Brussels Attack

John Kasich Says Targeting Muslim Communities Would Lead to More 'Polarization'

Dangerous play with identity politics.


Gage Skidmore

As Ted Cruz is starting to sound more and more like Donald Trump—monitoring and patrolling Muslim neighborhoods is more a Trumpist idea than any kind of constitutionalist one—John Kasich, the also-ran Republican candidate for president, struck a less destructive tone in response to the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The New York Times reports:

Kasich told reporters in Minneapolis, "We are not at war with Islam; we're at war with radical Islam."

"In our country," he said, "we don't want to create divisions where we say, 'O.K., well your religion, you're a Muslim, so therefore we're going to keep an eye on you.'" He added that "the last thing we need is more polarization."

"Frankly, for those who want to preserve Islam as a religion that is not at war with the West, we alienate them, how are we supposed to ever get the information we need?" he asked.

Kasich hit on an important point here. The jihadists emerging in Europe are largely European nationals. They are children and even grandchildren of immigrants, who grew up in neighborhoods that were isolated from broader European society, with little opportunity for assimilation and, because of Europe's massive welfare state, little incentive for assimilation.

Not so in the U.S., where for more than a hundred years waves of immigrants have settled and assimilated. Cruz's call to target Muslim communities contributes to the political forces working against what's best about America's immigration culture. And though they wouldn't admit it, purveyors of identity politics do the same, scoring cheap political points and trying to attract new voters by encouraging a kind of balkanization of the U.S.

European history, in the last decade and in the last century, offers countless lessons on what to avoid in order to have a healthy, peaceful multiethnic society. "Thought leaders" and politicians in the U.S. would be wise to heed them.