Donald Trump

Databases: Violating the Rights of Muslims and Gun Owners

Something else Donald Trump and Democrats have in common


In the future, everybody will be personally insulted by Donald Trump for 15 minutes.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

Part of what makes Donald Trump so appealing to the media but also repellant to its more elite members is that he will say seemingly anything. His ethos revolves around no ideology at all other than the idea of America "winning" over other countries. As such, he is going to recommend whatever he thinks will help with "winning" regardless of any sort of moral consideration.

So, all weekend long the political media cycle has been over what Trump wants to do about Muslims. Does he want them to be in databases? Give them special IDs? Internment camps? Whatever? Trump didn't rule anything out during an interview last week, which prompted the idea that he would be down for databases or anything else. But he didn't actually endorse a particular plan, and this caused some confusion. Then he was asked further about it and was still a bit vague.

Chas Danner at New York Magazine goes through all the conversations that happened since last Thursday and tries to put it all together to try to figure out what Trump is actually recommending. Danner is unsuccessful because Trump just says whatever sounds tough or pushes forward his concept of what "winning" looks like. The charitable interpretation is that he wants to keep track of any Syrian refugees. The uncharitable interpretation is whatever surveillance and diminishment of liberties you can possibly imagine, which he has also clearly said.

Ben Carson did specifically endorse increased surveillance of "a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American," he said in South Carolina Saturday. He also, bafflingly, said that the FBI currently only has enough funding to monitor "30 to 60 people," according to the Associated Press.

Other candidates have pushed back on this surveillance concept. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul all dismissed the idea. Rubio, though, has instead called for shutting down any location, be it a mosque or an Internet café, that the government believes is used to radicalize terrorists. On Sunday's Face the Nation, Paul went on attack against both Trump and Rubio (again reinforcing the idea that Rubio is the shadow frontrunner):

"Should we target mosques and have a database of Muslims? Absolutely not, and I think that's really disqualifying for both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio to say that we're going to close down every place that potentially has a discussion that might lead to extremism. That would require some sort of 'religious czar' that I think isn't consistent with our freedom."

Watch the whole interview with Paul here. (And remember that Paul's proposed solution is to make it much harder for immigrants from troubled countries to come to the U.S. in the first place.)

But Trump is not alone in believing that databases should be used to deny people's civil liberties. For an idea just as bad as Trump's, we'll need to cross the aisle to the Democrats. As Brian Doherty had previously noted, the New York Daily News, in its tabloid-style anti-gun push, has been calling for the federal government to ban the sale of guns to people who are suspected of being terrorists on the basis of being on federal terror watch lists.

Not actually even charged with any sort of crime. Just suspected by the Department of Justice.  

Now two Democratic representatives, Zoe Lofgren (California) and Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) are pushing forward the No Guns for Terrorists Act of 2015. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced he would push legislation in the Senate. Like most legislation, this bill's title is a lie. It all but convicts people and deprives them of not just their Second Amendment rights, but their Fifth Amendment rights as well.

Schumer and Trump, jerks of a feather ||| Credit: nnwo / photo on flickr
Credit: nnwo / photo on flickr

Schumer on Sunday put out a little sign that stated "'No fly' should mean 'no buy'" while promoting this legislation. Have these Democrats forgotten the problems with the no-fly list and the lack of due process? The Department of Justice is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and is losing, badly, because there are people on the list who shouldn't be there and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has not put into place the appropriate due process for people to challenge their inclusion. Thanks to a whistleblower, we know that there are hundreds of thousands of people on federal watchlists who have no known ties to terrorist groups. That information seems to be lost from the reporting. Note that progressive media outlet AlterNet has a story about "gun nuts" trying to stop Congress from closing this "loophole" that mentions how many people are on watchlists, but makes no mention of the ACLU lawsuits. But a search on AlterNet shows that they know full well there are huge problems with who is getting put on these watchlists.

Let's be very clear here: There is no real policy difference between what Trump is proposing and what these Democrats are proposing. They want to treat people as suspects on the basis of inclusion on a database and then control their civil liberties. They want to deprive individuals of rights on the basis of a federal classification that has little transparency or due process. This Democratic push is an absolutely cynical and shameful attempt to gin up fear-based votes. Lofgren is actually a tech privacy advocate who is fighting against government-mandated encryption "back doors" and to keep the Department of Justice from abusing anti-hacking laws. She, of all people, should know better than to just simply let the federal government deprive people of their liberty on the basis of inclusion on a list somewhere.

NEXT: A New Model for a Police Shooting Database?

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  1. What about the rights of muslim gun owners?

    1. Who’d trust a Muslim with a gun? The government?

      1. … obviously… they’re already willing to sell or give ’em to ’em…

      2. Maybe if they were to join the police unions, you know… shoot a few unarmed white kids and even up the statistics?

  2. Let’s be very clear here: There is no real policy difference between what Trump is proposing and what these Democrats are proposing. They want to treat people as suspects on the basis of inclusion on a database and then control their civil liberties.

    There is one difference. Owning a gun does not have any effect on your personality or likelihood to be a threat to anyone. The gun is an object. If you are not a threat to anyone, you will not more likely to be a threat because you buy a gun. And you don’t commit criminal acts because you own a gun.

    Islam, however, is an ideology. It is not an object. Becoming a Muslim has caused people who were not a threat to anyone become one. And people most certainly do commit criminal acts because they are Muslims.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that we should put every Muslim on a watch list. It does however mean the issue of whether we should is in no way analogous to whether we should put gun owners on a watch list. Guns are not an ideology and owning one in no way influences or determines how you behave. Believing in an ideology and a religion does. The causality goes the opposite way in the two cases.

    1. Re: John,

      Islam, however, is an ideology. It is not an object. Becoming a Muslim has caused people who were not a threat to anyone become one.

      The same can be said about becoming a Marxian. Marxians who were not athreat to anyone become extremely dangerous once they become Marxians and Marxians have killed dozens of millions of people in the last Century alone. Shouldn’t the government keep a database of Marxians and their activities?

      1. The same can be said about becoming a Marxian

        Sure it can. That just means being a Marxist is like being a Muslim and not like owning a gun. And on that I totally agree.

        And would I have supported monitoring all Marxists? Maybe, depending on just what kind of a threat they were. I am not sure how that big the threat would have to be, but it is possible that I would in some circumstances. I would never support having a database of gun owners because owning a gun could by definition never be threat. Guns are inanimate objects. Nothing about a owning gun makes you more or less likely to do violence. Ideologies in contrast can.

        1. Did you need an extra shovel? Oh, you’re good? Ok, cool.

        2. Re: John,

          Nothing about a owning gun makes you more or less likely to do violence. Ideologies in contrast can.

          And since there’s just no way a database will be used for evil purposes not intended by the original supporters, then alles ist gut, Ja?

          1. Just because not every Muslim is a threat doesn’t mean some are and that they didn’t become one because they are a Muslim.

            If I buy a gun and go out and shoot someone, my buying a gun is the reason I shot someone. I bought the gun because I planned to shoot someone. If I convert to Islam and decide it is my religious duty, my conversion to Islam is the reason I am shooting people in a way that my buying a gun never will be.

            The fact that not every Muslim is violent doesn’t change the fact that being a Muslim can in some cases mean someone is dangerous.

      2. Why are you even responding? John’s prejudice against the Other is impossible to reason with.

      3. “Islam, however, is an ideology. It is not an object. Becoming a Muslim has caused people who were not a threat to anyone become one.”

        Sometimes it’s an ideology, but I’d bet that, most often, it’s a cultural inheritance. That’s the bottom line with most religions. Ask why someone is a Hindu, or a Catholic, or a Presbyterian, or a Muslim, and probably the answer will be that his or her parents were that, and their grandparents before them.

        Are Catholics all following an ideology and slavish worshipers of the current Pope’s Marxist pronouncements? I bet that very few of the CEO Catholics (church on Christmas and Easter Only) are, and probably only a minority of even devout, church-going Catholics would be.

        This is not to say that some people don’t ADOPT Islam as an ideology. There are certainly converts to it from other faiths or lack of any real faith. And no question there are also children of relatively “easygoing” Muslim who decide their parents aren’t hardcore enough and they will “rebel” by going fundamental. I don’t doubt that for a moment. But I would wager than even among such converts and the recently radicalized, only a minority actually ever become terrorists. It’s painting with a bit of a broad brush to say all Muslims choose to follow an ideology and that ideology is the “gateway drug” to inevitably crashing planes, cutting heads, and shooting up concerts.

        1. All of that is true but not my point. The point is that it is an ideology and ideologies cause behavior in a way objects like guns do not. Therefore, the desire to put Muslims on a watch list is not the same as the desire to put gun owners there

    2. Um, actually governments did and do keep such lists. Look up the Palmer raids and HUAC. Also, back when Marxists called themselves Republicans and Anarchists–from about the Garfield through the Taft Administrations–looters were on lots of government lists in These States and abroad. Any citizen caught with a handful of marijuana seeds in 1967 is today barred from purchasing a .22–but allowed to vote!

  3. It is shocking to me that Trump can say the crap he does without repercussions. I almost feel for Carson (almost)… Trump can spout verifiably (and ridiculously) false statements like “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down”, insist that he’s right and move on.…..tacks.html

    I mean, what the fuck?

    1. It is because the people who support Trump support him as a way of telling the media to go fuck themselves. The more Trump lies and the more the media tries to make a big deal about it, the more supporting him is a way to tell the media to fuck off.

      Trump isn’t the only politician that says ridiculous shit. Obama says absolutely insulting bullshit every day. And the media laps it up and tells the public to fuck off and stop being racist and believe it. So when the media goes ape shit about Trump telling lies, his supporters just love him more because they are happy to see one of their guys get away with it.

      It is nuts I know. But this is what happens when the major media in a country commits itself to lying for one side.

      1. I agree…that’s the biggest part of his appeal, is that he insults the people (mainstream journalists) who’ve been insulting conservatives (and libertarians as well) for years while claiming they’re the objective voice.

        Trump’s candidacy is basically the “now it’s our turn to be assholes” tantrum of unhappy conservative voters. I doubt they’ll like Trump’s policies any more than they love Clinton’s, but then again the type of person who’d vote for Donald Trump or Ben Carson isn’t the kind of person who pays attention to policy. They just view politics as another form of sport and only care if their “team” wins.

        1. It’s what happens when Richard Nixon, soon to be impeached, sees a Libertarian Party forming in 1971 and signs a Campaign Subsidies law to funnel tax dollars into the maw of entrenched political soft machines. From the teats of those “major party” soft machines hang newspaper, television and radio corporations. He who robs to buy the piper, writes the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act and calls the tune.

  4. They want to treat people as suspects on the basis of inclusion on a database and then control their civil liberties.

    In the end that is exactly what these politicians are looking for: robbing people of their liberties [please STOP calling them civil liberties for the only liberties we possess are INDIVIDUAL liberties] by virtue of including their name in whatever database they happen to create for whatever purpose they declare or fancy.

    Obviously, Trump’s idea of a national database for Muslims will be roundly criticized just for the inherent awfulness of it, but alas few voices will be heard in outrage at the Democratic-sponsored legislation that purports to rob innocent people of their ability to purchase guns only because their names happen to appear in a “no-fly” list.

  5. For months now I have had a suspicion that Trump is actually a Democrat plant. Besides the fact that he has historically been a friend and political supporter of the Clintons, much of his pronouncements are world’s apart from anything like traditional consevative planks. Take away the outrageous, over-the-top populism and braggadoccio and his actual ideas, to the extent that we can glean them, are much closer to a big government, tax and spend, war hawk progressive than any kind of Reaganesque or Tea Party conservative.

    It’s no accident. I think he’s there to win the nomination and then throw the election to Hillary because even 70 percent of those who can’t stand her will still see her as more rational and experienced than a wildcard like Trump.

    On the off-chance he does win, he’d take most of his marching orders from his buddies Bill and Hill.

    It matters little to me, as I intend to vote libertarian no matter what, but the guy has “plant” written all over him.


    1. Micro, I agree 100% with you. I think he is there just to Fuck it up for the repubs and ensure a Clinton victory.

      1. Agreed. Trump is basically the stalking horse for Clinton against the rest of the Republican field…same role that Perot played for Bill Clinton against George H.W. Bush, except there Perot was pretending to be an independent.

        1. Hell, I recently began to think that virtually ALL of the Republican Candidates were being put up by the Clinton foundation (or Soros, or whoever) for exactly those reasons!

          We’ll find out in less than a year, now..

          1. That would explain everything except Trump coming out for medical hemp and 21st Amendment repeal of prohibition. I still say he is a disposable decoy to lead the GOP forward into 1933. With Hillary busy copying pot planks from Harry Anslinger, it could actually work. Both agree on looting us and embroiling us in foreign hatred and intrigue.

  6. I’m not aware that Donald Trump ever actually proposed a database. I thought that it was one in a list of options proposed by an interviewer, and Donald went off on one of the options (a border fence).

    Unless he has separately confirmed that he meant a database of Muslims (which wouldn’t shock me), I think this is all a Palinesque smear job. Perhaps even with a little iffy video editing to help it along.

    1. Our looters would never stoop to deception!

  7. I have an growing suspicion that Rick Astley will be writing Trump’s acceptance speech.

  8. Re the “rights of gun owners” mentioned above, are we to accept the quaint idea that citizens, even those who choose to exercise a basic constitutional right, that of owning firearms, actually have “rights”?

  9. No Arms For Terrorists? They plan to wrench them guns out of the cold, dead fingers of the Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Chicago and Carolina po-lice departments?

  10. bok choy

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