Religious freedom is a core American value, one of those things that really do make us different. We invented it. We practiced it from the beginning. And I am not going to let it go without a fight.
Watching President Obama blame the American people for having security concerns over Syrian refugees is disgusting. But watching Donald Trump refuse to rule out serious violations of Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights is equally so.
Yes, the mainstream media are trolling for gotchas. And yes, I understand that Trump’s core supporters just want a big strong alpha male who will thump their enemies. But respect for our core constitutional values is a precious and fragile inheritance. Most of the rest of the world doesn’t have our deep American faith that our rights come from God, not government, and that core among these is the right to seek God and serve Him freely.
Yahoo News asked Trump whether he would do warrantless searches of American Muslims, or issue some kind of special Muslim ID badge, the way the Nazis required Jews to wear special identification. Donald Trump refused to rule out sending the secret police after people based on their religion. You can’t get more un-American than that: “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
Now, I don’t believe that Trump would likely do that if elected. And I don’t believe the courts would let him. The First Amendment hasn’t yet been repealed, even if the culture of robust respect for the liberties it implies is being eaten away at our elite college campuses, like Yale. The trade-off is always the same: Make me feel safe, I’ll surrender liberty.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.