It’s been a wild, paranoid week here in the Heartland. Allow me to recap some of the highlights:
MONDAY: As expected, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback flung himself into the herd of Republican governors who reacted to last week’s terrorist attack in Paris by pledging not to allow their states to cooperate with the federal government in the resettlement of refugees from Syria.
“We cannot allow an influx of Syrian refugees, without any meaningful security checks, while ISIS is promising to infiltrate the refugee process,” Brownback said in a statement.
Influx? Eight refugees from Syria have been resettled in Kansas since the country’s civil war began in 2011. The federal government was planning to pick up the pace and admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, five times as many as it has allowed over the past four years. So the great Kansas influx would maybe amount to 40 Syrian refugees a year, tops. Who, by the way, must pass enough “meaningful” security checks to practically qualify for sainthood.
TUESDAY: A committee of Kansas lawmakers found a home-grown threat to worry about — same-sex couples taking in foster children.
Yes, even in these post Obergefell v. Hodges days — or perhaps because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage — some legislators on the Special Committee on Foster Care Adequacy fretted that children sent to live with qualified same-sex couples might grow up feeling deprived.
Like a safe home with adults who love you and care for you? That’s what foster kids are missing. And there is zero reason to think same-sex couples can’t provide that environment as well as heterosexual couples.
Who needs new fears when your elected representatives are still clinging to old ones?
WEDNESDAY: Over to Missouri, where Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s wishy-washy statement Monday calling on the federal government to use the “strongest possible safeguards” when screening potential refugees satisfied no one.
Democrats wanted a strong statement from the governor welcoming displaced Syrians to Missouri. Republicans craved a Brownbackian sort of stance.
Rep. Mike Moon, a Republican from Ash Grove, decided it was time for action. He demanded a special session of the General Assembly to “put a stop to the potential Islamization of Missouri.”
Missourians have good cause to worry about floods, tornadoes, crumbling highways and sex scandals involving state legislators. The Islamization of the Show-Me State does not even move the threat needle, unless you’re like Moon and harbor a deep, irrational suspicion of all Muslims.
ONGOING: Was it only a week ago that the biggest worry in both states was not Syrian refugees but student protests on college campuses?
It was, and the events set in motion by the uproar at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus continue to make news, with interesting discussions in Missouri and Kansas about the collision of free speech and political correctness.
By midweek, according to The Associated Press, Kansas lawmakers were getting worked up over plans announced by the University of Kansas to require “inclusion and belonging” training for students, faculty and staffers. Some legislators saw a plot to stifle conservative thought.
Personally, I think people across the spectrum risk becoming overly aggrieved these days. In the best scenario, a quality inclusion training would teach respect for different points of view.
But mention inclusion, belonging or the “d” word — diversity — and you wave a red flag in front of lawmakers.
“I think we will definitely have a role, and we will be watching,” Rep. John Rubin, a Republican from Shawnee, said of the proposed training at KU.
Now that is ominous.