The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Won’t Rule Out Religious ID

I just did a radio interview with our old friend Michael Graham. He told me that Donald Trump says we might have to start putting religious affiliations on drivers’ licenses or some such. I hadn’t heard that, so I looked it up. It’s not quite as stark as Michael seemed to make it. But it is pretty bad. From Yahoo News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Now, I’ll bet Trump walks some of this back in the next 48 hours, just as he did with his initial call to admit Syrian refugees and other statements that have departed his posterior before his brain could catch them. But let’s be clear, getting the federal government involved in tracking and labeling citizens’ religious affiliations is abhorrent on the merits and a huge invitation to profound mischief down the road. Creating databases on all members of any religion is a terrible idea as well. I don’t mind “monitoring mosques,” if there is intelligence suggesting that a specific one needs to be monitored. But a blanket policy of monitoring all mosques strikes me as a major assault on religious liberty — and a spectacular waste of resources. Trump is right — or at least may be right — when he says that some mosques may need to be shut down when “some bad things happen”if those bad things were plotted or advanced by those mosques. I’m all for cutting through the PC platitudes about how Islamic extremism isn’t Islamic. But I have little interest in going so far the other way that we actually resemble the straw men the Left has been screaming about all along.

Regardless, giving Trump free rein to do “unthinkable” things for my security sounds pretty unthinkable to me.

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