Donald Trump has founded his short-lived political career on xenophobic fearmongering and determined ignorance. He represents the worst aspects of American politics, and yes, the worst aspects of ourselves. But it is truly astonishing to see how quickly he can shatter our expectations and reach lows we haven’t seen for decades, as Trump told the media that he would institute “unprecedented surveillance” of American Muslims – just days after he announced he wanted to monitor and close mosques, even though he’s previously stated that “religious freedom” is his top priority.
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule. Certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. We’re going to have to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.
You may recall how Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the Hutu Rwandan Patriotic Front all used ethnoreligious ID cards to segregate and discriminate against oppressed minorities, and to differentiate victims in the middle of a pogrom. The very idea of introducing anything resembling that in America is an affront to everything our nation stands for. The idea that he’s even considering a national database of Muslims and closing mosques, and handing out Muslim ID cards is utterly reprehensible. This kind of discrimination is exactly what breeds terrorism. Trump’s plan will virtually ensure terrorist attacks on American soil as ISIS reaches out to disgruntled Muslims. The idea that Trump wants to remake our nation, the so-called “land of the free,” explicitly into the “land of the free white Christians” shows not only staggering racism but a very dangerous ignorance regarding American demographics.
It is absolutely disgusting how quickly American conservatives have shed their values and their courage in the face of terror. While France, which actually endured the attacks, is opening their homes to even more Syrian refugees, Republican governors have already turned away two Syrian families who spent the last three years being “vetted” in Jordan. Now Trump is demanding apartheid-style religious profiling and strengthen the already excessive domestic surveillance program? There could not be a more absurd overreaction to a terrorist attack that didn’t even happen on our soil. It is hard to fathom how one could even implicitly endorse such a program, but apparently this abrasive rabble-rousing demagogue is channeling Mussolini harder than we thought.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.