The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Note on Muslims, the Constitution, and ‘Suicide Pacts’

I don’t know if Newt Gingrich was making one last desperate play to be Donald Trump’s vice president, but last night he out-Trumped Trump with this unconstitutional nonsense:

When I noted the plain and obvious fact that such a policy would violate the First Amendment, a number of Trump fans (including people who should know better) tweeted back at me that the Constitution “is not a suicide pact.”

But here’s what puzzles me — the classic Trump fan position is that advocates of overseas intervention are nothing but a bunch of neocon warmongers. Even considering or proposing the deployment of a few Brigade Combat Teams to hit ISIS in the Middle East or Libya is proof that you’re a GOPe stooge, another Bush or John McCain. At the same time, however, you’re a weak cuck if you don’t think we should suspend the First Amendment to combat the threat of radical Islam.

So which is it? Is the terror threat so inconsequential that it’s not worth deploying even a fraction of our military might to obliterate jihadist safe havens? Or does it represent such an existential threat that we need to tear up the Constitution to confront the enemy? You can’t have it both ways. 

In reality, our warriors are more than capable of defeating our enemies abroad — and our national security apparatus more than capable of limiting the terror threat here at home — without doing one bit of violence to our civil liberties. We can stop immigration from jihadist hot spots without violating the Constitution. We can destroy ISIS and other jihadist safe havens and protect refugees in the Middle East without violating the Constitution. And we can monitor, arrest, and prosecute potential jihadists without violating the Constitution. We don’t lack the tools to roll back jihad. We merely lack the will.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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