As we've reported, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's willingness to accept Syrian refugees has resulted in significant push-back.
Among those who vehemently disagree with the policy is former Congressman Tom Tancredo, a onetime candidate for president and Colorado governor known nationwide for his advocacy of strict immigration policies.
Tancredo actively supports a Facebook page entitled "Stop Hick Say No to Refugees," as well as a fledgling petition drive with a similar moniker: "STOP Hickenlooper's Refugee Plan: Support Our Lawmakers" — specifically the more than thirty legislators that have signed a letter calling on Hickenlooper to "convey a strong message of caution to the federal government."
But Tancredo has gotten considerably more attention for a different post — a meme that juxtaposes Hickenlooper's refugee statement with a graphic image of bodies inside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, where more than eighty people died this past Friday.
Even though he acknowledges that some people have been upset by the photograph, Tancredo is completely unapologetic.
"It is simply the truth," he says.
Here's the meme. Warning: The image may disturb some readers.
According to Tancredo, he saw the photo shared in uncensored form in numerous locations, including the Drudge Report — and although he concedes that many news operations have since pixilated the image, he didn't consider doing likewise.
Moreover, he thinks there may be a political component to the negative reaction he's received thus far.
Marijuana Deals Near You
"I can remember seeing a photo of a three-year-old child that had washed up on the shores during the massive influx of refugees to Greece," he says, referring to images shared by outlets such as CNN in September. "And nobody seemed too upset about that. But, of course, they were trying their best to use those pictures to increase sympathy for the refugees. The idea was, 'Look how horrible it is to try and keep people out of Europe. Children are drowning.' And they were, and it is horrible — but it's a fact. And this is a fact, too, which makes it somewhat hypocritical that people are upset."
On Facebook, he adds, those who support his decision to post the photo have been responding to critics with a single word: "Truth."
He explains his opposition to welcoming Syrian refugees like so:
"Everyone, including most of the administration, agree that there's no way we can guarantee that ISIS won't be infiltrated into the country with the refugee program," he says. "And when they start talking about rigorous background work, it's all b.s. You can't do background checks on people from Syria and so many people in the Middle East because all of the structures of state have been destroyed. There are no documents to prove where a person is from or was born. It's stupid. If a refugee claims he's lost all his documents in a bombing, we'd have to look back and try to figure out if a bomb fell on this day in this place, and it's not difficult to construct a scenario around that. And documents are for sale throughout the Middle East."
Recent polls show a large majority of Americans see an influx of Syrian refugees as creating a national security threat, Tancredo points out — which is why he considers fighting against Hickenlooper's approach to be "a 'damn right' issue. It's like when I was in office and I'd tell people about a bill I was planning to introduce, they'd say, 'Damn right.' That's why Paul Ryan and the Congress should attach a rider to a bill saying that no funds will be used to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S. — and if Obama vetoes it, then they should shut down the government. And we can win. That's why this is the perfect fight — because people understand."
Closer to home, Tancredo uses a familiar phrase in criticizing Hickenlooper, arguing that he's "creating a sanctuary state for terrorists."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
He adds: "Posting a meme that is somewhat graphic is meant to bring the point home about these people and what they're really all about. There's no reason to try and sugarcoat this. They are savages and they are intent on the destruction of the West. Why should we not try to portray that in a way that will get people's attention?"
One more thing: Tancredo says his post has gotten over 20,000 hits so far — and he may share more memes like this one. In his words, "i'm not necessarily done."