by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
I’m not exactly sure what Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” proposal or ideological tests for immigrants would entail — neither does he, I imagine — but it’s been clarifying watching the Left’s histrionics over one of the GOP nominee’s most innocuous suggestions.
The idea of a test is probably unrealistic because, of course, would-be terrorists would lie about their intentions and beliefs. Islamic terror in the United States has also frequently been committed by other Americans. So Trump’s idea wouldn’t be effective even if Congress went along with it.
The main critique from the Left, though, isn’t about the plan’s practicality but rather its aims. Why is the notion of asking a prospective American if they believes in our pluralistic values so offensive to Democrats? I can’t think of a more pertinent question — not economic status or ethnicity or even race.
The problem is that liberals assume ideological tests would have a disproportionate affect on Islamic refugees — a de facto ban. If that’s true, and Swedish, Chinese, and Indians could pass literacy tests that Pakistanis, Saudis, and Iraqis could not, doesn’t it tell us something about Islam? We’re talking about freedom of association and speech and religion. These aren’t trick questions. Now, if the skewed to those who comprehend the ideas Western liberalism, it’s only because that’s where our conceptions of liberty were hatched and cultivated. Sorry.
If you believe in secular governance and personal freedom, then welcome to America! It doesn’t matter what your complection [sic] is. If you believe religious law is preferable to secular governance — as the vast majority of Muslims around the world do, according Pew Research Center’s exhaustive study on the matter (and, for that matter, every poll ever taken on the issue) — you’re still in luck. There are numerous nations where the dream of political Islam is a reality.
Many American Muslims, to some extent, adhere to religious traditions and live under American law. So I tend to think the fear is overblown. But that doesn’t mean Islam isn’t unique among the major faiths in its reticence to modernity.