by Ben Shapiro
Today, the media declared Donald Trump a Nazi. Why? Well, according to outlets ranging from NBC News to The New York Times, Trump endorsed the idea of registering all Muslims in the United States with the government.
There’s only one problem: he didn’t.
To understand what Trump actually said, it’s necessary to understand that Trump is essentially a Magic 8 ball when it comes to answering media questions without full information. Trump’s 2016 slogan is “Make America Great Again,” but his secondary slogan could be, “Wing It With The Donald.” His go-to answer when he’s asked questions about topics he doesn’t really get is something along the lines of, “We’re going to have to look at that.”
With that in mind, here’s how the “Trump as Muslim-registering Nazi” meme got going.
As Joel Pollak writes at Breitbart News, the idea of a Muslim database originated not with Trump but with a reporter for Yahoo! Trump declined to answer the question, probably because he didn’t understand it or its implications. So he gave his go-to “I don’t get it” answer: “We’re going to have to – we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
CNN quickly jumped on the story. Sara Murray asked Trump about a national Muslim database – to which Trump answered that he had no idea “where you heard that…I never responded to that question.” When pressed, Trump insisted, correctly, “I never responded to that question.” He declined to answer the question again – again, because Trump never rules things out when he doesn’t understand the proposal at hand. He stalls.
That didn’t stop the headlines. Next, NBC decided to ask about the Muslim database that originated in the head of a Yahoo! News reporter. “Should there be a database system that tracks the Muslims here in this country?” Trump answered, “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it. But right now, we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall, and we cannot let what’s happening to this country happen any longer.”
It’s clear from this exchange that Trump believes the NBC reporter, Vaughn Hillyard, is asking about new Muslim immigrants, not all Muslims currently in the United States – which is totally plausible, given the wording of the questions. After all, Trump has been discussing Muslim refugees, which is the national conversation, not all Muslims; the reporter then asks about “the Muslims here in this country,” to which Trump says that he’d register new Muslim immigrants coming into the country: “It would stop people from coming in illegally. We have to stop people from coming into our country illegally.”
Registration of new immigrants, by the way, is exactly the proposal made by the Obama administration; visas are a method of registration.
But now Hillyard and Trump are talking past one another. Hillyard asks, “Should there be a database system that tracks Muslims of this country?” The question is now more clearly worded, but Trump doesn’t hear it: his answer is all about illegal immigration again: “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it. But right now we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall and we cannot let what’s happening to this country…” At which point Hillyard interrupts him, asking “Is that something your White House would like to do?” Trump answers, “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”
Later, Hillyard, thinking he’s got Trump on the hook for registering all Muslims in Gestapo-like fashion, not just new Muslim immigrants, says, “Mr. Trump, why would Muslim databases not be the same thing as requiring Jews to register in Nazi Germany?” Trump, puzzled and annoyed, says, “You tell me.”
The media has jumped on all of this to suggest that Trump not only favors a Muslim database, but originated the idea. Sam Stein, the smear artist reporter for The Huffington Post, tweeted about “Trump’s Muslim database idea.” Time reported, “Donald Trump Is In Favor Of Legally Requiring American Muslims to Register on a Database.” MSNBC reported, “Trump crosses new line, endorses database for American Muslims.”
It’s clear from the conversations that Trump doesn’t know he’s being asked by NBC about registering all American Muslims rather than merely Muslim immigrants. That’s not an excuse for his bloviation and lack of clarity. But it does show the hypocrisy, once again, of a leftist media that refuses to treat Democrats by the same standard. For example, when Hillary Clinton was asked at a New Hampshire town hall meeting about Australia’s mass gun confiscation, she gave a Trumpian answer: she said it was “worth looking at.” Unlike Trump, however, she understood the question, as was clear from her full response. There were no headlines in major media about Hillary endorsing wholesale gun confiscation.
That’s the way this game works. The media have learned Trump’s Magic 8 ball routine, so they’ll just begin asking him more and more ridiculous questions, waiting for him to say, “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” then label his cryptic answer an endorsement of their ridiculous policy proposals. Trump should be ready for it. So should Americans.
UPDATE: Donald Trump has now tweeted to clarify his position:
Benjamin Aaron Shapiro is an American conservative political commentator, columnist, author, radio show host, attorney and media consultant.https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/oembed.json?