The xenophobic rhetoric emanating from the GOP has grown louder and more vociferous in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, with the party’s presidential candidates leading the charge to cast suspicion on Syrian refugees and American Muslims.
But it was Donald Trump, of course, who cranked things up to full-on Nazi levels on Thursday, when he suggested he’d be open to surveillance of the American Muslim community frighteningly reminiscent of the treatment of Jews in the Third Reich.
In an interview with Yahoo News, the Republican presidential candidate said the U.S. would have to “do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago,” and refused to rule out warrantless searches, registering Muslims in a national database, or even requiring them to carry a special form of identification.
In that interview, Trump didn’t explicitly say he favored such policies, but later in the day he doubled down, clarifying to NBC News that he would “certainly implement” a database system to track Muslims in the U.S., and more. “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he said.
When NBC repeatedly asked him to explain the difference between his proposal and the registration of Jews in Nazi Germany, Trump’s only answer was: “You tell me.”
The Republican front-runner is clearly looking to cash in on his base’s suspicion of American Muslims, who numbered at about 2.6 million as of the 2010 census. In successive statements Monday and Tuesday, he proposed shutting down mosques — not all mosques, mind you, just the ones where “some really bad things are happening.”
A survey by Public Policy Polling found that the idea of forcibly closing down Muslim religious institutions resonated with 27 percent of Republican primary voters. Only 38 percent were opposed to this measure, and 35 percent were unsure.
American Muslims aren’t the only ones Trump wants to persecute; he’s not a big fan of Syrian refugees, either. In his interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday, Trump made a series of erroneous statements about the vetting process for refugees, claiming that “we take everybody” (false) and adding that if he becomes president, “they’re going out.”
Of course, he’s not the only Republican presidential candidate eager to deny a safe haven to the victims of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad, based on the fear that ISIS terrorists might be hiding among them. Also on Thursday, Ben Carson compared barring Syrian refugees to protecting one’s children from rabid dogs.
(Not for nothing, in Arab culture, calling someone a dog is among the most severe insults. Carson, whose own advisers find it impossible for him to absorb one iota of foreign-policy knowledge, probably didn’t know this, but then it might not have stopped him from saying it if he had.)
Carson, too, painted an inaccurate picture of the refugee-vetting process, saying, “We have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are.” Such mechanisms already exist. In fact, entering as a refugee is literally the most difficult way to get into this country, and can take years. In the past 35 years, refugees have been responsible for precisely zero terror attacks on U.S. soil, and of the 745,000 refugees resettled here since 9/11, only two have been arrested on terrorism charges
Ted Cruz, meanwhile, continues to promote his plan to bar Syrian Muslim refugees from the U.S. and only admit those who can prove that they are Christians, because Christians are being persecuted by ISIS. The radical Islamist terror organization is also persecuting Yazidis, Shiite Muslims, and insufficiently zealous Sunni Muslims, but Cruz seems rather less concerned about them.