There aren’t really any words.
“We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant Al Qaeda or ISIS presence,” the Texas senator said in a statement. “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
It’s a mark of the wild danger howling through the country that this kind of loose and dangerous talk drips easily from a major candidate. What happened in Brussels is a horror, and it is the kind we’ll be living with for many years. There is no easy solution (more on this forthwith), but there is also no question that this kind of weaponized rhetoric only serves the cruel forces of Islamic militancy.
What’s clear is that Ted Cruz’s major problem with America is that it is, well, America. This is clear in a further part of his statement.
“The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we are at an end,” he said. “Our country is at stake.”
The “voluntarily surrendering” is inflammatory and reality-ignoring and dangerous enough (were it true, you’d think Cruz would have the stones to pursue impeachment). It’s the second part that really captures his whole program: he has nothing but contempt for the Enlightenment values the country was founded upon. He is directly saying that since our country is at stake, everything that makes America what it is should be thrown over the side. It’s a sneering yawp at modernity itself.
He means it, too. He can’t really believe that ISIS is an existential threat. But the march of progress is an existential threat to his perverted value system. The country is at stake only because atavistic reactionaries like Ted Cruz aren’t in complete control anymore. He wants a grim mix of plutocracy and theocracy, and fears that he won’t be able to get it. Attacks in Europe give him the opportunity to promote his real program: the erasure of post-Puritan progress.
Combined with Trump’s lunatic ravings about borders and shutting it down “until we figure out what’s going on” (an off-the cuff remark that was made into a somehow-viable policy), it is clear that the GOP has zero interest in the threat of radical Islam other than its use for them in their endless culture war. Everything is a symbol, a fetish object for their retrograde obsessions, and the deaths of dozens of Europeans is merely a cudgel to win the next battle.