The Slatest

Jeb Bush: U.S. Efforts on Syrian Refugees Should Focus on Christians

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at Dennis Albaugh’s Classic Car Barn during the Polk County GOP Annual Summer Sizzle event August 13, 2015 in Ankeny, Iowa.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidates seem to all agree on one thing: the White House must reconsider its plan for the U.S. to take in Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks. But for Jeb Bush, an exception could be made for Christians.  

“As it relates to the refugees, I think we need to do thorough screening and take a limited number.  But, ultimately, the best way to deal with the refugee crisis is to create safe zones inside of Syria, so that people don’t risk their lives and you don’t have what will be a national security challenge both for our country and Europe of screening,” Bush said on CNN. “In addition to that, Jake, I would say that there are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now.  They will be either executed or imprisoned either by Assad or by ISIS.  And I think we should have—we should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.”

When CNN’s Jake Tapper wondered how the United States could know which ones were Christians, Bush said it was no big deal. “We do that all the time,” Bush said. “I think we need to be obviously very, very cautious. This also calls to mind the need to protect our borders, our southern border particularly.”

Ben Carson, meanwhile, said on Fox News that President Obama’s move to allow Syrian refugees in the country amounted to a “suspension of intellect.”

“Bringing people into this country from that area of the world I think is a huge mistake, because why wouldn’t they infiltrate them with people who are ideologically opposed to us?” Carson said. “It would be foolish for them not to do that.”

Carson said the reason why he could reach that conclusion is because he has a “big frontal lobe” that allowed him to think critically. “The reason the human brain has these big frontal lobes as opposed to other animals is because we can engage in rational thought-processing,” he said. “Animals, on the other hand, have big brain stems and rudimentary thinking because they react. We don’t have to just react, we can think.”

The Carson interview showed how the retired neurosurgeon struggles with foreign policy questions, notes the Washington Post. Carson, for example, couldn’t name a single country or leader he thinks should be part of an international coalition to combat ISIS.