Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson warns that fanning fears about terrorism and immigration harken to Cold War-era red-scare tactics, saying "over-simplistic rhetoric" and "superficial appeals" may come at a cost "of who we are as a nation."
Speaking at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., Wednesday, Johnson's remarks appeared to take specific aim at Republican presidential candidates, CNN reports
Referencing the experience of his grandfather, Charles Johnson, as Fisk University's president in the 1950s at the height of the "red scare," having to battle accusations of communists on the faculty, Johnson decried public officials' heated rhetoric and tactics that can generate "fear, hate, suspicion, prejudice and government over-reach" — particularly toward terror threats, CNN reports.
"In this environment, the first impulse may be to suspect all Muslims living among us in this country are potential terrorists," Johnson said.
Risk is a reality in a free society, he argued, CNN reports.
"We can erect more walls, install more screening devices and make everybody suspicious of each other, but we should not do so at the cost of who we are as a nation of people who cherish our privacy, our religions, our freedom to speak, travel and associate and who celebrate our diversity and immigrant heritage," Johnson said.
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