Editorials

Cooper cops out on Syrian refugees issue

Roy Cooper announces he is running for Governor at an event at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC on Oct. 12, 2015.
Roy Cooper announces he is running for Governor at an event at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC on Oct. 12, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

It’s not surprising that leading Republicans in North Carolina would buy into the woefully exaggerated notion that the United States is putting itself at risk of terrorism by accepting Syrian refugees. Sadly that’s the knee-jerk reaction these days in the GOP dominated by its right wing, with leading presidential contender Donald Trump even advocating deportation of 11 million immigrants now in the country without proper documentation.

But it is surprising and disappointing that Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general and the leading Democratic contender for next year’s governor’s race, would take a timid stance on the issue of Syrian immigrants. He says he wants to “pause refugee entries to make sure we have the most effective screening process possible so our humanitarian efforts are not hijacked.”

Cooper knows better, and his position smacks of playing-it-safe politics. Syrian refugees, and only 59 have so far settled in North Carolina, are in most cases women and children trying to survive outside a tyrannical, crazy regime, and they’re running away from terrorists who would like to kill them.

President Obama has calmly made these points time and again, and mainstream Democrats and Republicans know he’s right. But GOP presidential candidates have chomped after this red-meat issue to appeal to their right-wing base. Roy Cooper’s not going to corral that base anyway. He doesn’t need to pander or to be timid about doing the right thing.

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