[Vision2020] They Came for the Muslims, but I was Not a Muslim

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 14:22:54 PST 2017

Dear Visionaries,

For who don't get the Daily News (or not getting it delievered!), below is
my MLK column.  The long version, to be published in Pocatello's Idaho
State Journal, is attached.

Read all of my columns on Islam at

After tomorrow I fear for our nation even more than I do now,


*They Came for the Muslims, but I was Not a Muslim*

By Nick Gier

*First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was
not a communist;. . . 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 out for me.*

—German Pastor Martin Niemoller

*I pledge to you that if one day Muslim Americans are forced to register
their identities that will be the day that his proud Jew registers as a

—Johnathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League

In response to the attack on a Berlin Christmas market, in which a Tunisian
terrorist killed 12 people with a stolen truck, Donald Trump said: “You
know my plans”—presumably about limiting immigration of Muslims to the U.
S. Initially, it was a total ban on all Muslims, but now it is only those
coming from countries harboring terrorists.
             On November 20, 2015, Trump also said that he would
“absolutely” support setting up a registry of all resident Muslims.
Recently Trump adviser Kris Kobach said that the transition team was
drawing up plans for such a policy, and in a November 16 interview on Fox
News, Trump spokesman Carl Higbie claimed that the internment of Japanese
Americans was a legal precedent.
            When Kobach was in George W.’s Justice Department, he helped
set up the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. This policy
required non-citizen males over the age of 16 from 22 Muslim countries to
register and have their fingerprints taken.
            Over 177,000 men dutifully came forward and, many young
innocent lives—some hard-working graduate students—were disrupted. Abdulameer
Yousef Habeeb
a young Iraqi who had been tortured by Saddam Hussein’s thugs and not
required to register, was at least given an apology and compensation: “The
United States of America acknowledges that, by not registering you did
nothing wrong [and] regrets the mistake.”
              James Ziglar, former immigration service commissioner,
admitted that “not one actual terrorist was identified. But what we did get
was a lot of bad publicity, litigation and disruption in our relationships
with immigrant communities and countries that we needed help from in the
war on terror.”

The ACLU charged that this was ethnic discrimination comparable to the
shameful Japanese internment, and Homeland Security was forced to suspend
the program in 2011. On December 22, 2016, President Obama shut it down
completely, but Trump could start it up again with a stroke of a pen.

Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general nominee, testified that he
would not support a Muslim registry, but he did say that one’s religion
could be a factor for entry into the country. Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince
Priebus refused to rule out a registry, but John Kelly, Trump’s nominee for
Homeland Security, said that it was never “appropriate to focus on
something like religion as the only factor” for immigration.

On the same day as the Berlin attack a gunman opened fire at a Swiss
mosque, injuring three, two seriously. The press has given little attention
to anti-Muslim incidents in America and Europe, where Islamophobia fueled
by right-wing parties has increased.
            In the Netherlands alone there have been 142 cases of verbal
and physical assaults in 2016, and 19 Dutch mosques have been attacked,
some repeatedly. Last year an additional 147 mosques in Germany, France,
Sweden, and Switzerland were vandalized.
            Last November three California mosques received an anonymous
letter. It warned  that Donald Trump would “cleanse” the country of Muslims
the same way “Hitler did the Jews.” There were 55 attacks on American
mosques in the first nine months of 2016.
            In 2001 the FBI reported 481 hate crimes against American
Muslims, and that number, after diminishing over the years, had risen to
257 in 2015. The most obvious cause of this is Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.
            More recent data, from March 2015 to March 2016, come from
Georgetown University, where researchers report “approximately 180
incidents of anti-Muslim violence, including: 12 murders; 34 physical
assaults; 49 verbal assaults or threats against persons and institutions;
56 acts of vandalisms or destruction of property; 9 arsons; and 8 shootings
or bombings, among other incidents.”

American Muslim and Jewish leaders have come together to protest threats
to  their communities. (In 2015 the FBI reported 664 hate crimes against
Jews.) On February 28, 2016, 250 people gathered at the mosque in Fremont,
California, and Rabbi Michael Lerner warned: “We can smell fascism when
it’s arising, and it’s beginning to arise in the country, and it scares us.”
          As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, let us
remember that the  Declaration of Independence promised an “unalienable
right” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This applies to
those who live here as well as those just coming to our shores.  As King
once said: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same
boat now.”
            Nick Gier of Moscow taught philosophy at the University of
Idaho for 31 years.  Read all of his columns on Islam at


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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