On February 27, 1933, an arson fire destroyed Germany’s parliament building, the Reichstag. Hitler’s Nazi party blamed the fire on foreign-born communists, one of whom was convicted and executed. The fire and the purported threat of a communist coup d’etat provided the basis for legislation outlawing political activities by non-approved (meaning other than the Nazis) political groups. This, in turn, paved the way for Hitler’s Nazis to take control of the German state.
On November 16, 2016, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and a close advisor to President-Elect Donald Trump stated that Trump is considering a registry for all immigrants who are Muslims or who come from areas of the world where Islamic terrorists are active.
This idea recalls the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans living on the west coast under orders from President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. And while this kind of group punishment is repugnant and immoral, it may be legal under the US Constitution.
I have no doubt that Trump and his advisors expect that such a move would be met with vehement opposition by groups throughout the country. International outrage could also be expected. But more chilling is the possibility of armed attacks within the US by jihadis outraged by the treatment of their fellow believers.
This scenario has eerie similarities to the incident of the Reichstag fire in 1933. The fire was an actual arson. But historians have yet to agree on whether the arsonist(s) acted independently or were duped into the crime by Nazi operatives, a “false flag” operation designed to justify a complete silencing of political opposition.
It is not beyond imagining that members of the Trump administration (with what cooperation of FBI agents we can only begin to speculate) would instigate followers of Daesh or other jihadi sympathizers to launch a serious attack (or attacks) in the US in order to justify a more comprehensive clamp-down on Muslims, immigrants, and political militants. Or, such attacks could occur autonomously as a violent reaction to the Trump administration’s policies.
In any case, it is imperative that right-minded people force an end to any talk of or plans for a “Muslim registry.” It violates the basic principles of our democracy. And it could be the first step in the elimination of democratic freedoms for all of us.