A Muslim Registry?

REACTIONS & REJOINDERS

A Muslim Registry?
Sat December 3, 2016

In the past century a major western country had what was effectively a dictatorship evolve from the results of an ill-subscribed election in which a party with totalitarian and nationalistic inclinations, including exclusionary ideologies based on race, came to power. Generally, I reflexively tell people that the first advocate who tries to draw an analogy with the Nazi model automatically loses the argument, but we reserve the Nazi analog for only the most extreme of public positions for a reason. When there is an actual correlation between a fascist policy and the expressed policy of a heretofore respectable political entity, there is no choice but to draw attention to the comparison.

In the recent American presidential election two major candidates, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, proposed to restrict entry to the country on the basis of religion. Trump went so far as to propose an actual database of Muslims based on the assertion that this specific group of people need to be kept track of, on suspicion of their collective responsibility for some future incidences of civil instability. There is reason to suppose that plans for such an accounting (I write this in late November, 2016) are underway at this date.

Certainly there have been other examples of institutional hostility on the part of the United States government, many of them ongoing, against groups of people for reason of their ethnicity. People have routinely been deprived of life, freedom and property in the United States by or with the complicity of civil authorities. This has often happened in other countries as well. The closest parallel, however, to the compilation of extensive personal information to track the locations of members of an ethnic group following a bath of public dogma hostile to that group, is the use of painstaking clerical tactics on the part of German fascists to locate, set apart, exterminate and keep exacting records of the disposition of European Jews.

When German conquerors secured control of Denmark they issued orders, as they had elsewhere, that on a certain date all Jewish Danes would henceforth be required to wear yellow armbands with a Star of David in public to – identify them to German authorities. Legend holds that at the suggestion of the Danish King Christian X, on the appointed morning hundreds of thousands of urban Danes – in numbers obviously greater than the number of Jewish citizens in the country – showed up in workplaces and markets sporting yellow armbands. I had a friend who was there – in Copenhagen that day – and she told me that it happened. She is convinced it saved her life.

I’m not Muslim and probably couldn’t convince many people I am, but if there comes to be a registry of Muslims in the United States I expect to add my name to it. Given the sophistication of clerical practice since the 1940’s, that may be little more than a token gesture. But many of us will do a great deal more than that to make sure that such a database is never compiled, because people get killed that way.

We have witnesses.

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