The idea of creating a national registry of all Muslims living in the United States is egregiously wrong and almost certainly unconstitutional. It is actually such an abysmal idea that it seems farcical - except that it's not funny at all.
As a religious leader, I try to stay out of the fray of partisan politics. But as a rabbi, I can't help but see the parallels between Donald Trump's pseudo-serious proposal and fascist actions taken against Jews during the last century. Creating a mark of distinction, whether tangible or digital, provides the basis for the hatred and brutalization of a particular group. I fear that if such a registry were created (or even further fanaticized about by Islamophobes), it would provide pretense for crimes against American Muslims.
Even within the rhetorically laden landscape of the current presidential race, the very mention of a registry for American Muslims makes me think of Nazi actions to register Jews in Western Europe and seize their property - the start of an irreversible downward spiral. What's the next proposal? A crescent that all Muslims are to sew onto their garments?
Although Jews have thrived in America since World War Two, it would be naive to think that my tradition or our civil society is safe when one group is being so singled out. As a rabbi, I cannot stand for such a proposal.
So let me suggest the following as a response to the hateful proposal of a registry: Register me too.
The story of the Danish Jews comes to mind from the last century. While much mythology surrounds accounts of the Danish King donning a yellow star, what is clear is the impact that clergy, civic leaders, and yes, the King did have in foiling many of the Nazi plans to deport Jews. Their refusal to comply with hateful directives and willingness to speak out against them early and often saved countless lives and made evident that hatred had no place in Denmark.
We have not reached anything close to such lows in American civil society or American political discourse. I do not think we ever will. But the alarm bells are ringing in ways they have not in my lifetime. It's high time for non-Muslim leaders to stand up and show that even insinuating that American Muslims should be systematically singled out by the government is antithetical to the core values of our country.
So, Mr. Trump, if you do intend to target Muslims in a national registry (or worse), please register me too.
Post-Publication Update: Unbeknownst to me, Bend the Arc did create a protest 'registry' against Mr. Trump's proposal.