Two and a half reactions to Trump’s idea of banning Muslims from entering the U.S.

REUTERS/Randall Hill
Donald Trump waving to the crowd at a Pearl Harbor Day rally aboard the USS Yorktown Memorial in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Monday.

As you know by now, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump recently called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what’s going on.” In case you missed the clarification issued by a Trump spokester, this policy as Trump envisions it would apply even to Muslims who are U.S. citizens and who happen to be out of the country when the policy kicks in. (On a constitutional basis, I do assume that that last bit makes the policy truly a non-starter because, unlike refugees seeking to emigrate, these are U.S. citizens with First Amendment protections.)

The policy has led to a lot of liberals thinking that this is going to be fatal for — or at least bad for — Trump’s political fortunes. I worry that liberals who think that way are reacting as liberals, with liberal friends, and have not tried hard enough yet to understand Trump’s appeal. Personally, I think this might help Trump in the short term, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt from the analysis of Republican pundit and media personality Erick Erickson from a piece titled “This is a brilliant move by Donald Trump”:

“This is actually brilliant politics for the here and now. Immediately, every other Republican candidate except Ted Cruz rushed out to attack Donald Trump. He’s unhinged, hateful, etc. And the responses all amounted to ‘we must let muslims [sic] enter our country,’ which sounds a whole lot like ‘we must allow all Mexicans in our country,’ which everyone knows is blatantly untrue on both counts.

“We do not have to do it, but the other candidates, unable to nuance their spittle, went all in with ‘no religious tests’ and ‘yes we must do this because it is who we are.’

“So, to put it another way, the day after the President failed to reassure a scared public following the second worst terrorist attack since 9/11 on domestic soil, Donald Trump not only got himself to the right of all the other candidates, but also got every single one of them save for Ted Cruz to align themselves with Barack Obama.

“Hate Donald Trump all you want, be offended by his proposal all you want, but it is really brilliant politics for Trump right now in the Republican primary and the reactions from the other candidates prove it. All the people attacking Trump on his immigration proposals now attacking him on this have done themselves no favors within the primary process.”

The full Erickson piece is here.

On a substantive basis, I wanted to pass along the public statement by Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. I am Jewish and Hunegs is a friend of mine and I would be proud to associate myself with his comments which appear in full below:

“As Jews throughout the world celebrate Chanukah, which commemorates our ancestors’ national liberation, and on the heels of our American Thanksgiving, we are reminded that religious freedom is both a Jewish and American value, which can only truly flourish when this right is safeguarded for all people. 

“By contrast, Mr. Trump’s hateful proposal to bar Muslims, including American citizens, from entry to the United States based solely on their religion is deeply offensive to us as Jews, unquestionably unconstitutional, and has absolutely no place in American politics.

“As Americans and as Jews, we are cognizant that Mr. Trump’s proposal comes in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA, by a couple apparently radicalized by the Islamic State terrorist group. While we join our fellow Americans in mourning the murder of 14 innocent people, scapegoating and singling out all Muslims for odious discrimination is not a solution worthy of the American people or our traditions. It is also precisely the kind of absurd overreaction that our enemies are counting on to incite additional rounds of lethal terrorism against Americans and our allies.

“Finally, as a nonprofit organization, which neither endorses or opposes candidates for office or favors one political party over the other, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas is heartened to see that swift condemnation for Mr. Trump’s obnoxious, nativist proposal is coming not just from our national Jewish partners, but also from Mr. Trump’s fellow Republican presidential candidates and from respected conservative Jewish publications such as Commentary Magazine.”

On the substance of Trump’s policy, I agree with Hunegs. On the politics, I have a hunch that Erickson might be right.

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Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Michael Hess on 12/08/2015 - 02:44 pm.

    Maybe he is giving Trump too much credit

    It follows a pattern of extreme, absurd “superlative” strategies to deal with issues -“build a wall”. Have lists and databases and databases of lists and list of databases. Systems, lots of systems. Make big deals with China. Send all illegal immigrants home. All of then. On and On. He offers up these campaign promises that would be funny if they were not often cloaked in racist or xenophobic sentiment.

  2. Submitted by Jim Million on 12/08/2015 - 04:05 pm.

    Provocateur in Chief

    Well, he is bringing all sorts of social junk out of our shadows. Please consider this all to be a con, perhaps, a way for Trump to purchase hours of worldwide promotional placement. But, for what reason?

    If we might assume he really doesn’t want to be POTUS, we may find other more intriguing motivation. Who can honestly believe Trump wants to be chained in the Oval Office for 4-8 years? He’d have to delegate most of his load to lesser managers and apprentices, just to allow preparation for his weekly Firestorm Chats.

    I have come to think Trump may be spending his money to get direct media access at a fraction of the normal price, rather than spending it on his preferred candidates in the conventional way. Trump likes control, and foreseeing a pretty weak Republican field, maybe decided to force these others to be, well, forceful. In any case, I don’t take him at his word, but at his intent, as I decipher it. Whatever others think, he sure is having lots of fun with his money.

    Anyone have other projections of Trump’s true purpose here?

    (and, of course, Trump may truly have thumped his head on one too many of his buildings)

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/08/2015 - 05:20 pm.


      Have assembled a “yooooge” business empire (much of which consists of licensing his name), there is nothing left for Trump but the presidency. It’s not about policy–if he were interested in real governing, he would run for the Senate, or maybe Governor. It’s about gratifying his ego with the biggest, most elusive prize of them all.

      I don’t think Trump has thought through what being President would really entail. He may be assuming that it consists of adoring or compliant masses doing his bidding. Dream on, pal.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/08/2015 - 09:40 pm.


        He certainly has now gone well beyond boorish. I do also wonder how many blue collar guys, like those who pour his footings and build his projects, are also listening to him “talk straight.”

        He has always liked to stir whatever pot attracts his fancy. Today he brought the media focus back to him big time, without a penny paid by him.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/08/2015 - 04:06 pm.

    This will work just great because all terrorists will self-identify themselves as Muslims at the borders and be automatically arrested and because there has been absolutely no history of radicalization via the internet.

    And how is being shot by a radical Islamic terrorist any worse than being shot by the average delusional shooter? Inquiring minds want to know the answer that the NRA and the GOP give.

    Inquiring minds also think that the answer Trump has given is the only answer that addresses the issue without endangering our ability to get shot in an all-American manner.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/08/2015 - 04:49 pm.

      You forget

      He also wants to look into ways to “shut down the internet” as it pertains to Muslims. Nothing scary there…

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2015 - 07:49 pm.

      And of course

      the odds of being shot by a terrorist are less than those of being killed by an asteroid
      (look it up — the odds of being killed by an event are a function of both the likelihood of that event and the number of people being killed in that event).
      And your odds of dying because of the effects of air pollution are greater than either.
      But not as dramatic, so we don’t pay any attention to that.

  4. Submitted by John Appelen on 12/08/2015 - 04:07 pm.

    Not Helping Themselves

    On NPR this morning they had several Muslims comment that it was terrible of Obama to ask Muslims to help identify and stop Muslim Fundamentalists/ Terrorists. They thought that he would not have dared to ask any other group of US citizens to help police themselves.

    To me that seems like the fastest way for Muslims to fuel Trump’s campaign and anti-Muslim sentiment.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/08/2015 - 05:17 pm.

      “[H]e would not have dared to ask any other group . . .”

      I think that’s a fair comment. When Dylann Roof shot up the church in Charleston, were white Americans asked to watch out for extremists in their midst? Can you imagine any politician suggesting that white America be held somehow accountable for the crimes of white people? Does non-Muslim America have some responsibility to stop the Trump campaign?

      “To me that seems like the fastest way for Muslims to fuel Trump’s campaign and anti-Muslim sentiment.” To me, that sounds like you’re blaming the victim.

  5. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 12/08/2015 - 05:52 pm.

    Turning in criminals

    If you wonder whether people are generally willing to turn in people they know are criminals, they tend to think of consequences for themselves first. Will it be safe to do so? Think about kids going to your area high school – all varieties. Are they generally aware of the kid who is selling drugs? Probably yes. Are they willing to call the police and turn them in? Probably not. When they see signs that a classmate is coming unhinged and doing things are dangerous to themselves, they tend to not think things will get bad. It is hard to be a whistleblower – and the very act often puts people in jeopardy. If there was a way to making an anonymous report and the authorities would be expected to take it seriously, perhaps more people would do so, but there is fear of being a known stool pigeon. Those in homeland security need to take the time to think through how to encourage risk-free reporting from communities who have a sense that bad things are going to happn..

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/08/2015 - 06:37 pm.

    Mr. Trump

    has a parallel, several decades ago, in another civilized, technologically advanced country.

    While we ponder that, there’s an interesting piece by William Saletan up on Slate that – my opinion here – fairly accurately gets at not only Trump’s appeal, but why, re: Eric’s earlier piece about Trump’s poll standing, his poll numbers have remained steady, or in some cases, gone up, despite quite a few baldfaced lies uttered in public, and equally enthusiastically *not* retracted. The article doesn’t reflect well on Trump supporters.

    I’m not a fan of any of the current GOP candidates, but when Paul Ryan – no one’s idea of a flaming liberal and publicly silent about the presidential campaign until today, as far as I know – condemns his party’s current leading candidate for the nomination in a public forum, I think it’s time for more serious thought among rank-and-file Republicans.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2015 - 07:58 pm.

    We’re becoming

    the land of the free
    and the home of the scared.
    and the freedom is going too.

    As Ben Franklin put it:
    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 12/08/2015 - 08:39 pm.

      I Think Ben Franklin Wasn’t Willing to Identify

      what he said as prophecy,…

      but I believe what he actually meant is this:

      “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, [WILL HAVE] neither Liberty nor Safety [in the end].”

      Those who would deny your liberty in the name of safety will inevitably take away your safety (or your sense of it) as well,…

      in order to maintain their own positions of power.

  8. Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 12/08/2015 - 08:18 pm.

    Mistake with Trump

    My take is that the mistake is to argue with Trump or directly challenge his statements as to do so gives those ideas legitimacy when they do not deserve any. Just dismiss his statements and ideas as not serious or unworthy of consideration. I am not saying to ignore him, but respond to him in such a way that calls out his statements as childish and not worth discussing.

  9. Submitted by Roy Everson on 12/08/2015 - 09:30 pm.

    What’s he up to?

    I’ve assumed all along he has multiple goals should he not win the top prize. One is to drive Jeb Bush out of the race. Two is to be the kingmaker. Should he not make it all the way look for Trump to tilt the race to Ted Cruz, another demagogue.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/09/2015 - 09:26 am.

      He’s spent his life

      taking credit for other people’s work
      (putting the name Trump on other people’s real estate development projects).
      As President he’d have George Bush the lesser as his model.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/09/2015 - 09:52 am.

        Please elaborate:

        Exactly what real estate projects? What other people’s developments?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/09/2015 - 06:32 pm.

          I’m going to pass on

          checking the details.
          I’ve read them in sources like the NYT and the Wash Post that are usually reliable reliable.

  10. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 12/09/2015 - 09:38 am.

    Trump picture: Is that a wave or a salute?

    Just as we are trying to adjust to thoughts of terrorism and small villages across this nation are beginning to start neighborhood watch groups to identify any terrorist in their midst…along comes Trump elevating the hate level…turning those fears to a more intense hate; tearing up Joe and Joanna Blow with violent rhetoric to activate those fears?

    No sir,Trump has not exactly been whistling God Bless America but creating more fears for the Blow family?

    Never thought I’d see the day dept…political radicalism is running for president!

  11. Submitted by Brian Simon on 12/09/2015 - 09:53 am.

    I’d like to ask…

    Mr Trump; in light of your proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, when will you implement a ban of all Muslims from your buildings and businesses?

  12. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 12/09/2015 - 10:02 am.

    Ban all Christians because they do the most killing

    Watch the right wing go bananas. No more Christians allowed into the US because Christians are the MOST FREQUENTLY violent and kill others. Just applying their own logic to their immigration “problem”.

  13. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/09/2015 - 11:20 am.

    Lightening Bolts

    During Obama’s time in office:

    Domestic deaths due to being struck by lightening: 192

    Domestic deaths due to terrorist acts done in the name of Islam: 42

    Domestic deaths due to cancer: Over 3,000,000

    Why is Islamic terrorism the focus of almost every news cycle? it gets politicians noticed.
    Do you know someone killed by cancer?
    Do you know someone killed by “Islamoterrorism”?

    Would you vote for someone who has as their central focus curing cancer with a “man on the moon” like commitment?

    You should, if you could find ’em.

  14. Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/09/2015 - 11:41 am.

    Can’t look away

    Every time I read one of these Trump/Republican Primary Saga accounts I think of Matt Taibbi, and how right he was when he wrote his, “Inside the GOP Clown Car,” article in August. This latest installment of the Saga, and it’s high dive into the “heinous and disgusting” end of the pool, makes what he had to say back then seem near-prophetic:

    “The thing is, when you actually think about it, it’s not funny. Given what’s at stake, it’s more like the opposite, like the first sign of the collapse of the United States as a global superpower. Twenty years from now, when we’re all living like prehistory hominids and hunting rats with sticks, we’ll probably look back at this moment as the beginning of the end.

    “In the meantime, though, the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination sure seems funny. The event known around the world as hashtagGOPClownCar is improbable, colossal, spectacular and shocking; epic, monumental, heinous and disgusting. It’s like watching 17 platypuses try to mount the queen of England. You can’t tear your eyes away from it.

    “It will go down someday as the greatest reality show ever conceived. The concept is ingenious. Take a combustible mix of the most depraved and filterless half-wits, scam artists and asylum Napoleons America has to offer, give them all piles of money and tell them to run for president. Add Donald Trump. And to give the whole thing a perverse gravitas, make the presidency really at stake.

    “It’s Western civilization’s very own car wreck. Even if you don’t want to watch it, you will. It’s that awesome of a spectacle.”

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/09/2015 - 12:03 pm.

    I’ll do nothing to discourage fear of Trump

    Because I think it will mobilize liberal voters. As for Trumps sinking political career I don’t expect that to happen because right now he’s playing to the “base” that republicans have been cultivating for decades… as far as I can see he’s unstoppable and it couldn’t be happening to nice bunch of total jerks. This is what you get for spending decades cultivating voters who can’t recognize let alone vote in their own best interests. Go Trump! is all I can say. The guy has no chance in the general election, but by all means be afraid, be very very afraid.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/10/2015 - 01:16 am.

      Wait a minute… No chance?… What!?

      “. . . it couldn’t be happening to nice bunch of total jerks.”

      Even though I’m assuming you left the “r” off the end of “nice,” God bless them all, can’t say I disagree.

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