S.E. Cupp: Trump’s most dangerous idea

SHARE S.E. Cupp: Trump’s most dangerous idea

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. | Gerald Herbert/AP

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Of all the outrageous, ignorant and dangerous things Donald Trump has said in the course of this election — and mind you, this includes goading Russia into spying on us and approving of President Eisenhower’s inhumane “Operation Wetback” — a fresh statement might be the most alarming.

In what he dubbed a foreign policy speech this week, Trump offered up his idea to keep America safe: “extreme, extreme vetting” of all who might step foot on U.S. soil.


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It isn’t clear, of course, how this would work — we already have pretty extreme vetting when it comes to screening immigrants, refugees and would-be terrorists. Many terrorists are born in European countries, not Islamic states. Others are homegrown and already here. Also, criminals aren’t likely to tip off authorities as to their motives for coming to America.

But more concerning than Trump’s usual lack of specificity was his declaration that “We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.”

That may sound innocuous. And not surprisingly, when I condemned the statement on Twitter, plenty rushed to its defense.

“I don’t know a single Patriot who doesn’t agree that immigrants should share our values. Are you a liberal now??”

“So we want people here who want to behead us? Guess what I don’t.”

“So you are OK with Sharia Law? That is what I see when I read this.

That Trump has convinced so many to accept a fascist, un-American and often un-Constitutional new version of patriotism is more than disappointing. It’s terrifying.

Starting with what should be a fairly obvious problem, what, exactly, are “our values”? I’m betting you and I have some differences of opinion when it comes to what we value. But the good news is, the Founders accounted for that with the First Amendment, allowing for all kinds of different beliefs. Whatever Trump values, citizenship — much less entry into the country — does not require you agree with it.

What citizenship does require, in addition to service, is that immigrants “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” So, if by “our values,” Trump means our laws and Constitution, we’ve already got that covered, Donald. You can take the day off.

But of course, that’s not all Trump means.

“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups,” he said, “we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles.”

What Trump seems oblivious to time and again is that we are a Democratic, pluralistic society — there are plenty of Americans, Trump included, who have held “hostile attitudes toward our country,” who think certain Presidents or parties have been worse than others, who fought to change existing principles because they were oppressive or unjust.

And our Constitution allows these people to question American authority and American principles — with hostile attitudes even. That’s why we are not Iran, China, North Korea or plenty of other dictatorships where hostile attitudes are criminalized. You need not love everything about America, or even America itself, to live here.

But Trump supporters seem more than willing to overlook this. Why? Because Trump is also vowing to keep out any immigrants “who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.”

This bogeyman is particularly potent with many of Trump’s supporters, who have been convinced this could actually happen. But the Constitution already supersedes the most controversial aspects of Sharia and every other religious law. An American Christian is no more allowed to stone an adulterer than an American Muslim is.

Trump and his supporters don’t want to reconcile the fact that Sharia laws governing daily life — diet, clothing, prayer — are no different than the laws of other faiths. American Muslims are free to privately practice it, just as Jews practice Halakhah, and Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists and others practice theirs.

That’s why the pilgrims came here, to worship publicly without persecution. It’s why America exists at all.

Every American is right to be concerned about terrorism. And our immigration system needs fixing, for sure. But Trump believes — and his supporters do too, apparently — that our problems must be solved not only at the expense of our Constitution, but the very freedoms that make us American, that make us exceptional.

Becoming more like our enemies — less tolerant and more authoritarian — isn’t patriotic. It’s indefensible.

Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com.

This column originally appeared in the New York Daily News.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

Follow S.E. Cupp on Twitter: @secupp

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