Sen. Pete Kelly calls Syrian refugees an 'invading horde'

There must be seven or eight Republican politicians in Alaska who haven't shared panic-stricken statements about the Syrian refugee crisis, pretending to know what's really going on.

What's wrong with these slackers? They aren't doing their part to create hysteria or display the depth of their understanding of world events.

They need to follow the lead of Fairbanks Sen. Pete Kelly, who once modestly said, "Sometimes I think I know too much."

These aren't refugees, says Kelly. They are invaders, trying to install sharia law from Skagway to Shishmaref.

"Europe is under invasion and Paris is the first city to fall under full attack. We in the U.S. are next and the Quisling who has opened wide our gates to the invading horde is our very own president," says the man who knows too much.

Kelly, who is not above lecturing others on religion, directed his Facebook post at Gov. Bill Walker, instructing him to set Obama straight about the real purpose of these invaders. Kelly equates Obama with Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian president who collaborated with the Nazis.

"No amount of romanticizing will turn these people into 'huddled masses yearning to be free.' They are the vanguard of sharia law and they are dangerous. In an interview you said you hadn't given the idea of standing against the transplant much thought. That's OK. Things are moving quickly and who would have thought a U.S. president would put you in this position. But now you know. Get your bearings and make a stand," Kelly orders Walker.


Before seeing Kelly's Facebook post, I thought it was just people spending too much time watching Fox News who are losing all sense of perspective about the situation in Syria and have proven themselves unable to discern the relative importance of this threat, compared to all the other dangers faced by the nation. But panic and fear finds a ready audience among people who think that the louder they shout, the more rational they become.

So far, six of the Paris attackers have been identified as Europeans who traveled to Syria and back. There are unconfirmed reports that one of the men was from Syria.

It might be good to remember that the attackers on Sept. 11, 2001, came from our friend Saudi Arabia. The Tsarnaevs came from Chechnya and learned radical ways in the U.S. The alleged leader of the Paris attacks was a Belgian national of Moroccan descent.

We've had people from many nations come to America and spout nonsense and stir up trouble, even some from Ireland.

I don't really know what level of danger the country faces from Syrian refugees, fleeing a country where more than 200,000 people have died and the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II is unfolding. But I have seen no reputable reports classifying them as invaders.

There is some degree of danger, no doubt, about who might slip in as a refugee, but there is a process of checking on people before they are allowed into the United States. The vetting process will be made more stringent in light of the national debate.

The House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday in record time, hoping to keep anyone with evil intentions out of the United States. Good luck with that. There are lots of potential terrorists from many countries for the nation to deal with and we have lots of homegrown criminals already.

I wonder if this overblown rhetoric is the attitude that preceded the internment of Japanese during World War II. The speed of the news today is far faster, however, able to infect the entire country in a flash.

The current wave of paranoia does seem to be akin to the 2002 sensationalized media coverage that had everyone worried about SARS or the Ebola panic of a year ago. It's easy to overreact. We've become experts at it thanks to constant practice, habituated to go to DEFCON 4 any time the right words flash across the screen, even in far-off Alaska.

It would behoove all of us, no matter how much we think we know, to think this through a bit.

Maybe we'd realize that most of the fathers, mothers and children fleeing bombs aren't the scary people we've been told they are. Maybe we should remember most of us were once strangers in this land too.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.

Dermot Cole

Former ADN columnist Dermot Cole is a longtime reporter, editor and author.