t seem to be driving the conservative response to the refugee crisis in the wake of the Paris attacks. Fear and naked politics is….

Simply shutting down the program won’t stop jihadis from finding their way to the United States. It’s their innocent victims who’ll suffer. This won’t make America, the land of the brave and free, any safer — just a whole lot more ashamed of itself when the fear abates and sanity returns.”

David Lewis

Rep. David Lewis

Not that we needed one, but this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer offers yet another reminder of how state budgets are put together in Raleigh these days. As the story written by Patrick Gannon of The Insider details, Rep. David Lewis, the powerful chair of the House Rules Committee “took significant steps in this year’s legislative session to protect the state contract of a friend and campaign donor” by “tucking language into a technical corrections bill that became law in the final minutes of the session – ensured that contracts for those services would continue to be bid out to the private sector when they expire next year.”

In other words, a law was written secretly in the dead of the night to protect a campaign donor with no public sunlight or input.

Now, consider this fact in the light of yesterday’s edition of the Fitzsimon File, in which Chris reviews thePat McCrory press event expressed position of Gov. McCrory on such shenanigans in 2008, during his first run for Governor. As Chris notes, McCrory promised “to veto any state budget that includes items added in private sessions and not included by the House or Senate during the regular budget process.”

Sadly, of course, as Chris also notes, “Virtually every budget McCrory has signed would qualify for a veto under that promise but he has signed every one of them.”

Obviously, as occurred with his infamous repudiations of his 2012 promise to approve no further restrictions on access to abortion services, something changed between the 2008 campaign and McCrory becoming Governor in 2013 and it wasn’t good.

It’s too bad. Some of those 2008 promises made a lot of sense.


The parent organization of N.C. Policy Watch, the North Carolina Justice Center, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. McCrory’s announcement yesterday that he would oppose Syrian refugees coming to North Carolina:

Statement from the NC Justice Center: Syrian refugees should find home in NC

Times of great human tragedy are a moral test for all of us. Currently, thousands of Syrians are fleeing terror and violence from their war-torn home country. They want what we all want: a safe place to rebuild their lives. A home where their children don’t have to fear the constant threat of violence.

A few of these families have received refuge in our state. Every North Carolinian should be proud of this: it stands in the American tradition of accepting the tired, poor, huddled masses who yearn for nothing more than to breathe free.

There are many reasons, practical and otherwise, to be disappointed in Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to oppose settling Syrian refugees in North Carolina. It ignores our constitutional system, where the federal government sets immigration and refugee policy. It also sends all the wrong signals — both to refugees here, and to people overseas who may perceive this move as hostility toward helping Muslims, even those in the most desperate of situations.

The savage acts of terror in Paris require a determined and vigorous international response. We grieve for the loss of innocent lives, and fight back our nation and the world must. But the enemy is not the Syrian refugee families and their children, struggling for a peaceful life. In fact, the terrorists caused these Syrian refugees to flee their homes in the first place. If we refuse to provide them a new, safe life and opportunity, we add only to their misery, do nothing to enhance our own security, and turn probable friends into possible future foes. We can fight terror without turning our back on our values and constitutional principles. If we turn our back on those values, the terrorists win in a different way.

When we think of how to handle tragedies like this one, we should imagine our own relatives in the position of the refugees. For many of us in this nation of immigrants, this is not especially hard: a few generations ago, it was our relatives in this position.

Like our relatives of a generation or two ago, today’s refugees just need shelter from the storm. They will find it in a place where they can settle, find work, prosper and contribute. Let this place be our nation. Let this place be our state.


Pat McCrory 2Dear Pat,

Regarding your recent pronouncement that we will no longer accept Syrian refugees, all I can say is, WOOOH! Yeah! Sing it, girl! Speaking truth to the powerless, that’s my guv! I mean, I don’t think it sounds terribly legal, but you were so brave and forthright, telling traumatized families to continue to wander the earth because you’re all about the safety of North Carolinians. Babe. That is so … potent. So virile.

Which brings me to a point you may not have considered. Now that you can tell people they can’t live in the state (cool superpower, bro!), you have an opportunity to exclude a truly dangerous class of people. It includes 100% of the Paris terrorists, 100% of the 9/11 hijackers, approximately 99% of all mass shooters, and roughly 90% of all murderers everywhere. Can you guess who it is? Can you, Pat? Hint: They’re not all Syrians. They’re not even all Muslims.

Violence doesn’t have a religion, a nationality, a color, or a creed, but it does have a kickstand. Do you get it now? Men. They’re all men. As soon as we stop accepting men, we will be exponentially safer. Won’t that be righteous? Everyone shall know of your commitment to the security of our citizens. Think how strong you’ll look when you make this stand for the old North State. You’ll represent the future, Patty Mac. Isn’t that what every governor wants?

The establishment of the Matriarchy in North Carolina could be your legacy. We’ll have to work out the rules, of course, about what it means when you say that certain people can’t come to the state, but there’s plenty of time for all that. (I know you’re thinking we’ll need all that time and more because the ladies can take a good long while making up their minds, amirite?) I don’t want you to worry that there will be no place for you, Pat, there will be exemptions and exceptions, and anyone who has been neutered by the Legislature should be a shoo-in. Read More