On Thursday night, an NBC reporter gave Donald Trump a chance to back away from his alarmingly proto-fascist proposals to close mosques, increase surveillance on American Muslims, and issue special IDs to identify Muslim-Americans. But Donald Trump did what Donald Trump does- doubling down and plunging deeper into the abyss, saying that he would forcibly register the 5 to 12 million Muslim-Americans in a government database: “I would certainly implement that — absolutely.” At this point, he’s gone beyond simple racebaiting and rabble-rousing and into a realm of politics that ends very badly.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party of Germany forcibly registered all German Jews and monitored them – before driving them into ghettos and to the gas chambers, leading to the deaths of millions. Joseph Stalin and the USSR forcibly registered and monitored ethnic minorities before resettling them through brutal mass deportations, leading to the deaths of millions. Apartheid South Africa used registration and ID cards to oppress and subdue the black majority. At this point, Trump has playfully endorsed forced registration, special ID cards, and mass deportation of illegal immigrants – and that’s why this circus isn’t funny anymore. A reporter even asked Trump straight-up how his policy differed from Nazi Germany’s, and Trump replied only with “You tell me.”
Meaning it’s not. While nobody is accusing Trump of genocidal intentions, his words display a nascent sense white supremacy and undercurrent of racism that indicates he has little regard for the well-being or dignity of nonwhites. It’s a horrendous trait in a candidate running for presidency of one of the world’s great cultural kaleidoscopes, a wonderful merger of peoples and cultures from across the world that makes our nation unique. Trump represents the last gasp of a social order sliding into obscurity, the thrashing death throes of angry white men terrified of losing the privilege that accompanies their skin pigmentation. His idle proposals are an affront to everything our nation stands for. Muslim Americans deserve a place in our society as much as anybody else, and in these times of fear and uncertainty, we must fight to ensure the rights of all Americans are protected – for once some of us lose them, it’s only a matter of time before we all do.
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.