'Make America McCarthyistic Again'

Donald Trump, the American businessman turned presidential hopeful, threw out another provocation the other day. He argued there must be a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." He, in other words, advanced a religion-based exclusion to normally one of freest countries in the world. 

This is not the first time Mr. Trump has expressed his uneasiness with Islam and Muslims. Last month, he called for particular mosques in the United States to be shut down. He also suggested all Muslim Americans "register in a database." He even attacked President Barack Obama for not using the term "radical Islamic terrorism" and suggested the reason might be "there is something wrong with him that we don't know about." (Maybe Obama himself is a Muslim, in other words.)

Here in Turkey, six thousand miles away, all this rhetoric sounds quite crazy. Yet apparently, to millions of Americans, it does not. Trump is the frontrunner in the campaign to become the presidential candidate of the Republican Party. He has millions of fans who hope to see him as the next U.S. president.

Meanwhile, his biggest rival, Ben Carson, also seems to have chosen Muslims as a punching bag in his campaign. He argued last month, despite all the American values about religious freedom, that a Muslim should only be president if he or she "renounces the tenets of Islam."

Such poisonous voices coming from within the Republican Party makes me, like journalist Mehdi Hassan ironically put in a recent New York Times piece, long for the days of George W. Bush. Despite being the president hit by 9/11, and besides his hawkish bravado on Iraq, Bush was a sensible politician when it came to...

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