Rex Marks the Spot on Genocide

Rex Marks the Spot on Genocide

August 01, 2017

Under Barack Obama, a terrorist probably had an easier time getting into America than a Syrian Christian! This "has got to change," Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) argued in a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. And thanks to President Trump, it is.

In just six short months, the number of Christian refugees resettling in the U.S. is soaring. After years of discriminating against a population that poses the smallest risk to America, President Obama's pattern of prejudice is finally falling by the wayside. CNSNews reports that there's been a massive sea change in the policy under Trump, who is determined to let persecuted minorities into the country -- with enough safeguards to keep radical Islamists from gaming the system.

So far, his system seems to be working. Christians and other non-Muslims are no longer getting the short end of the refugee stick under Trump. "In February, Trump's first full month in office, the Christian-Muslim ratio was 41 percent to 50 percent. By April the balance had changed, with 54 percent Christians to 35 percent Muslims. In July, the margin of difference was even larger -- 62 percent Christians compared to 34 percent Muslims." After years of being stuck at the back of the line, Christians are finally getting the relief they deserve. And with Governor Sam Brownback tapped to take the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom job, the good news for our suffering brothers and sisters is just beginning.

Unfortunately for the president, this progress had been clouded by rumors that the Trump administration was dropping the "genocide" designation for ISIS's treatment of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. Turns out, that's exactly what they were: rumors. Republicans Marco Rubio (Fla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Ben Sasse (Nebr.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), and John Cornyn (Texas) had written to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking for an explanation.

"Next week marks three years since the Islamic State waged a brutal offensive in Iraq," they pointed out, "laying siege to Mt. Sinjar and overtaking Iraq's largest Christian city, Qaraqosh, and murdering, enslaving, displacing and otherwise terrorizing thousands of religious minorities whose community's roots in these lands go back to antiquity. The full measure of human suffering exacted against these innocents is incalculable.

As we approach this solemn anniversary, and with it persistent questions regarding the long-term viability of these ancient communities, it is vital that we have clarity regarding the policy of this administration, specifically as it relates to the most egregious of all human rights atrocities, genocide."

Tillerson's office wasted no time setting the record straight. "I can tell you that that is categorically false," fired back State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert. "We have looked through documents ourselves. The word 'genocide' is in fact in there. That has not been removed." Nor should it be. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to John Kerry agreed that terrorist and terrorist-supporting countries should be held accountable for targeting religious groups. "When we look at Iraq and we look at what has happened to some of the Yazidis, some of the Christians... Secretary [Tillerson] believes, and he firmly believes, that that was genocide." It was an important clarification from Tillerson, who is a major figure in restoring America's reputation as a voice for the vulnerable.

For Americans, who've spent the better part of the decade watching Barack Obama roll out the welcome mat to everyone but religious minorities, the Trump administration is a breath of fresh air. We look forward to seeing what's next for the president who's eager -- not only to put a spotlight on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East -- but to do something about it.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Also in the August 1 Washington Update:

Nominees Enter Trump's Courts with Praise

This Isn't a Day Care. It's a University!

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