Our editorial: Ted Cruz is wrong on Syrian refugees

The downside of having so many presidential candidates in the GOP field is that it increases the likelihood that one of them — or several — will say something so offensive that it taints everyone else. Ted Cruz is the latest.

The Texas senator, who has been rising in the polls, said in Kalamazoo this week the United States should not take in Syrian refugees — at least not Muslim ones — because of the risk a terrorist might hide among them.

What a softball for those who want to paint Republicans as intolerant and out of touch on immigration policy.

Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is among those calling on the State Department to raise the cap on the number of refugees admitted to the United States, and wants them to settle in his state.

The governor understands the economic boost Michigan would get from a surge of new immigrants; many, if not most of them, highly educated and skilled.

Under the right policies, they could help repopulate Detroit and other shrinking urban areas, filling the many vacant spaces in the cities and rebuilding blighted homes and businesses.

More important, these are human beings fleeing genocide. That’s true whether they are Muslim or Christian, or from other ethnic and religious groups being slaughtered by the Islamic State butchers.

Cruz’s statement is the same as someone saying during World War II that the door should be shut to Jewish refugees because the Germans might slip in a spy. And of course, the door often was shut, with tragic consequences.

The State Department absolutely should be sensitive to the terrorist threat. Screening should be extensive. The process of getting to the United States can take a year and a half. That should be enough time to do background checks and intense individual interviews.

What Cruz is missing is that terrorist groups don’t have to physically infiltrate the country to do damage. They are having success using the Internet to radicalize American citizens for attacks on their own country.

Cruz is the latest GOP candidate to insult Muslims. Dr. Ben Carson, a native Detroiter, said a Muslim-American should not be president because he or she may be more loyal to his or her faith than to the Constitution. This from a man who has infused his campaign message with his personal religious beliefs.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called Muslims “uncorked animals” in August and suggested Islam breeds violence.

The GOP should just hang out a sign that says, “No Muslim-American Votes Wanted.”

The shame here is that Muslim-Americans should be a demographic group that is receptive to Republican messages.

They are strongly family oriented. They are also highly entrepreneurial. And they have watched for nearly seven years as the foreign policy of the current Democratic administration has wreaked havoc across their former homelands.

Fear mongering and exploiting prejudices will not win this election for Republicans. Capturing a few votes from Muslim-Americans by showing sensitivity to both their religion and their concern for friends and family abroad might.