Wait, all Muslims? Yes, all Muslims:
Donald Trump evoked outrage from across the political spectrum Monday by calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., a proposal that taps into voter anxiety about the recent spate of terrorist attacks yet likely runs afoul of religious freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. “It is obvious to anybody the hatred [among Muslims] is beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said. “Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” His campaign said he would keep the ban intact “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” including the facts around the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., last week. Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S. citizen, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, a legal immigrant who had a green card, were killed in a shootout with the police after the massacre.
What about US citizens who happen to be Muslims? Yep, them too -- at least that's what his campaign said initially:
An outrage. Desperate to reclaim the media limelight after Ted Cruz surpassed him in a prominent Iowa survey (his obsession with polls is well known), Trump did just that by hastily and sloppily rolling out a knee-jerk proposal that was destined to provoke widespread ire. Mission accomplished. Then came the inevitable "clarifications" and walk-backs. Oh, actually, there is a group of citizens who'd be permitted re-entry into the country under the plan:
In an interview on Fox News, Mr. Trump said he would ease the ban in the case of Muslims serving in the U.S. military and allow them to return home.
How very generous. But wait, there's more:
“Something has to be done,” Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview on “Good Morning America.” “What I’m doing is calling very simply for Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Trump’s plan would block all Muslims from entering the United States, with an exception for U.S. citizens who are Muslim, who would come and go as they wish. He hopes the ban “will go quickly,” as soon as “our leaders figure out what the hell is going on,” Trump said. “If a person is a Muslim, goes overseas and comes back, they can come back. They’re a citizen. That’s different,” Trump said.
From "everyone," to "everyone except Muslims serving in the military," to "everyone except citizens." Then we learned that the temporary ban might be very temporary:
Trump tells MoJoe his ban might just last a few weeks. He's already backing away.— John Nolte (@NolteNC) December 8, 2015
The Trump administration, you see, will "figure out what is going on" (whatever that means) super quickly, after which -- presto -- "the Muslims" can resume their US-bound travel. How any of this would enhance US national security is unclear. The male San Bernardino attacker was a US citizen. The Fort Hood killer was in the army. So if the ostensible idea here is to eliminate the jihadist threat on US soil, why wouldn't Trump endorse more drastic steps aimed at Muslim citizens? Perhaps he'd cite the constitution as an impediment to that course of action. Or perhaps he'd call First Amendment concerns "foolish," as he did yesterday during a discussion of shutting down portions of the internet as a means of stemming jihadi online recruiting:
I think he's merely endorsing conducting cyber-warfare against ISIS-type groups here -- the government shutting down illegal websites is hardly unprecedented -- but his vague bombast is sometimes inscrutable. In any case, Trump has again succeeded in sucking up all of the media oxygen in the race, much to the delight of Democrats. He's fired off a half-baked policy idea, crafted to garner maximum attention and buzz, then has gradually shed some of its original excesses while adopting a 'won't back down' tone and posture. Republican candidates have lined up to condemn and distance themselves from the "plan," which almost seems deliberately designed to confirm the Left's most paranoid caricatures of what conservatives believe. The public is anxious about the un-"contained" threat of radical Islamist terrorism, and voters aren't impressed with President Obama's handling of the issue. Obama devoted a long passage of his weak Oval Office speech to cautioning against anti-Muslim discrimination, drawing criticism for over-emphasizing a marginal problem. Trump then promptly validated Obama's point by dropping his "ban all Muslims" idea the very next day, triggering a media shinola-storm that instantly diverted attention from substantive criticisms of Obama's policies. Maddening.
Addressing the scourge of radical Islamist terrorism is a complex task. It requires a military component, an intelligence component, and a law enforcement component (in addition to a vigilant and armed citizenry). It also requires our leaders to recognize and identify the cancer of militant Islam in a manner that is both nuanced and realistic. Blathering about how jihadism has "nothing whatsoever to do with" Islam is infantilizing nonsense. Averting one's eyes from the worrisome number of Muslims -- both globally and, to a lesser extent, in the United States -- who embrace profoundly illiberalor overtly violent views is tantamount to burying one's head in the sand and hoping for the best. We need to engage in thoughtful, difficult discussions about these issues in order to enact wise, constitutional policies that keep us safe while preserving our values. Trump's reductive, reactionary "look at me!" demagoguery furthers none of those goals. Here's Ben Shapiro's trenchant analysis of why Trump's proposal is so wrong-headed on virtually every level:
Kiss Our Intelligence Apparatus Goodnight. We need to work with Muslims both foreign and domestic. It’s one thing to label Islamic terrorism and radical Islam a problem. It’s another to label all individual Muslims a problem. That’s what this policy does. It’s factually wrong and ethically incomprehensible. Donald Trump has just transformed into the strawman President Obama abused on Sunday night. So no, this isn’t a good idea. It’s a rotten idea all the way around: legally, ethically, practically. Trump’s supporters need to realize at some point that knee-jerk extreme reactions to events of the day don’t substitute for good judgment. It’s ugly when it’s President Obama looking to grab guns from American citizens without due process, and it’s ugly from Donald Trump.I'll leave you with this important, morally-clear soliloquy from freshman Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska:
More of this, please.