|John McCain talking with reporters.|
John McCain is at it again.
Once again, McCain undermines the cynicism with which we tend to view politics and politicians. More than half of the governors in the United States have declared that they will not accept any Syrian refugees. Some of the presidential candidates have said they oppose taking in any refugees, while others have said that they would only allow us to take in Christians. In times of fear, nothing is as popular as xenophobia.
McCain, on the other hand, responded with a seeming disregard for what is popular.
I suppose if you have been a prisoner of war for over five years, and brutally tortured, public opinion polls don’t seem like much of a threat. John McCain is a real war hero and at his best he has also been the embodiment of what we would like to have in our political leaders.
With the exception of a few months during the 2008 presidential campaign, when it seemed like his body had been possessed by alien forces causing him to sound like a caricature of an angry old man, he has generally been remarkably free of political pandering. In 2004 he stood up against the “Swiftboat” attacks on John Kerry, and he has been resolute in his opposition to torture. And even in 2008, he had that remarkable moment when a women in the audience started talking about how she believed Barack Obama was not a real American, and that he was an Arab, McCain took the microphone from her and said, “No.” He repeated the “no” as the more zealous partisans in the crowd began to boo. “He’s a decent family man and a good American with whom I just happen to have some fundamental disagreements,” said McCain. “And that’s what this campaign is about.”
On Sunday, presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) declared that only Christian refugees should be able to enter the country because "there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror." And Governor Chris Christie was prepared to bar all refugees, “even orphans under age five.”
But on the issue of Syrian refugees, it was McCain being McCain.
He was clear that there could be security issues and there needed to be a vetting process before refugees were admitted, but for him it was a matter of his Christian faith. We are called, he said, “to love one another.”
When asked whether we should limit the refugees we accept to those who are Christians, he spoke clearly: "I don't think any child, whether they are Christian or whether they are atheist or whether they are Buddhist, that we should make a distinction," he said. "My belief is that all children are God's children."