We don’t need hyperbole

In the midst of eye-catching headlines of about the “Muslim Registry,” the real threat to our freedom — the revival of NSEERS — may slip by unnoticed.

Ever since news broke that Trump reinstated his call for a Muslim Registry, social media has been a twitter with statements like these : “Trump’s proposing a registry of all Muslims? How terrible! I know, I’ll sign up so that Trump will never know who the real Muslims are!”

This is an aweome statement of solidarity from some really well-meaning people. Unfortunately, it totally ignores how the proposed registry would actually work. It’s not targeted at US citizens, but at immigrants. It’s technically not even targeted at a religious group of immigrants, but those come from countries where extremist organizations are active.* And it’s probably not going to take the form of an online sign-up — we’re talking interrogations and finger-printing.

“So what?”, you may be thinking. “We know where the Trump administration is going with this! He’s definitely going to expand it.” I happen to think so too. But jumping to oppose something in a form it hasn’t taken yet is a wasted effort.

I think this comes from a well meaning place : people are concerned that the coming danger won’t be clear enough. And maybe it’s effort to rally the base by using simple, consumable sound bites.**

But where will the excitement we're drumming up go when allies realize that they can’t fight it by identifying as Muslim? What will happen if the Registry surpasses legal challenges because it doesn’t target citizens?

Once the Registry is in place, every incremental expansion is that much easier. And if we only focus on some future state, we’ll miss the chance to nip it in the bud. By the time it clearly crosses constitutional grounds (perhaps — though I pray not — in the wake of another attack in the US), it will be too late.

And if I’m wrong, and it’s never expanded beyond a registry of non-citizen visitors from certain countries, it’s still worth opposing as an ineffective use of resources that is discriminatory (even if not unconstitutionally so) in a way that reinforces the idea that one should be suspicious of all Muslims.

We don’t need hyperbole. What’s actually going on is frightening enough.

*Of course, im not disputing that this will likely mean Muslim-majority countries, not France or England where groups may also be active.

** I say this because I’ve seen a couple of mentions that we (on the left) are bad at organizing and have lost the messaging war. I’ll save thoughts on that for another time.