Americans reached a turning point after Paris 2 and San Bernardino. For the first time since 9/11, people have a well founded concern that terror can happen anywhere in the United States at any time. I am sure ISIS views this as some sort of victory.
Yet there are those in government who do not wish to take aggressive action against ISIS. As a result, a void has been created between what Americans expect the government to do and what the government is actually doing (or not doing as the case may be).
Enter Donald Trump – America’s reality television candidate who says what people are thinking when they aren’t thinking thoroughly. He is filling the void created by Obama’s inaction by calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
This article addresses the choices of law we must make in the war against ISIS and how those laws will continue to effect our society long after we win and forget ISIS had even existed.
The Trump Facts
Rather than mince words, I will let Trump speak for himself. According to his campaign website, the following press release was given on December 7, 2015 and was titled “Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration”:
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.” – Donald J. Trump
Having read this statement a few thoughts come to mind. First, Trump’s measure against Muslims is temporary in nature or at least “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Second, it is a measure intended to defend America against terrorism, which Trump attributes to religious affiliation with Islam. Third, Trump claims his religious attribution is premised on common sense, two polls of Muslims, and unspecified information from Pew Research.
The “Logic” of Weaponized Discrimination
According to Wikipedia, “discrimination” is “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing is perceived to belong to rather than on individual merit.” However, discrimination is not inherently unlawful.
For instance, a landlord who refuses to rent an apartment to people who own dogs over 30 lbs. is discriminating based on pet size, however this is perfectly legal. Whereas a landlord who refuses to rent an apartment to Black people is discriminating based on race, which is clearly illegal.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.” In America, such discrimination is illegal because the Constitution endows every person with the Fundamental Right to religious freedom… you can worship whatever you want or not worship at all.
Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” weaponizes religious discrimination because his call uses religious discrimination as a tool for warfare. It suggests that because our attackers are Islamic, if we would only get rid of all the Islamists, then so too, we would get rid of our attackers.
The Problem with Weaponized Discrimination
Our Founding Fathers were not idiots. They also weren’t pacifists. They were tough men who picked up rifles and revolted against their government knowing that they would surely die if unsuccessful in their sedition.
In fact, they were brilliant. They were educated thinkers who weren’t only in the fight to make a point or to make their own lives better. They created a system of law that was specifically designed for posterity, so that future generations may never know tyranny or oppression.
This is a real thing. Its not just patriotic talk. It is what the Founders did. They designed America’s laws to specifically limit the power of governmental rule, to prevent tyranny, and to make sure liberty perseveres not only for that time, but for all future generations as well.
Our system of laws is not ad hoc, it was not thrown together without any intentional purpose, nor was it plagiarized.
When the Constitution was drafted, the inherent rights of Mankind were written into the law. Having experienced governmental religious discrimination in England, one of the very first rights drafted into the law was the right to religious freedom. Because it is so fundamental to everything the Revolution stood for and because it was preserved by so much sacrifice, both in terms of human life and material possession, the Founding Fathers identified religious freedom as “Fundamental Right” – the highest level rights enumerated in the law.
Think of it like this – religious freedom was written into law almost 90 years before slavery was abolished.
Even men who believed in owning human beings like property believed everyone has the right to religious freedom. Not that one is more important than the other, but the legacy of religious freedom is almost an entire century older than abolition.
But thats not even the real problem with religious discrimination. The harm is not merely an intangible ethical one that lives in our collective conscious, or doesn’t. The real harm is to future generations.
Thankfully, we live in a good era of American history. We all suffer from first world problems. Outdated iPhones, poor wifi connections, not being able to find this season’s Prada in your size… you know what I mean.
America is fat, wealthy, and healthy. While other countries live in squalor, we live the lives of an advanced civilization. Despite all our perceived problems we are a very blessed people who live very good lives.
However, that may not be the case in the future.
Future generations may suffer severe economic collapse, famine, disease, or worse. Every few trillion births, one person is born who is utterly exceptional – an Einstein, a Mozart, a Picasso, a Benjamin Franklin. But as often as exceptionalism is good, it is equally evil.
The truth is that men like Hitler are born and they do rise to power. History is replete with examples too numerous to list here. It is infrequent but it happens. When it does happen, the tyranny is wicked and the human suffering is incomprehensible.
The Founding Fathers knew this. They also knew that tyrants do not pop up out of nowhere when things are good, people are fat and rich, and everything is hunky-dory.
Tyrants rise when bad things happen – such as when civilization is weakened and downtrodden by war. When it came to Hitler, Europe had just come out of World War I where over 38 million people were killed and the economies of England, France, Belgium, Germany, and others were utterly wrecked – especially Germany’s.
The Founding Fathers understood that tyranny has a slow start. Hitler didn’t rise to power in Germany by building concentration camps and suggesting they gas all the Jews. He did that long after he eliminated his political opponents, rose to power, became Chancellor, and launched World War II.
Even the Final Solution against the Jews didn’t start big. It started with little things… like Jews not being allowed to work in government, or own certain types of businesses, or attend certain universities as either teacher or faculty. Then it expanded to laws requiring Jews to be publicly identified by yellow Stars of David. Then Jews weren’t allowed to live amongst the general populace, were removed from their homes, and placed into ghettos. After a few years in the ghettos they were removed to camps where “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work Brings Freedom” was the slogan, such as Auschwitz.
In fact, Auschwitz was a death camp where upward of 3 million people were gassed to death then cremated into ashes.
It didn’t happen overnight. It started with the little things… the things that were based on mild forms of religious discrimination that anti-discrimination laws would have nipped in the bud.
Once you start making exceptions to Fundamental Rights enumerated in the Constitution, you eliminate the check and balance placed on the seedlings of tyranny. Worse than that, you also create a nefarious precedent that can be abused by future evil men.
In American law, everything is based on the concept of precedent. To determine how to answer a present question of law, our legal system looks to past decisions for answers. This is called “legal precedent” or “precedent”.
In future times, evil leaders who wish to oppress our people and religiously discriminate against us will turn to this exception to justify their actions.
Despite the seriousness of the ISIS threat, 99.9999999% of American life has remained unmolested as of the writing of this article. That means, Trump’s suggestion is a first move option. It took barely any loss of life before we tossed the Constitution – which means the power of the Constitution is really meaningless.
It is not like we have been at war for ten years and have sustained millions of casualties with no end in sight – at least then his suggestion can be blamed on desperation and exasperation, but it isn’t.
Every tyrannical move to oppress is always connected to a legitimizer, kind of like how a white lie always has some little truth… it can’t be completely made up or else it isn’t palatable.
The Founding Fathers understood this. That is why they made religious freedom a Fundamental Right.
To infringe on religious freedom, the existential danger to the Republic and the people in it must be so great, so obvious, and so pervasive that it is clearly violate or cease to exist. While I agree we must aggressively fight ISIS without mercy and annihilate them, we are VERY far from the point where we need to start abandoning the Constitution. In fact, it is laughable to say we tossed the Constitution after the first shot in San Bernardino.
We must find another way. Not to mention the fact that the underlying premise of Trump’s call to action is wrong. Radical Islamists represent a very small percentage of all Islamists. Our country would suffer a great deal of economic and social loss if we did not allow Muslims to be part of our society.
Muslims are valiant soldiers in our military, they are doctors in our hospitals, they are judges and lawyers in our legal system, and they are honest business owners who pay their taxes, raise their families like the rest of us, and co-exist with us.
I wrote this article because it is incumbent on the people, especially people not part of the targeted group, to speak out and loudly say what is right and what is wrong.
Trump is wrong.
That said, we should bomb ISIS off the map without mercy and do it now.