Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Trump: America’s Funhouse Mirror

The latest outburst of self-righteous indignation directed at Donald Trump underscores what hypocrites Americans are, as well as illustrating their seemingly endless capacity for self-delusion. This latest eruption of moralizing is occasioned by Trump’s proposal that all travel by Muslims into this country must be ended – “until we find out what the heck is going on.”

Oh, moan liberals and conservatives alike, this is terrrrrible!!! It’s bigoted! It’s unconstitutional! And it’s not very nice! Yet Congress is set to approve a bill with broad bipartisan backing that would deny visa-free travel to anyone who has been in Iraq or Syria in the past five years. Not only that, but the legislation would end visa-free travel from friendly nations like France and Belgium, where Muslims make up a significant minority of the population. Trump’s proposal – given its draconian premise – actually makes more sense, in that it wouldn’t include a French wine wholesaler on a tourist visa or a Belgian Jewish doctor here to attend a medical conference.

Even self-described “libertarian-ish” politicians like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) are on the same wavelength as Trump on this one: a couple of weeks ago he introduced legislation “suspending” entry into the US by visitors, students, refugees, etc., from countries with “significant jihadist movements.” His father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul, introduced very similar legislation – the “Terror Immigration Elimination Act” – back in 2003 when he was a congressman. Paul the Younger’s spokesman says he opposes Trump’s proposal – but The Donald is simply taking the principle animating Sen. Paul’s legislation and applying it more consistently.

Let’s look at the provenance of another supposedly outrageous Trumpian proposal: the idea of establishing a database tracking Muslims in the United States. This is supposed to illustrate The Donald’s unique evil, but in fact mosques in this country have been under heavy surveillance for years. New York City had a Muslim surveillance program, and the FBI has been entrapping Muslims in phony “terrorist” plots as a form of security theater. And then there was the proposal for a comprehensive program of systematic spying by David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and Richard Perle, a former top Bush administration official, as put forth in their book, An End to Evil:

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