Following the terrorist attacks on Paris that rocked the world, United States politicians are scrambling to say just the right things to address the American public’s security concerns. They are trying to appear tough on terrorism but at the same time, compassionate to the plight of refugees. Basically, politicians - especially those running for Presidential office - are trying to make sure they say things that will win them support and not say things that will hurt their popularity.
Over one-half of the country’s governors have announced their plans not to take in Syrian refugees - even though that decision is ultimately up to the federal government. The House of Representatives passed legislation that aims to make an already-rigorous, comprehensive resettlement process even more difficult. The bill makes it harder and more time-consuming for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to gain asylum in the United States.
And while many politicians are focusing on the entry of refugees into the United States, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is attempting to also focus on the Muslim population that already resides within the U.S. On Thursday night, in an interview with NBC News, Trump expressed his support for the idea of tracking Muslim American citizens in a national database: “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely. There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems.”
In his arsenal, should Trump become president, would be things like religious identification on ID cards, some warrantless searches, and the revival of an extremely troublesome Mosque surveillance program.
The question becomes: How would Trump’s Muslim program be any different from the J-stamp that Jews had on their ID cards in Nazi Germany? Or from the ID tags identifying Japanese-Americans who were placed in labor and prison camps around the country following Pearl Harbor?
When asked about these similarities by NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard, Trump responded, “You tell me.”
Public opinion of Muslims in the United States was not very positive before 9/11 and the backlash following that fateful day is well-documented. In a poll conducted in November 2001 by the Kennedy School of Government Civil Liberties and NPR, 59% of those surveyed indicated that a person’s religious affiliation should be listed on a national identification card:
Even more than 10 years later, anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. has not decreased but in fact has worsened. Hate crimes against Muslims are common. Sociologists at Northwestern University, MIT, and Harvard conducted a rigorous study and found that Arabs and Muslims are the most dehumanized group in the United States.