November 18, 2015

It wasn’t a good start to the week in #Mapoli.  Issues of war and refugees brought out hyperbole when reason was needed.

First, the new media startup in town, New Boston Post, published an opinion piece by Editor Jennifer Braceras on the attacks in Paris.   She concluded with the following:

“Those who push the ideology of multiculturalism at the expense of assimilation are fully to blame for the blood on the streets of Paris — just as they will share blame for the anti-immigrant backlash that will inevitably follow from this horrific attack.”

After repeatedly being called out for this on twitter by Boston Magazine’s David Bernstein, the words “are fully to blame” were replaced with “share blame” though that very important change has not been noted online.

It is hard to imagine a seasoned analyst or scholar of the situation in Europe laying the blame “fully” at the feet of advocates of multiculturalism.

This is hyperbole 101: take a complicated situation, mix into it something you don’t much care for, and exaggerate the heck out of it.

Our second case of hyperbole overwhelming our reason is the reaction to Governor Baker’s pronouncements regarding Syrian refugees.

Both Professor Cunningham and Adam Reilly recounted the spiraling situation.   Professor Mo spent a good deal of time actually reading what Baker said in response to questions on whether he’d support bringing refugees to Massachusetts. 

Baker’s comments were a bit confusing. They seemed to suggest that he needed greater clarity from the feds and that he was shutting the door on refugees (a power commentators have noted repeatedly the Constitution doesn’t give to Governors).

But Reilly noted, “For the record, Baker didn’t actually say an unequivocal ‘no’ yesterday to when he was repeatedly asked if he supports a ban. But he never actually used the term himself.And in an exchange that lasted about three minutes, and was littered with confusing double negatives, it seemed clear that the reporters questioning Baker were more interested in discussing a possible ban than he was. “

So the Governor expressed unease regarding security and a desire for more information from the feds, concerns shared, in varying degrees by New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor, Senator Ed Markey and Congressmen Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating.  Senate President Stan Rosenberg declared he supported Baker and, later in the day yesterday, New York Senator—and the next Senate Democratic Leader—Charles Schumer declared a pause on accepting new Syrian refugees might be warranted.

No matter and too late. The Boston Globe editorial page had already pounced, lumping Baker into the same group as Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz.  Then Congressman Seth Moulton tweeted: “It’s a shame that Governor Baker doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge.”

From there, the pile on grew.

And all based on a hyperbolic overreaction to the Governor’s inelegantly phrased comments two days ago in what appears to be a somewhat confused, even aggressive back and forth with journalists.

Recall that candidate Charlie Baker in 2014 supported former rival Governor Deval Patrick’s call to house migrant children from the southern border in Massachusetts during his competitive race for the Corner Office.  

From the Globe at the time:

“All of the states, including Massachusetts, should be part of the effort to provide humanitarian relief for the unaccompanied children that have crossed the border,” Baker said, calling the crisis “heartbreaking.”

Baker said that federal officials need to provide details about the facility and an “absolute guarantee” that it would be temporary.”

Doesn’t sound like a person who can't appreciate the difference between refugees and their tormentors.  It does sound like someone who is looking for more information from federal officials who aren’t always forthcoming with clarity.

#Mapoli hyperbole, you’ve won the early part of the week.  Congratulations, I guess. 

Syrian refugees, seth moulton, Charlie Baker, New Boston Post

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