A Proposed Registry

TimeWatch Editorial
November 18, 2016

Jonah Engel Bromwich published an article in the New York Times on November
17, 2016 entitled,Trump Camp’s Talk of Registry and Japanese Internment Raises Muslim Fears.” His opening paragraph delivers an indication of what is being considered as a means of preventing terrorist activity in the United States.

“A prominent supporter of Donald J. Trump set off concern and condemnation on behalf of Muslims on Wednesday after citing
World War II -era Japanese-American internment camps as a “precedent” for an immigrant registry suggested by a member of the president-elect’s transition team. The supporter, Carl Higbie, a former spokesman for Great America PAC , an independent fund-raising committee, made the comments in an appearance on “The Kelly File” on Fox News.” Jonah Engel Bromwich, Trump Camp’s Talk of Registry and Japanese Internment Raises Muslim Fears.” the New York Times, November 17, 2016

Now of course, Carl Higbie’s comments are, according to a Reuters article published on November 16. 2016 by Mica Rosenberg and Julia Edwards Ainsley, based upon the work of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who, according to the Reuters article, helped write tough immigration laws in Arizona and elsewhere, said in an interview that Trump's policy advisers had also discussed drafting a proposal for his consideration to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.

“Kobach, who media reports say is a key member of Trump's transition team, said he had participated in regular conference calls with about a dozen Trump immigration advisers for the past two to three months. Trump's transition team did not respond to requests for confirmation of Kobach's role. The president-elect has not committed to following any specific recommendations from advisory groups. Trump, who scored an upset victory last week over Democrat Hillary Clinton, made building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border a central issue of his campaign and has pledged to step up immigration enforcement against the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. He has also said he supports “extreme vetting” of Muslims entering the United States as a national security measure.”
Mica Rosenberg and Julia Edwards Ainsley, “Immigration hardliner says Trump team preparing plans for wall, mulling Muslim registry” Reuters, November 16 2016

The concept of a Muslim registry is a very serious matter. A registry carries with it the kind of enforcement that can only be successfully accomplished with surveillance and constant and continuous investigation. The
Jonah Engel Bromwich article in the New York Times mentioned Carl Higbie’s reference to the Japanese American Internment Program during WWII as a reasonable precedent to the Muslim Registry. If you recall the Japanese American internment camps that existed during the Second World War, you remember the investigative effort that was put forward to make absolutely sure that the program was successful. The U.S. History Website describes the WWII internment program this way.

“Over 127,000 United States citizens were imprisoned during World War II. Their crime? Being of Japanese ancestry. Despite the lack of any concrete evidence, Japanese Americans were suspected of remaining loyal to their ancestral land. Anti-Japanese paranoia increased because of a large Japanese presence on the West Coast. In the event of a Japanese invasion of the American mainland, Japanese Americans were feared as a security risk. Succumbing to bad advice and popular opinion, President Roosevelt signed an executive order in February 1942 ordering the relocation of all Americans of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps in the interior of the United States. Evacuation orders were posted in Japanese-American communities giving instructions on how to comply with the executive order. Many families sold their homes, their stores, and most of their assets. They could not be certain their homes and livelihoods would still be there upon their return. Because of the mad rush to sell, properties and inventories were often sold at a fraction of their true value.” The U.S. History Website

What was most disturbing is that almost two-thirds of the interns were Nisei, or Japanese Americans born in the United States. It made no difference that many had never even been to Japan. Even Japanese-American veterans of World War I were forced to leave their homes. But the Japanese American Internment camps were not the only “historic Precedent” to this kind of thinking.

“Anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jews were central tenets of Nazi ideology. In their 25-point party program published in 1920, Nazi party members publicly declared their intention to segregate Jews from “Aryan” society and to abrogate their political, legal, and civil rights. Nazi leaders began to make good on their pledge to persecute German Jews soon after their assumption of power. During the first six years of Hitler's dictatorship, from 1933 until the outbreak of war in 1939, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations that restricted all aspects of their public and private lives. Many of these were national laws that had been issued by the German administration and affected all Jews. But state, regional, and municipal officials, acting on their own initiatives, also promulgated a barrage of exclusionary decrees in their own communities. Thus, hundreds of individuals in all levels of government throughout the country were involved in the persecution of Jews as they conceived, discussed, drafted, adopted, enforced, and supported anti-Jewish legislation. No corner of Germany was left untouched.”The Holocaust Encyclopedia, Anti-Semitic Legislation, 1933-1939

If this action is taken, we would have come full circle in our history. One can only wonder whether or not the mind-set of those who are contemplating this registry and subsequent surveillance is aiming at as yet an un-disclosed objective. It is however clear that the direction that we have been pursuing since September 11, 2001 is one which is geared to reverse the advances made regarding the privacy and liberty of the individual. The independence of the human being has always been challenged, but today the barricade is far more restrictive than it has ever been. A careful watchfulness and a steadfast preparation is now required. As Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps is quoted as saying,

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller

Cameron A. Bowen

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