There is a sad and troubling irony here. By refusing to call them radical Islamic terrorists, our incumbent president is unwilling to make the distinction between the few Muslims who have wrapped their terror in the cloak of the second largest faith in the world from peaceful and law-abiding Muslims. And two men who hope to succeed him are incapable of making a similar distinction.
The reality is that these perspectives undermine serious efforts to combat this global scourge domestically. For presidential candidates to suggest that the broader Muslim community writ large poses a threat is both wrong and counterproductive. Law enforcement needs the cooperation of the Muslim community to identify potential terrorists within. We need stronger relationships with those communities and such self-serving rhetoric complicates law enforcement efforts to do so.
There is another problem with the proposed policies of Trump and Cruz: They are in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The political speak of Trump or Cruz can be reduced to a few simple disturbing sentences. All Muslims are potential terrorists, so ban entry to the United States. All residing in Muslim communities are potential terrorists, so we need increased police activity in those neighborhoods. This is hardly a constitutionally conservative approach to reducing the threat of a terrorist attack. They might instead emulate the constructive approach taken recently by New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who is hiring more Muslim officers to build a bridge of trust and solidarity within the community.