Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump may have finally stepped over a line he can’t blur or move to his advantage simply by talking (or not talking) around it. While speaking in Iowa, he suggested that Muslims should be registered and that having Muslims wear some type of identification badge should be considered. Not only is the mere suggestion of taking such actions unconstitutional, it boldly smacks of the social segregation methods employed by the Nazis in pre-World War II Germany (and their later acquired lands), methods that made it easier for the Nazis to systematically eliminate its undesirables (read: Jews, Magyars, communists, gays, and the mentally impaired). And the identification badges are a page right out of the Third Reich’s marginalization of the Jews.
Yahoo News interviewed Donald Trump November 19 and among his remarks were considerations he described as “unthinkable,” things the United States might have to do with regard to terrorism and the growing threat of radical Islam. But if such a thing can be considered “unthinkable,” then why contemplate it? Apparently, the billionaire businessman and “I-don’t-have-anything-better-to-do” politician believes that it just might become necessary, especially since the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13 that left 130 dead and hundreds wounded.
From the posted interview:
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain 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.
“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
What should be looked at very, very carefully is the idea of creating a database filled with individuals of a certain religion. History is a good indicator as to what forms of oppression might arise should such a system be implemented — because the world has seen this type of governmentally enforced segregation before.
Back in the 1930s, after the Nazis democratically took control of the German government and quickly moved Adolf Hitler into position to effectively rule Germany as a dictator, people who were Jewish, used as scapegoats for Germany’s loss of economic status and its wars, were officially segregated, made to register with the government, their jobs eliminated and their businesses and homes taken from them, confiscated by the German government. Jewish houses of worship, synagogues, were closed, confiscated or sometimes burned to the ground. Jews were further segregated into walled-off and/or guarded communities called ghettoes. As a way to identify any member of the Jewish peoples (Judaism as a religion was conflated with ethnicity) when they ventured outside the ghettoes, yellow stars of David were by mandate sewn onto their clothing. Ultimately, the registration, along with forced segregation and the identification badges helped facilitate the what would become known as the “Final Solution,” the genocidal eradication of over 6 million European Jews.
Although modern politicians are too often referring to opponents as Nazis or certain programs they disagree with as Nazi-like, so often that eye-rolling and general dismissiveness prevails when the proper noun is used, there is no escaping the fact that Donald Trump’s suggestions — even as possible policy considerations — reek of Gestapo-esque jackboot polish. Placing Muslims in a federal database so the government can track them does have a Nazi ring to it. Forcing Muslims to wear identification badges invokes horrific comparisons to round-ups, legally enforced social ostracism, and, unavoidably, the Holocaust orchestrated under the ministrations of the Third Reich.
Saying that taking certain measures is “unthinkable” while considering those same measures is a ridiculous contradiction. Realistically, actually thinking about the implementation of a registration database or identification system warrants reflection on the implications and ramifications of such installments — and making certain that they never reach implementation status.
Besides, violating the civil rights of individuals via religious discrimination for national security reasons (always the go-to reason for such draconian measures) is unnecessary in that there are already safeguards in place for those individuals that really need monitoring or those that, for one reason or another, have become persons of interest by governments. And these safeguards are usually — but unfortunately not always — quite effective in pre-emptively thwarting those who exhibit or are known to have engaged in suspicious or dangerous activities. They’re called terrorist watch lists, no-fly lists, wanted lists, and warrants.
At present, Donald Trump leads all Republican presidential candidate hopefuls by 2.8 percentage points, according to the Real Clear Politics Average of polls to date. In the latest two polls conducted by Bloomberg and Public Policy Polling, Trump led his nearest contender, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, by 4 percent and 7 percent, respectively.