Carson Takes Trump’s Xenophobic Idea And Runs With It: ALL ‘Foreigners’ Should Be Tracked In Database

In America, you are more likely to be killed in a movie theater by a mentally disturbed white guy with a legally purchased AR-15 than by an immigrant, but that hasn’t stopped the conservative movement from descending into a xenophobic hate spiral that rivals some of the worst in American history.

In the last week, America’s right-wing has floated everything from “banning all Muslims from coming to the United States,” to “closing all mosques,” to building concentration camps modeled after the ones built to house Japanese-Americans during World War II. Their latest big idea is to start requiring Muslims and immigrants to register in national databases so the government can track their movements at all times. Requiring all people of a particular race or religion to identify themselves for special scrutiny by officials? If that sounds “Hitler-esque,” it’s not. It’s Hitler-exactly.

In August 1938, German authorities decreed that by January 1, 1939, Jewish men and women bearing first names of “non-Jewish” origin had to add “Israel” and “Sara,” respectively, to their given names. All Jews were obliged to carry identity cards that indicated their Jewish heritage, and, in the autumn of 1938, all Jewish passports were stamped with an identifying letter “J”.

This new take on an old, insidious idea was first floated by – who else? – Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric has been as appalling as it is popular with ultra-conservatives. However, Trump would not take his “database” comment further than saying he thought it was worth consideringThat distinction now goes to Trump’s rival, Ben Carson, who took Trump’s idea and ran with it.

In remarks to reporters, including the Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel, Carson agreed with Trump that databases are needed to track what he called “foreigners” and said to not do so would be “negligent.”

So now, the Republican Party has evolved from scapegoating Syrian refugees to scapegoating any immigrant who comes into the country. This should be read as xenophobic racism and fear-mongering and nothing more. In fact, the data has shown that immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than the native population. They are far less likely to be arrested for violent offenses. They are far less likely to be sent to prison.

[N]umerous studies going back more than a century have shown that immigrants—regardless of nationality or legal status—are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.”

America has a violence problem, but immigrants have consistently stayed out of it.

In light of their relative crime rates, implementing a program of increased focus on immigrants at the expense of focusing on, say, home-grown right-wing terrorism, is xenophobic-driven madness. Carson will probably score some cheap points from his rapidly anti-immigrant base, but his policies have no bearing with what might actually help keep Americans safe. It’s all for show – and dangerous.

One might encourage Carson to visit the National Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. the next time he is in town. He would do well to consider the words “never again” and reflect on their meaning. The Nazis were just people. Their supporters were just people. They allowed themselves to be consumed by fear and hatred to the point that they lost all humanity. The phrase “Never Again” doesn’t mean just a holocaust, it means: Never again will we allow an irrational hatred, inspired by fear and xenophobia, to compromise our values and project prejudice onto a people who have done nothing to us aside from look, believe, or worship differently.

Unfortunately, with front-runner Republican candidates openly calling for persecution to boost poll numbers, I fear things will get worse before they get better.

Feature image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr