Trump On His Plan To Ban Muslims: 'Not Politically Correct, But I Don't Care' | KERA News

Trump On His Plan To Ban Muslims: 'Not Politically Correct, But I Don't Care'

Dec 8, 2015
Originally published on December 8, 2015 10:02 am

The latest pronouncement from the presidential campaign of Donald Trump calls for the U.S. to refuse to let any Muslim — from anywhere — into the United States.

It has prompted very strong criticism, including from some of his fellow Republican candidates and state party leaders.

The Philadelphia Daily News cover Tuesday morning labels Trump "The New Furor."

Trump's proposal came the day after President Obama's Sunday night televised address from the Oval Office in which the president urged Americans to reject discrimination against Muslim Americans.

Trump's response?

"I wrote something today that I think is very very salient, very important and probably not politically correct, but I don't care," Trump said at a rally on an aircraft carrier-turned-museum in South Carolina.

The statement earned him a standing ovation at an event in which two protesters were led out. Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

He cited polls as evidence of "hatred" of Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. One was a survey from Pew Research. He didn't include specifics, so it's not clear what the data there really show.

A 2011 Pew Global Attitudes survey found majorities of Muslims in other countries described Westerners as "selfish," "violent" and "arrogant."

The Washington Post's Philip Bump pointed out, citing different Pew data:

"The polling firm has found that Muslims across the globe are overwhelmingly opposed to the Islamic State and in 2007 that Muslims were much less likely to view suicide bombings as justified than five years prior. Pew also found a partisan split in which Republican Americans were far more likely to hold negative views of Muslims than Democrats. In 2011, they learned that U.S. Muslims almost never consider suicide bombings to be justified."

At his rally, Trump then went on to highlight another poll.

"This was from the Center for Security Policy, very highly respected group of people, who I know, by the way — 25 percent of those polled agreed violence against Americans is justified. It's Muslims — 25 percent," Trump said.

The poll is highly suspect. Its methodology is questionable — polling online — and its questions in many cases are leading.

There may be a reason for that. While Trump calls the group "highly respected," it's a hawkish, ultra-conservative organization whose website features prominent warnings about the rise of Sharia, or Islamic law, in the U.S. and about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating this country.

"The Muslim Brotherhood agenda for the United States demonstrably seeks through subversive infiltration of American institutions the triumph of shariah," the group's president and founder Frank Gaffney writes on the website about a book he endorsed as part of its "Civilization Jihad Reader Series." He continued, "We are now on notice that U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations is simply the leading edge of the jihadist movement in this country. While the USCMO seeks to cloak itself in red, white, and blue, it is only for the purpose of accomplishing what can aptly be described as 'Star Spangled Shariah.' "

Gaffney is known for alleging the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the U.S., including Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Gaffney even has a petition page set up on his group's website seeking to kick Norquist and Suhail Kahn out of the American Conservative Union and accusing them of "running influence operations against conservatives on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes."

Reaction from other GOP presidential hopefuls came quickly. Ben Carson tried to draw this line: "Everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay, as is done in many countries," spokesman Doug Watts said. "We do not and would not advocate being selective on one's religion."

Others all-out rejected Trump's proposal.

Ted Cruz, who is competing with Trump for both the Tea Party and the evangelical vote, spoke to NBC News. "No, that is not my policy," he said. "I believe the focus should be on radical Islamic terrorism."

Jeb Bush called Trump "unhinged."

Marco Rubio said Trump's plan was outlandish and offensive.

Chris Christie said Trump has no idea what he's talking about.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was asked about it during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Radio program.

"Well, I think this whole nation, that we can say, 'No more Muslims,' that we can just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in," he said.

Muslim civil rights groups, meanwhile, reacted with alarm. Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Trump sounded like the leader of a lynch mob.

"If such hatred and bigotry is not outright rejected by the GOP, then it will be part of its legacy for many years to come," Awad said.

Republican Party chairs in two key early primary states, South Carolina and New Hampshire, did outright reject it.

But a co-chairman of Trump's state veterans coalition in New Hampshire defended Trump's statement, arguing that it's the same policy used against Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"What he's saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps," state Rep. Al Baldasaro said, per WMUR's John DiStaso. "The people who attacked innocent people in Paris came through open borders. From a military mind standpoint, all Donald Trump is saying is to do what needs to be done until we get a handle on how to do background checks."

Baldasaro also called on Jennifer Horn, the state party chairwoman, to step down for calling Trump's plan "un-American."

"She needs to resign because she has no clue," Baldasaro said. "She's my friend, but I have to separate that from the Republican Party."

As divisive as this policy is, Trump did something else last night — something he always does at his rallies: portray himself as the man to unify the country.

"Wouldn't it be good for all of us to really get together and make our country great again?" Trump asked, invoking his slogan. "Isn't that what we really want to do?"

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, Donald Trump sure knows how to grab a headline. He did it yesterday. The Republican presidential candidate called for the United States to block all Muslims from entering this country. He drew ferocious criticism, including from rival candidates. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Trump's proposal came the day after President Obama's Sunday night televised address in which he urged Americans to reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. Trump's response?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I wrote something today that I think is very, very salient, very important and probably not politically correct. But I don't care. I don't care.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: The statement earned Trump a standing ovation at a rally on an aircraft carrier-turned-museum in South Carolina. He called for, quote, "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," end quote. Trump cited polls as evidence of hatred of Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. One was a survey from Pew Research, but he didn't include specifics. So it's not clear what the data there really show. Then he highlighted another poll.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: This was from the Center for Security Policy - very highly respected group of people who I know, actually. Twenty-five percent of those polls agreed violence against Americans is justified - as Muslims - 25 percent.

GONYEA: Trump calls it a highly respected group, but it is a hawkish, ultraconservative organization whose website features prominent warnings about the rise of sharia law in the U.S. and about the Muslim brotherhood infiltrating this country. Reaction from other GOP presidential hopefuls came quickly. Ben Carson said that everyone visiting the U.S. should be registered and monitored during their stay. Others outright rejected Trump's proposal. Ted Cruz spoke to NBC News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: No, that is not my policy. I believe the focus should focus on radical Islamic terrorism.

GONYEA: Jeb Bush called Trump unhinged. Marco Rubio said it's outlandish and offensive. Chris Christie said Trump has no idea what he's talking about. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was on the Hugh Hewitt radio program.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW")

DICK CHENEY: Well, I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in.

GONYEA: Arab Americans civil rights groups reacted with alarm. Nihad Awad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Trump sounded like the leader of a lynch mob.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NIHAD AWAD: If such hatred and bigotry is not outright rejected by the GOP, then it will be part of its legacy for many years to come.

GONYEA: Republican Party chairs in South Carolina and New Hampshire condemn Trump's statement. But in New Hampshire, the co-chair of a group of veterans for Trump defended it, arguing that it's no different than in World War II, when Japanese-Americans were put in camps. As divisive as this policy is, Trump did something else last night that he always does at his rallies. He portrayed himself as the man to unify the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Wouldn't it be good for all of us if we could get together and really make our country great again? Isn't that what we want to do?

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.