It’s not every day that Mother Jones magazine publishes something asking progressives to take it down a notch, but that’s what author Kevin Drum did in a piece published Tuesday.
Drum was reacting to a flood of mockery he saw in his Twitter feed Monday. While fellow progressives were directing their barbs at anyone suggesting the U.S. should reconsider taking in refugees from countries awash in Islamic extremists, Drum notes this is not a concern limited to the far right.
As proof, Drum cites a Pew poll published by the Washington Post. While the poll doesn’t directly address the refugee situation, it does show that a majority (71%) of Republicans and nearly half of Democrats (46%) are concerned about the spread of Islamic extremism here at home. Those numbers represent a large base of people who might see the refugee question as a genuine national security concern in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Given the polling, Drum writes, “It doesn’t seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense.” And therein lies the political problem for Democrats. Attacking those who think it might be time to reconsider our plans to import refugees from Syria, “seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people.” Drum writes that it leaves some people wondering if Democrats are “detached from reality?”
Mocking it is the worst thing we could do. It validates all the worst stereotypes about liberals that we put political correctness ahead of national security. It doesn’t matter if that’s right or wrong. Ordinary people see it as a common sense thing to be concerned about. We shouldn’t respond by essentially calling them idiots. That way lies electoral disaster.
Drum is not saying he agrees with the voices concerned about national security, he’s merely saying Democrats should avoid appearing insensitive to voter’s concerns. It’s clear he sees this primarily as an optics problem when he writes [emphasis added], “we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about.” That’s good advice, but it assumes voters won’t be able to tell Democrats are feigning their concern while stifling the urge to accuse anyone who disagrees with them of xenophobia.