Patrol Muslim neighborhoods? Really?

by Maureen Fiedler

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After the terror attacks at the airport and on the Metro system in Brussels, Belgium, our U.S. presidential candidates showed who they really are (once again).

Ted Cruz offered the latest Islamophobic policy idea. He said, "We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." Muslim neighborhoods? Ted may not know his religious geography. There may be some of those neighborhood in places like Hamtramck, Mich., which is about half Muslim in population. Maybe there are one or two in New York or Chicago.

But most Muslims in the United States don't live in "Muslim neighborhoods." They are as likely as not to be neighbors of Christians, Jews, or the unaffiliated. In fact, that's a major difference between the U.S. and Europe. Muslims are much more integrated into U.S. society than Muslims in Europe. And for the U.S., it's a major plus.

But if Muslim neighborhoods can be found, Cruz wants to "patrol" them (presumably with police) "before them become radicalized." I can't think of a better way to radicalize Muslims, or any group, than to inaugurate police patrols! The stupidity of this comment is almost beyond belief.

And then of course, there is Donald Trump, who made clear a few weeks ago that he would ban the entry of all Muslims into the United States. Now, in the wake of the Brussels attacks, he has called for increased law enforcement surveillance of mosques in the United States. "You need surveillance. You have to deal with the mosques, whether we like it or not," he told Fox Business Network. Once again ... it's a recipe for fostering radicalization.

And so is his morally reprehensible call (once again) to use torture on terror suspects.

By contrast, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all offered intelligent observations.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio responded to Cruz by cautioning against monitoring Muslim-Americans, saying that such a move would create division and harm the country's ability to gather intelligence. Mr. Kasich told reporters in Minneapolis, "We are not at war with Islam; we're at war with radical Islam."

Sen. Bernie Sanders said, "Today's attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy ISIS. This type of barbarism cannot be allowed to continue."

And Hillary Clinton, who obviously knows that the vast majority of American Muslims are as aghast as the rest of us at the attacks, called for American Muslims to be a part of the fight to help the FBI and law enforcement root out extremists.

I often think about Catholics in the 19th century, when we were the targets of religious prejudice. Or Mormons in the 19th century when they were violently pushed off to Utah. Religious bigotry was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

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