The fears and knee-jerk reactions that accompany them are understandable in the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, but the cynical attempts by Republican politicians to gain political advantage by stoking those fears and reactions are reprehensible.
But they are worse than that--far worse. When Donald Trump said of the creation of a national database to register all Muslims living in the United States, "I would certainly implement that. Absolutely," he went beyond being merely the stupid, obnoxious jerk that he has long shown himself to be. Most commentators have focused on how such comments might help him with the Republican base, but would assure his defeat in a general election.
But such statements--along with that by Ted Cruz that only Christian refugees, not Muslims fleeing ISIS, should be allowed into the United States--are not just politically foolish in the longer run than the race for the Republican nomination. They are not just un-American. They are anti-American; they are almost certain to lead to a lot of people, including Americans, being killed.
The statements by Trump and Cruz are tailor-made to be used in ISIS propaganda to recruit more terrorists. ISIS will point out to Muslims around the world that the leading candidate for the presidential nomination of one of the two major political parties in the United States wants to oblige all Muslims in the country to register and carry identification with them. The terrorist group will correctly say that another leading presidential candidate wants to impose a religious test for entry into the United States and exclude Muslims. See, just as we told you, the United States is anti-Islam and you should join us in committing acts of terror against Americans.
What these Republican fear-mongers are saying is despicable. It is evil. It is anti-American. It is aiding and abetting the enemy. They have become major recruiters for ISIS.
Many of us who are progressive Democrats have salivated at the prospect of Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination. But we have reached the point where we, unlike Trump and many other Republicans, have to be responsible and place the safety and well-being of people above political goals. It is now clear that the damage to our country that comes from having Trump continue as the leading Republican candidate outweighs the benefit of having him as the so-easy-to-defeat GOP nominee.
The same is the case with Cruz. Either of these Republicans would lose badly next November, but the irreparable damage their prominence as leading presidential candidates will do in the meantime to the United States and the world through their provision of recruiting points to terrorists requires us to hope that they are eliminated from the Republican field as soon as possible.
When we cower in fear, when we abandon American principles, when we turn away desperate people trying to escape the terrorists, we provide immeasurable assistance to those terrorists and achieve for them their objective of undermining American freedom.
The powerful words Langston Hughes wrote in 1935 come to mind:
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
And make America again!