Ben Carson and Donald Trump took their anti-Muslim rhetoric to a new level Thursday. In response to the attack in Paris, Ben Carson likened Muslim refugees to a rabid dog. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump said he thought all American Muslims should be required to register and carry special IDs. This made Jeb Bush’s call for ground troops in look tame. It also makes us less safe.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric has reached a fever pitch after last Friday’s attack in Paris. Republicans ceased the opportunity to make political hay out of tragedy, Trump included. Earlier this week, Trump said on “Morning Joe” that he would consider shutting down Mosques. Thursday in an interview with Yahoo, Trump outlined the “unthinkable” security measures including a national data base he believes will be necessary to monitor America’s Muslims. “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said.
Later Thursday, at an event in Newton, Iowa, a reporter asked Trump to expand on his data base remarks. Specifically, Trump was asked if he was proposing a national data base for Muslims. Trump responded saying “I would certainly implement that; absolutely.” Trump went further: “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems.” Trump made it clear he would not rule out a mandatory data base and warrantless surveillance of American Muslims. He said they will be signed up at different places. “They have to,” Trump asserted.
Trump tried to walk the comments back on Twitter saying it was the reporter who suggested a registry. Audio of the remarks, however, shoe that is not the case.
These shocking comments harken back to Germany in the 1930s when all people of Jewish ancestry were required to register and wear a red “J” on their clothing so they could be identified in public. Later, the government used that registry to round up nearly all Jews in Europe and put them in camps where over 6 million were killed.
Ben Carson, not wanting to lose the race to the bottom, compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs an interview with reporters in Alabama Thursday. “If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood,” Carson said “you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog. It doesn’t mean you hate all dogs, but you’re putting your intellect into motion.”
Carson could have used a more appropriate analogy to describe refugees—most who are women and children. He could have said something like “if you see a masked guy with an AK47 running around your neighborhood…” Instead, he deliberately chose to use the term “rabid dogs.”
Reaction was immediate and fierce. The Council of American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights group, pushed back against the inflammatory language from Republican presidential candidates. Particularly, the group condemned Ben Carson for comparing Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs” and Donald Trump’s call for requiring American Muslims to register and carry special IDs. They called Trump’s proposal “Islamophobic and unconstitutional.”
Jeb Bush said: “I find it abhorrent that Donald Trump is suggesting we register people.” Ted Cruz, who earlier said that the U.S. should only allow Christian refugees to enter the country, demurred when asked about Trump’s comments. Other Republican candidates, however, were generally silent about the comments.
Meanwhile, sound bites of these remarks are being used in recruitment videos by ISIL and other extremist groups. This hate talk by politicians and some religious leaders reinforce the premise that America hates Muslims.
The world found Hitler’s registry abhorrent. It also found abhorrent what the United States did to its own citizens of Japanese descent. In World War II we not only made Japanese-Americans register, we rounded them up and put them into camps. Many lost the homes, property, and personal possessions while they were interred. Our own history makes comments like Trump’s totally believable because we have a record of civil rights violations.
The most shocking thing about these comments is the lack of rebuke from Republicans. Except for Bush, Republican leaders and elected officials have been silent. Instead, all Republican governors have banned refugees from their states. That is because this hate talk is popular with the Republican base. Republican voters generally agree with these positions. That is why Trump is still on top in the polls.
The tragic part of this is that it makes all American less safe. It encourages those who want to destroy us. It gives them a reason to hate us. Hate mongering is good for votes. It is also good for undertakers.