Donald Trump has now proposed drastic measures to deal with the threat of domestic terrorism, of the kind we recently saw in San Bernardino. His idea is to put a ban on all Muslims entering the country, period, until such time as we get all this “sorted out.”
His idea is, of course, simplistic, unworkable, and obnoxious, rivaled in simplistic unworkability only by many of the outraged responses to him. The status quo is also stupid and unworkable. These responses to him were not obnoxious because that quality is rarely applied to sentiments approved by the establishment, however lame they might be.
So let’s give some background and then offer a different proposal, differing from The Donald’s in that it is serious.
Islam is a public faith, one that does not have the same sacred/secular distinction that we do. Our sacred/secular distinction has a historic Christian foundation, but it also has a godless and apostate version. In other words, historic Christianity is also a public faith, but one which requires and recognizes firewalls between different governments under Christ. The secularist and apostate version maintains that religious devotion of any sort must be exclusively private, while our public life must acknowledge no god higher than Demos.
But in either case, this means that we in the West routinely make distinctions between political and religious commitments, and these distinctions are simply meaningless to hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants and/or refugees. They are not operating with the same categories, and a conservative Muslim simply does not treat his faith as the same kind of private and personal thing that a United Methodist bishop does. To ignore this reality is not to respect Islam — rather it is to reveal that you don’t understand the first blessed thing about it. And to pat everybody else on the head patronizingly doesn’t help matters.
This means that we can process Muslim immigrants one of two ways. First, we can recognize that for them politics and religion are intertwined, and that to address the former necessarily entails addressing the latter. We can then go ahead and do that. Second, we could pretend they are separated (when they are not), and proceed onward with a characteristic liberal serenity until a pizza parlor in Tulsa is blown up. And then we will profess ourselves mystified.
How then shall we deport? I merely suggest the outlines of an idea here — understanding that if the task of implementing this were to be turned over to Obama appointees, the execution of all this would spiral down into chaos. So just ask yourself if this is a workable idea if pursued by individuals who saw the justice and feasibility of it.
Make a master list of any and all organizations that wage, support, fund, or argue for, jihad. In other words, I am talking about active forms of violent sedition. Now having mentioned that word sedition, I am not talking about treating as sedition criticism of the existing authority. We need more of that, not less. Neither am I talking about the right of the people to alter or abolish a government that has become destructive of the ends for which government is formed. This is not the Alien and Sedition Acts, Part Two.
I am simply talking about shoot-up-the-Christmas-party-jihad. Anyone who maintains that this kind of thing is a viable option, not to mention a spiritual duty, goes on the list. And anyone who actively supports (e.g. donates, writes for, trains with, signs petitions for) any such organization is thereupon immediately eligible for immediate deportation to their country of origin. Out they go. One Facebook like of the wrong post, and they are frogmarched to the coast.
You are deporting them for political reasons, for reasons of public safety, and you are only doing it to fans of blow-things-up-jihadis. Utterly reasonable, right?
But then run a thought-experiment. If this were being done expeditiously and with enthusiasm, the very first thing that would happen is a test case like the clock-maker kid, and there would be a total hubbub about it. There would be lawyers, and injunctions, and some more lawyers, and CAIR would be treated as worthy of supplying experts to be interviewed on the teevee instead of supplying additional candidates for deportation. In other words, a tough but rational solution to a real threat would be really controversial. Yes, our test-case-kid did share that beheading video, but he was doing it in a spirit of ironic detachment. Plus, he thought it was performance art. And besides, it was a school assignment.
Now when you outlaw rational responses to real problems, at some point in the process you start getting irrational responses to real problems. And enter Donald Trump. This actually explains a large part of Trump’s appeal. Establishment lunacy is the wind beneath his wings.