Here is what Ben Carson said last Thursday at a campaign event in Mobile, Alabama. The topic was the surge of unvetted Muslim refugees from Syria.
"If there's a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog. And you're probably going to put your children out of the way. That doesn't mean that you hate all dogs.
"But you're going to put your intellect into motion and you're thinking, 'How do I protect my children at the same time? ... I'm going to call the humane society and hopefully they can come and take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'
"We have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are. Quite frankly, who are the people who want to come in and hurt us and destroy us.”
Carson quite predictably has been beaten around the head and shoulders for these comments. But clearly it is just an analogy. He is not saying Muslim jihadists who want to blow us up are rabid dogs, he is saying they are like rabid dogs. Nor is he saying all or even most Muslims are like rabid dogs; no, he is only applying the analogy to the Muslim jihadists who want to kill us.
Now a rabid dog is a threat to health and to life, to the dog who has it and to whomever he bites. Rabies is a virus that affects the brain, which in turn, according to WebMD, can lead to “extreme behavioral changes” and lead them to “hide in dark places” and “bite or snap at any form of stimulus.” Rabies kills 50,000 human beings a year, which is why WebMD says “there is good reason that the word ‘rabies’ evokes fear in people.”
Now a “phobia” is an irrational fear of something. But there is nothing irrational about our “fear” of rabies. It is perfectly understandable, perfectly defensible, and something which requires no apology. And it should lead rational people to take precautions. No parent wants a rabid dog to bite any member of his family.
In a similar way, embracing the radical tenets of Islam affects the way a Muslim thinks, and can lead him to fatally attack completely innocent victims without any provocation. After all, his god tells him to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (Sura 9:5). There are 132 dead bodies in Paris as grim evidence of the lethality of this spiritual virus.
It makes absolutely perfect sense that rational Americans would want to keep anyone infected with this virus out of our country.
The great problem is that we have no way to identify the Muslims who are carriers of the jihadi virus from the ones who aren’t. Which means in a world run by rational people, we must proceed with an abundance of caution. This isn’t “Islamophobia,” an irrational fear of Islam, it is “Islamo-realism,” a sober appraisal of the threat we face.
This is why, correctly in my view, Senators Cruz and Paul have proposed legislation that would immediately suspend immigration from any country with a significant jihadist presence.
The fault does not lie with us, it lies with Muslim jihadists who have made it clear that they wish to destroy us. If innocent Muslims are turned away because we must protect ourselves from the non-innocent Muslims, the blame for that must be laid squarely at the feet of Muslim jihadists, not at the feet of those who love their country and their families and want to protect them.
To carry Carson’s analogy just one step further, imagine an animal rights group wants to bring homeless dogs from all over the world to America. They exhort us to open our hearts and our homeland to them and make a home for them here.
But then we discover that there will be some percentage of these dogs who are rabid, and will kill our children if they bite them. Now imagine that when we insist they screen out the rabid dogs before they are allowed entry, we are told that’s impossible, that there’s no way to vet (pun intended) every homeless canine that comes to America.
To which our response rightly would be we simply cannot allow that project to move forward at all. There is no way we can allow millions of animals to run loose in our country without knowing which of them pose danger to our neighborhoods.
Then imagine when we complain about letting unvetted rabid dogs into the country, we are accused of being cold-hearted dogophobic haters. No, we would say, we don’t hate dogs at all. We just love our children.
And so Dr. Carson’s analogy, if we can step back for a moment from the heated, hyperbolic rhetoric, may be a better analogy than it might first have seemed.
And certainly Sen. Cruz and Sen. Paul are right to want to suspend immigration by Muslims from countries which we know are heavily infected with the jihadi virus.
Bottom line: Since we have no way of identifying which followers of Muhammad are infected and which aren’t, we must be careful with them all.