Even for Donald Trump, this is low.
The Republican presidential candidate said that he’d support a database that keeps track of Muslims in the U.S.
“There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he told NBC News on Thursday. “I would certainly implement that, absolutely.”
NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard asked how that plan would be different from when Nazis tracked Jewish people.
“You tell me,” Trump said.
The Nazi government kept meticulous records of its Jewish population through Census data and forced them to wear yellow Star of David badges.
Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of the nonprofit Interfaith Alliance, compared Trump’s policies to those of the Nazis.
“My father was in World War II, and he fought to preserve America against what the Nazis were doing,” he said. “This is exactly why there is an America, to not be like that.”
On Thursday, Trump told Yahoo News that the U.S. would have to do “unthinkable” actions concerning followers of the Islamic faith and declined to rule out warrantless searches of American Muslims or identifying them by their religion in a database or national I.D. scheme.
Trump has gained political strength in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks, new polls show. A WBUR poll of Republican voters in New Hampshire conducted just after the attacks found Trump’s support had risen 4 points from a similar poll at the start of this month.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fellow 2016 hopeful, attacked Trump’s plans to register Muslims in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“It’s not a question of toughness. It’s manipulating people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength. That’s weakness,” Bush said. “And look, campaigns are important for sure. We’re electing a president, but there are things that are important as it relates to the values that we have as a country that make us special and unique and we should not and we will never abandon them in the pursuit of this fight. We don’t have to. We can protect our freedoms here.”
Former secretary of state and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton also expressed indignation about Trump’s remarks.
Trump is not the first politician to suggest bringing back a World War II-era policy. A Virginia mayor on Wednesday cited Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to "sequester Japanese foreign nationals" during World War II to justify his opposition to taking in Syrian refugees. The wartime incarceration of Japanese and Japanese-Americans, the majority of whom were U.S. citizens, is often considered to be one of the darkest moments in American history.
"President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is as real and series as that from our enemies then," Roanaoke Mayor David A. Bowers said. "It seems to me better to be safe than sorry."