Josh Sager – December 2015
© Free to print, distribute, or quote, with attribution
Yesterday, the Donald Trump campaign announced that Trump supports banning all Muslim travel into the United States. Under a Trump presidency, no Muslim will be able to immigrate to the United States or even obtain a visa to visit our nation. If this weren’t heinous and unconstitutional enough, Trump clarified that this would also apply to all AMERICAN Muslims who leave the country and want to return.
Yes, you heard that right. If an American citizen who happens to be Muslim decides to travel to Europe to do some sightseeing, visit family, or study abroad while in college, Donald Trump would bar them reentry into their own country, functionally strip them of their citizenship, and orphan them in a non-state status. In the most extreme reading of this policy, an American soldier who happens to be Muslim and deployed abroad (up to 0.6% of USAF personnel are Muslim) would never be allowed to return to the country he has worked to protect.
Needless to say, any reading of this policy is horrifically unconstitutional (violating the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments) and a violation of basic human decency. While comparing American politicians to Nazis is overused and almost always wrong, this policy is almost exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews before they began the Holocaust—they tried to ethnically cleanse their nation by making life hell for the Jews, forcing them to emigrate and denying them reentry.
This most recent anti-Muslim proposal by Trump is piled up on top of several other fascist anti-Muslim policies. In the last month alone, Trump has proposed shutting down mosques, registering all Muslims, performing bulk-surveillance on the Muslim community, torturing accused Islamist terrorists, and murdering the families of those deemed guilty of Islamist terrorism.
These policies are not just evil and unconstitutional—even giving them voice is dangerous and stupid. The greatest rhetorical ally to Islamist extremist recruiters is the idea that the USA is virulently anti-Muslim and is on the verge of committing mass crimes against their community. This narrative is bolstered whenever the USA accidentally kills Muslims abroad as collateral damage, tortures Muslims accused of crimes, or publically mulls the possibility of passing discriminatory laws. Every time a major politician in the USA supports one of these things, it is a rhetorical win to the extremists, as they will have another tool with which to convince fence-sitting Muslims to take the full step into radicalization. At the same time, the idea that this type of discrimination has public support undermines the moderate majority of Muslims in the USA and makes it far harder for us to work with them to prevent radicalization in the future.
After making these policy suggestions, one would hope that Trump’s public support would crater and his candidacy would rapidly die. Unfortunately, the exact opposite has happened, and the nationalists/anti-Muslim bigots have rallied behind Trump and given him a 15% (and growing) lead over both Cruz and Carson, who are tied for second place (RCP averages, 12/8/15). The GOP primary base is as rabidly anti-Muslim as Trump and, apparently, will only increase their support for Trump as he suggests such disturbing policies.
Fascism doesn’t happen in a vacuum because of a single powerful leader. It may be the right-authoritarian extreme, but it is usually brought about through a populist swell of ethno-nationalists. In the last century, we saw this with the Hitler in Germany, with Franco in Spain, and with Mussolini in Italy. These racist autocrats were brought into power by a ground-swell of extremists populism which allowed a highly-motivated mob of nationalists to completely overwhelm the rational and moderate populations.
In the coming election, sane and moderate Americans MUST align against these xenophobic extremists and vote against any candidate who signs onto this rhetoric. Hopefully, enough GOP primary voters will see reason and eliminate the candidates who have supported these bigoted policies (Trump and Carson are the worst offenders, followed by Cruz and Huckabee), but I am not optimistic about this. Barring a GOP primary upset, Democrats and moderates must get out to vote in the general election and deliver a resounding defeat to the fascist right—we must all get behind the Democrat, even if she is the center-right corporatist Hillary Clinton, and vote en mass to repudiate this type of racism. Not voting is simply not an option when the stakes are this high.