If there was any question as to whether President Donald Trump will act with any more tolerance than candidate Donald Trump, it was put to rest this week. The bigoted policies that sustained his campaign throughout the election appear to be here to stay.
And even more damning, the rumored top choice for Trump’s Attorney General, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has a history with drafting racist and unconstitutional anti-immigration policies. He is also bragging about already being in the planning stages of Trump’s long-promised “Muslim registry” that will track Muslim immigrants regardless of whether they were even suspected of being involved in terrorism.
To implement Trump’s call for “extreme vetting” of some Muslim immigrants, Kobach said the immigration policy group could recommend the reinstatement of a national registry of immigrants and visitors who enter the United States on visas from countries where extremist organizations are active.
Kobach helped design the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, while serving in Republican President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants.
This mirrors Trump’s own comments on the campaign trail, where he – coincidentally almost exactly one year ago to the day – promised to implement “systems” for tracking Muslims.
MSNBC: Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?
Trump: There should be a lot of systems. Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems.
And when asked point blank what that meant, he conceded that he was talking about a Muslim registry that he would “certainly implement.” (Facing backlash, he later confusingly argued that he hadn’t heard the reporter’s question but also said, “But what I want is a watch list. I want surveillance programs. Obviously, there are a lot of problems. … But, certainly, I would want to have a database for the refugees.”)
In the early stages, it’s hard to know what the registry would look like or how it would even work. Picking a guy like Kobach to develop it suggests that it may be sweeping. In his career, he has shown absolutely zero hesitation in going after minorities at a racial or religious level, even if it meant violating their rights. He helped design Arizona’s infamous immigration law that allowed police officers to demand to see proof of citizenship from any Hispanic person they came across. It was later torn down in the courts, having been shown to be clearly racist and clearly unconstitutional. Now it appears he’s back for Round Two and he’s going to be developing it with the explicit consent of the President of the United States.
Should Kobach and Trump get their way, and Republicans in Congress do nothing to stop it, every day Americans have come up with a last, desperate way to screw over this shameful blight on American values. They can ruin the database from within.
The plan is simple. If Trump demands to know who is and isn’t a Muslim, then Americans can express solidarity while making the database worthless by identifying themselves as Muslim en masse. It gets to the Achilles heel of Trump’s antagonism towards Muslims. Faith isn’t something you can test in a lab, it would be impossible to verify who is telling the truth. And already non-Muslims of many backgrounds are suggesting they would be willing to be added to the database just to undermine it.
I am #OpenlySecular, but I will register as a Muslim if there's a registry.
This is not the country I want to see my child raised in
— (((Mike Sharp))) (@Sharp208) November 16, 2016
If Trump creates a registry for Muslims,my family will register. We all should register as Muslims. #WeStandWithMuslims
— (((Ameya Pawar))) (@Alderman_Pawar) November 16, 2016
As a Catholic Christian, I'd be more than happy to register Muslim, you go after one of us, you are after us all. https://t.co/k8mmapKjVw
— `Sophia Olazaba (@Sophia_1) November 16, 2016
— Joe Burke (@joker5339) November 16, 2016
This is obviously not the single solution to the problem. It’s merely reminder that the only way Trump can get these policies to work is if average Americans do nothing to oppose it. Civil disobedience, protest, and grassroot political action can undermine every single thing Trump does during his time in office – even if Republicans in Congress won’t lift a finger to stop this level of tyranny.
In these uncertain times, America’s motto needs to be changed to something a bit more appropriate for the times:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
So do something.
Featured image via Isaac Brekken/Getty Images