If Trump can track Muslims, close Mosques, what can he do to You?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump, having said earlier that he might seek to close down mosques if he were president, on Thursday went further and said he would implement a registration and tracking database for Muslim-Americans.

Rabbi Jack Moline of the Interfaith Alliance pointed out that the Nazis made Jews register. When a reporter asked Trump how his plan for Americans of Muslim heritage differed from the National Socialist policy of registering Jews, he replied “You tell me.”

Trump is gradually providing us with the material for a 21st-century version of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s post-war cautionary poem that would go like this:

First they came for the undocumented, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a undocumented.

Then they came for the Mexican-Americans, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Mexican-American.

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Muslims.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Trump’s increasingly erratic pronouncements are part of a steady escalation of frightening rhetoric in the Republican presidential campaign.

The first thing that comes to the mind of Constitution-honoring Americans is that we don’t have to worry about Trump’s broadsides because even if by some weird fluke he became president, half the measures he proposes would be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

You can’t for instance, actually close a mosque by presidential executive order, since Americans have a first amendment right to worship as they please.

Making a particular religious minority register with the Federal government while not requiring it of members of other religions also violates the first amendment.

So we don’t have to worry, right?


Let’s say that Hillary Clinton self-destructed in some fashion next summer and that Trump wins the November 2016 presidential election.

And let’s say that in spring of 2017, a major terrorist attack takes place in a major American city.

Terrorism makes judges cautious. No one wants to be blamed for a ruling that that might allow the next attack. It also can make them bitter and vindictive.

And that is it, Since the GOP has the House, sewn up via state gerrymandering, probably for several election cycles to come, it will presumably legislate to please a GOP president.

If judges (or Supreme Court Justices) allow themselves to be bullied by the hysteria gripping the country, then game over. Muslims would be down at the post office registering.

We can also legitimately worry about the potentially sinister role of a Trump-appointed FISA court in the face of abrogation of civil liberties.

After all, the Feds were allowed to intern Japanese-Americans, which was also completely unconstitutional.

The second thing to say is that Trump has already gone after Mexican-Americans and Muslims, and is unlikely to stop there. Whatever syndrome his mind is suffering from involves both paranoia and narcissism. If he fixes on college teachers next, or journalists, or other groups, he’d already have the Muslim precedent and could just use an executive order to target those other groups. If the courts are sufficiently wimpish, then getting a court to strike down the Trump executive order will be difficult and time- and money- consuming. In the meantime, Trump could have his way unilaterally for a long time.

We already have the situation where Barack Obama allowed the National Security Agency to spy on all our metadata without a warrant. That metadata includes cellphone pings that show your location. It isn’t just the Muslims that the national security state wants to track.

Related video:

The Young Turks: ” Trump Wants Mandatory Badges On Muslim Americans”

54 Responses

  1. First, Trump would have to secure the GOP nomination. That is a task easier said than done.

    He is narcissistic as you point out. Actually he is severely disordered.

    We may see a brokered GOP convention…another hurdle for any potential nominee.

    • Yet every time he makes a new, more fascistic statement, his approval ratings rise. If he loses, it will be because someone else won delegates from him by being even more horrible. Those Republicans will still be a danger to us and the world for the rest of their lives. At least we are being given a moment of clarity as to how numerous and powerful this barbarian horde has become, along with its analogs in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Japan, and every other place where people are angry that the “system” fails to give their lives value by sufficiently persecuting those who are different.

  2. Donald Trump is exactly what this nation needs. The lies, chicanery and blatant deception perpetrated by his delusional administration and it ‘s TelePrompTer-clown have become the laughing stock of the world.

  3. This is why we need to keep the feet to the fire of bigots like Bill Maher (who I have come to loathe) and others who have contributed to what can only be termed an ominous turn in American politics this election cycle. Yeah yeah, it’s been coming for decades and was always there in the American psyche – but even Lee Atwater had to hide behind codes (Willy Horton = scary brown/black people who will rape white women).

    The mask has now come fully off – behind the smiley face of a thousand points of light there lurks an ugly bully who is, at base, a coward, and (one need not add the qualifier “one suspects”) a fascist; how appropriate that a supremely arrogant know-nothing is now the front-runner of the GOP (I used to think GOP stood for Grumpy Old People, but now we see it means Govern Off Phobias). Their favored candidate has long since ceased to be funny (and let’s face it, he never was) and brings to mind Voltaire’s quip (cited by Timothy Egan in the NYT this morning, though in a different context), that if you can get people to believe absurdities you can get them to commit atrocities.

    That this sort of discourse has entered mainstream political discussions is truly hair-raising. That we have been frog-marched, since last Friday night, to an immediate state of collective fear and frenzy belies our claim to be the home of the brave (and eventually land of the free as well). We are more like Graham Chapman in the Holy Grail, screaming “Run Away” from a rabbit.

    I for one will no longer vote for my representative, who I have voted for and supported for years, Kurt Schrader (D-OR), one of the disgraceful democrats who voted to prohibit Syrian refugees from entering this country, and I wrote him and told him as much. We cannot cause horrible situations in the global south or Middle and Near East, create humanitarian disasters, and then refuse to assist those innocents we have injured, directly or indirectly. I don’t care how many Mexicans or Muslims live next to me – we’ve got a responsibility, and for a party that advocates personal responsibility as a virtual religion (usually in order to consign the least among us to perdition) the GOP sure as shooting shit hasn’t a clue about the responsibility of nations one to another.

  4. The MSM manufactured the public opinion that now supports Trump, who, with psychotic-like vengeance, is throwing it back to the corrupted media. If that is the case, Trump may cause the MSM to pay attention to consequences of the political monster it created. Yes, at times, there is e method in madness.

  5. I have no doubt that a Trump presidency would result in my death; I’m a gay white male who isn’t rich.

    Trump is a fascist. He will do what fascists do when they get elected. Murder people, steal stuff that belongs to their victims, destroy the reputation of the nation. (Spain might have been an exception to the last rule, but that’s only because of the Inquisition.)

    The only thing worse than a tRump victory would be a victory by any of the republicans who are running against tRump.

  6. The rhetoric of many proves that they’re anti-Islam and not the made-up entity, Islamism.

    Their honesty is much appreciated as it clarifies that their beef is against the religion of Islam and ordinary Muslims, who are as against violence as other non-Muslims.

    NOTE TO MR. COLE: I believe you’ll find this new commentary on the Quran very useful:

    “The Study Quran”, at link to amazon.com

    This study was led by the eminent scholar, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

    • 1/24/2016: I’ve heard that Michael Lardner has passed on. RIP, friend, and my condolences to the family.

  7. Before we allow Trump, Petraeus, Cheney, at al. to grant themselves more secret powers and secret funds, and to shred our remaining civil liberties, we should keep in mind that the human guided missile, aka suicide bomber, has proved to be a virtually unstoppable weapon in the asymmetrical warfare of the so-called ‘war on terror’.

    Notwithstanding all the woofing, the most tangible result of the GWOT has been the self-aggrandizement of the security/police/military sector.

    • You should consider that so many suicide bombers have been followers of right-wing reactionary movements financed by billionaires. Then consider our homegrown terrorists and abortion clinic bombers, who have basically won their 40-year war to drag America far enough to the Right to make the current GOP candidates acceptable. Now, do you think the people running the Right have ruled out the option of inciting more Christian, neo-Confederate, militia sociopaths to carry out assassinations to supplement their police state? The GOP libels Planned Parenthood, and in days the arsons begin at Planned Parenthood clinics. Will it be gays next, or Moslems, or Mexican-Americans? Just as in the Jim Crow South, the police state will look the other way as the secret state of untraceable true believers enforces unwritten laws by terror.

    • Ms. Mogahed, I saw you on MSNBC today. You’re very well-spoken. THANK YOU for bringing the conversation back to the US Constitution. I hope you will become a regular contributor to their programming.

  8. Seedsown

    Trump can crush you like that horrible 88 year old Scottish widow .. so fall in line & just keep quiet. No room for doubt here

  9. ملطشة

    The only things we know he can do are: Gambling, real estate gimmicks, quickjudging people and blabbering.

  10. If they want to register someone they might register themselves for a draft without differment

  11. As we read the papers this morning it is clear the Republicans have us on a path to something like Japanese-American WWII internment. How did it come to this? I mean, for God’s sake, my father fought WWII and I had relatives occupied in Norway and Denmark; that war was a product largely of racism and bigotry, and it did not start in Poland – it started with people talking like Trump. The war started on the pages of Mein Kampf and in hysterical speeches at places like Nuremberg and in the Reichstag. It started with a supine, frightened populace embracing a strong man.

    I am not fond of WWII analogies – they are cheap shots and it is easy to overstate them, but the rhetoric we now hear is nothing if not alarming.

    What a goddam fool I’ve been. I thought Reagan was something the country had to get out of its system but would ultimately return to its senses, and it didn’t. I thought Dan Quayle was the most mind-numbingly callous and stupid politician ever thrust on the American public, but 16 years later along came Sarah Palin. I thought that the Tea Party took menacing white supremacy (remember the guns at their rallies?) as far as the nation would tolerate it, and apparently I was quite wrong on that one too.

    Yet I stand by what I have written before in my comments on Professor Cole’s blog: I may not live to see it, but the GOP will, at some point, need to be outlawed as a White Supremacy hate group. Carthago delenda est!

    • The cause is quite simple: overpopulation, global warming, and economic pressure.

      Hitler would have stayed a fringe nutjob, except for the economic turmoil Germany faced due to crushing World War 1 reparations. The French occupation of the Ruhr humiliated all Germans, and the austerity measures required to pay back the crushing foreign debt resulting from reparations, coupled to make people angry and desperate.

      Angry and desperate people look to a strong leader to “make their country great again.” Look at the average US citizen: jobs are harder to find, and pay less, fewer opportunities for their children, and the future looks grim. Prime breeding ground for a charismatic leader who gains support by blaming all these problems on scapegoats.

      Note, please, that this also explains the rise of Daesh/ISIS: it’s so easy to blame one’s problems on a scapegoat – especially when the scapegoat is operating armed drones overhead, or enforcing sanctions against you.

      When times are good, very few listen to the scapegoating. It’s only when times are tough that we see these problems – and times are tough all over right now. Messages of hate, fear, and of taking the fight to the Others who are seeking to destroy our traditional way of life will grow increasingly popular for many years to come.

      • P.S.: Notice how many things that the US religious fanatics and Daesh/ISIS agree on, other than the definition of “the Other”, whether the name of their god is “Allah” or “Jesus”, and whether to call their Holy Book the “Koran” or the “Bible”? It’s like the Ronald Reagan / Ayatollah Khomeini duality – each one had essentially the same message about the other because each one was using the threat posed by an external foe to get otherwise unpopular policies implemented.

    • The US is devolving politically. The US has a long history of persecution of people based on their ethnicity, race, and/or religion and we are “going back to our roots.” Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine is coming to pass. The elites who control the media are ensuring that fear is being spread widely so that people will accept the unacceptable. Your prescription to outlaw the GOP as a party is as abhorrent as those things you object to. It is a clear violation of the First Amendment. You don’t fight unconstitutional acts with other unconstitutional acts. The fact that you choose the same methods as the right wing shows that they are winning.

  12. Umma Sabo

    @MuslimMatters Kill Muslims that’s what he is planning to do.But he is not going to win the election

  13. I’m sure this was written tongue in cheek or as rhetoric. Trump has no chance at all of being the Republican nominee. What is a little disturbing, however, is that you have obviously bought into the “Sanders can’t be elected” meme. It’s not obvious to me that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee or why you should be promoting her.

    • I wouldn’t be so dismissive of Donald Trump – his message of bring America back to prosperity by blaming the woes of the middle class on scapegoats rather than a tax structure designed to encourage off-shoring jobs and re-build a permanent class of ultra-rich people resonates with many.

      As to Hillary versus Bernie, I point you to the George McGovern campaign. Yes, the “I back Tom Eagleton 1000%” statement one day before replacing him on the ticket hurt, but the real damage was done by the press painting McGovern as a dangerous not-quite-Communist.

      I, too, would prefer Bernie over Hillary – but unless Hillary has a Jeb Bush level meltdown (which remains possible) , she’s the likely candidate. If Bernie’s nominated, the press will put out a steady scream of SOCIALIST between the convention and the election. Remember, you’ve got to be ultra-rich to own a media outlet these days – and they tend to operate from their gut reaction to advice from their highly-paid sycophants rather than careful, thoughtful analysis.

      • Most polls I’m seeing show Sanders beating Trump in the general election, and some polls show him beating Trump by a greater margin than Clinton does.

        But I think that when we worry about Sanders’ electability, we sell his platform and ourselves short. Are we really going to turn our backs on the man who is trying to finish the business started by FDR, LBJ and MLK, because we think the PACs and media can bring him down?

        Sanders has done a remarkable thing. He has thrown himself into the sea without a life-jacket, jumped out of a plane without a parachute, taken on the gang without a gun and given us a chance to get off our asses and pull it out for him.

        Or we can sit back and hope that somehow Hillary’s millionaires and billionaires are better than the Republicans’ millionaires and billionaires.

        Fat chance.

    • You act as though America was still One-Man-One-Vote. The electoral system is so perverted that Democratic votes are simply worth less than Republicans’, fulfilling the latter’s beliefs that they are the only real Americans. The ones who most openly and successfully assault democracy are the ones with the most say in the primaries. Now we will see if decades of extremist indoctrination have hollowed out Americans’ fundamental loyalty to democratic norms, and made them frenzied enthusiasts of whichever candidate most brazenly promises to restore the “good old days” of white patriarchal monopoly by holy decree. If it’s not Trump, it will be someone who promises to be worse.

      Also, if you look at the archive, you will notice that Cole has published one complimentary article after another about Sanders, whom I also support, but has little good to say about Clinton.

  14. “…getting a court to strike down the Trump executive order will be difficult and time- and money- consuming. In the meantime, Trump could have his way unilaterally for a long time.”

    I’ve long wondered — What happens if a president or legislature repeatedly issues the same unconstitutional directive, then rephrases and reissues it whenever it is struck down?

  15. Given Hillary’s pro-war and pro-Wall Street inclinations Trump could get the lesser evil vote. Even though he might do it inadvertently Trump might occasionally tell the American people the truth, something HRC will be less likely to do. One certainty for 2016 appears to be lesser-evil voters will have their toughest test ever.

  16. Hprynne

    @cenkuygur Religious fanatics always love harsh ideas when it’s not their flavor. Never consider if favor turns against them.

    • The difference between a president and a dictator is merely what exists to stop him. Now if President Trump decides to use our incompetent military to attack a country and as usual it doesn’t work, will he walk away, or will he bring out the nukes, since he proudly rejects all norms of international conduct on the grounds that only “babies” support them?

  17. Donald is doing what is common in all GOP primaries: stay to the Right of Attila the Hun, or in the more colorful language of Gov. Wallace many years ago: “I’ll never be out-nig*ered again!”

  18. Hateful rhetoric is abhorrent, shameful. Saying “Islam is at war with us – we’ve witnessed its evil face firsthand over and over” is especially despicable coming from the mouth of religious leader Franklin Graham. John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel promotes Islamophobia.

    Words matter. Hate speech is hate speech. It leads to distrust and fear of Muslim neighbors and others in our communities who may or may not be Muslim.

    Ginning up Islamophobia hurts not only Muslims, but others who may be perceived as such.

  19. What reason is there to believe a President Trump would pay any attention to a Supreme Court decision going against him. Or any court, for that matter?

  20. Muslims do have an option to end this discrimination, but it would probably be very difficult to put into effect. Outbid the Israel Lobby when it comes to purchasing courtesans in Congress and the White House.

  21. Sounds similar to what Israel has been doing with their night time raids into Palestinian homes at 3 a.m. in the morning terrorizing families all to map every Palestinian civilian.

    Who knows maybe Trumps racist database system will not be as brutal as Israel’s racist methods

  22. The collection and analysis of metadata would seem to be the least intrusive and most effective of surveillance techniques in the effort to stem terrorist attacks.
    Google and facebook know at least as much about most of us.
    or do you believe it would be good for the world if all communication could be infallibly incrypted?

    • The fourth amendment forbids the government from looking at our private correspondence or papers unless it has reason to suspect wrongdoing and can convince a judge to issue a warrant. The FBI couldn’t read our letters before the internet, why should the change in the mere method of the delivery of them suddenly give them that unconstitutional authority?

    • There’s another thing going on here. You point out that it’s easier for government to collect everything on everybody due to the nature of technology. However, what is really being fought over is the idea that discrimination and double standards represent a moral good. Collecting data ONLY on Moslems is a form of stigmatization; that’s exactly what movement conservatives want, a restoration of America’s real tradition of caste and racial oppression. You see different issues where the Right mobilizes frenzied opposition, like Hobby Lobby, police brutality, even how people are searched at airports. But I see that all of these cases are part of a relentless crusade to create precedents to restore the right of “real” Americans to discriminate against inferiors, with the knowledge that one victory against Moslems can be twisted into precedent used against blacks, atheists, etc. Hobby Lobby was all about the right of the religious to discriminate, a right that I guarantee will be interpreted so that only the Christian Right gets to use it. Stand Your Ground says that you are reasonable in shooting anyone you consider a threat, so a fearful bigot – indoctrinated to be so by right-wing media – has more license to shoot blacks than blacks do to shoot whites.

      So to the Right, universal data collection is offensive, because it dares imply that “real” Americans have to be held to the same standard of threat as the subhuman Other. The legal recognition of inequality, once attained, will be widened and deepened all the way back to Dred Scott. This is NOT about practical enforcement or actual crime prevention at all, it is about the idea that America is the property of the rich, by the whites, for the Christians.

      The government, ironically, shares your observation and thus wants to view everyone as a threat to its administrative imperatives. Pick your poison.

  23. I’m surprised and sickened by how Americans have been so easily frightened by misinformation and fear-mongering since Paris. Imagine if there was a large-scale terrorist attack on our soil. Oh, wait…

  24. I worry that Trump’s extremism will inure Americans to fascist views, so that if Jeb Bush or Ben Carson becomes president, the general public will think that policies just a little bit less extreme than Trump’s aren’t so bad.

    When inflammatory rhetoric is heard everyday, people become desensitized.

    Worst of all is the lack of any thoughtful dialogue about how to wage a kind of jujitsu against terrorist violence.

    I want to hear conversation from leaders about how to…

    Protect (but don’t provoke).
    Shield (but don’t slaughter).
    Defend (but don’t destroy).
    Engage (but don’t appease).
    Arrest (but don’t abuse).
    Respond (but don’t revenge).
    Obstruct (but don’t oppress).

    There are nuanced actions that can be taken to protect a nation while righting old wrongs and not making a bad situation worse. That is what we need to be talking about.

    Please pass along this idea! Thank you.

  25. In 2002 and 2003 a majority of Americans bought into the fear mongering that led to the Iraq war. Opponents warned this could destabilize the Middle East. Time has proved the war did that and more. American policy expanded to ensure destabilization of Syria. Now we have millions of Iraqis and Syrians seeking refuge from the chaos we helped to create, but apparently the majority of Americans who bear some responsibility don’t want to do so. The arrogance of power apparently means never having to say, “Sorry” or “Welcome” or “Porte Ouverte” as some courageous French announced. As in the past racism and fear remain an American tradition.

  26. Donald Trump reminds me of Dusty Roads, the character played so well by Andy Griffith in the movie A Face In The Crowd. Even if Trump self-destructs as that character does, it is frightening how easily people fall for this con man and his fall could just end up bringing about a Ben Carson candidacy, not much of an improvement. From one-third to 40% of our population has gone over to irrationality and/or delusion in politics. We are living in a difficult and frightening time and that is due more to our reaction to the terrorists than the terrorists themselves.

  27. Yesterday, Nov. 21, a #BlackLivesMatter protester was kicked out of a Trump rally at the direction of Trump himself. This individual was also struck by attendees. In a Fox News interview this morning, Trump said the protester “…should have been roughed up…”

    link to finance.yahoo.com

    This is the closest we’ve come to fascism in my lifetime (40+ yrs). My question is, does this compare to the “Red Scare” era, or does this have the potential to become even worse?

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