ISIL’s still not the varsity team, President Barack Obama said Sunday, but if Republicans running for president and in Congress continue to respond to attacks by playing off fears, they’re doing the terrorists’ work for them.

A Republican reaction that’s tried to block refugees from entering the country—and members of the media whom he blamed for lacking perspective in coverage over the last week—gives into the fear like they want, helps them recruit, and lets a group of people who’d have no hope of actually defeating American forces on the battlefield win anyway.

Upending American policy and talking about Christian-Muslim tests for entry that he said accept ISIL’s terms of a religious war will increase the threat for more attacks.

“Prejudice and discrimination helps ISIL and undermines our national security,” Obama said.

Even as Obama credited the group also known as the Islamic State for the Paris attacks, and for the first time publicly, for taking down the Russian passenger jet in Egypt, Obama repeatedly spoke about the limitations of the terrorist network he two years ago he referred to as the “JV team” —a remark that his critics still cite as evidence that he underestimates the threat.

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