Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.
Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. 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. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.”
This is disgusting. I believe that it is reasonable to be restrictive about Islamic immigration to the US, and I despise the way the mainstream media has always gone out of its way to avert its eyes from domestic Islamic radicalism. But there is nothing reasonable about banning travel to the US on the basis of religion. What kind of respect does Trump have for religious freedom? It’s a relief to know that should Trump become president and try to implement such a plan, the Supreme Court would shoot it down in a heartbeat. Still, that a leading presidential candidate would take such a stand is profoundly disturbing.
Religious freedom matters, and not just for people who pray like the rest of us do. It is within the realm of possibility that one day in the far future, the US government will be compelled to implement such an extreme measure for the sake of national security. But if we do arrive at such a day, America as we know it will be over anyway. Conservatives would be fools to hasten the day by cheering for Trump’s radicalism.
This is what I tweeted the other week about taking Trump seriously, and that he might actually know what he’s doing. pic.twitter.com/iceBe1YVOl
— Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid) December 8, 2015
The United States government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. The government should close the borders to anyone suspected of even a passing involvement with any radical cell or terrorist network. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are American citizens, for holding their religious convictions.
Muslims are an unpopular group these days. And I would argue that non-violent Muslim leaders have a responsibility to call out terror and violence and jihad. At the same time, those of us who are Christians ought to stand up for religious liberty not just when our rights are violated but on behalf of others too.
Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians. A government that issues ID badges for Muslims simply because they are Muslims can, in the fullness of time, demand the same for Christians because we are Christians.
Folks, I still don’t believe Donald Trump will be either the GOP nominee or the next president, but let me tell you, you will remember how you responded to him at moments like this.
UPDATE.2: Six years ago, the conservative Catholic philosophy professor Frank Beckwith reminded friends and colleagues arguing for ending Muslim immigration to the US of how Protestants here once regarded Catholic immigrants. Keep extremists of all kinds out, he said, but don’t make all members of a religion suffer for the sins of a few.
Also, here’s a three-minute video of US Sen. Ben Sasse responding to the San Bernardino massacre. There are parts of this that I would quibble with — maybe I’ll blog about them tomorrow — but this is pretty much the ideal Republican response. It’s far stronger and more convincing than what President Obama said last night, and it’s indescribably better than Trump’s rabble-rousing. Ben Sasse could take Trump apart in debate, I bet: