American flag waving in blue skyWritten by Don Byrd

On CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday, presidential candidate Donald Trump was asked about his continued call for religious profiling, and for generally increased surveillance of Muslim-Americans in response to terrorist acts committed around the world in the name of Islam. Despite host John Dickerson’s efforts to clarify his positions with some specifics, Trump was pretty vague in his answers, particularly when comparing his law enforcement proposals to the screening process at his own rallies.

See if you can figure out what he means. Here are quotes from the Face the Nation transcript (my emphasis):

DICKERSON: And you said you would check respectfully the mosques. How do you respectfully check a mosque?

TRUMP: Well, you do as they used to do in New York, prior to this mayor dismantling.

By the way, if you go to France right now, they’re doing it in France. In fact, in some instances, they are closing down mosques. People don’t want to talk about it. People aren’t talking about it. But look at what they’re doing in France. They are actually closing down mosques.

DICKERSON: Can I ask you just a bottom-line question before we move on? You like to speak plainly. In December, we talked, and you said there possibly should be profiling. Just as a bottom line here, are you talking about increasing profiling of Muslims in America?

TRUMP: Well, I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country. And other countries do it.

And you look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it. And they do it successfully. And I hate the concept of profiling. But we have to start using common sense, and we have to use — we have to use our heads.

I see people that — and I have seen it recently. We had a case where very much in my case, where we had — we had tremendous numbers of people coming into a speech I was making. And people that obviously had no guns, had no weapons, had no anything, and they were being — they were going through screening.

And they were going through the same — the same scrutiny, the absolute same scrutiny as somebody else that looked like it could have been a possible person. So, we really have to look at profiling. We have to look at it seriously.

And other countries do it. And it’s not the worst thing to do. I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to use common sense. We’re not using common sense.

Someone that “looked like it could have been a possible person?”

In America, we don’t screen people based on whether they look like they are possibly Muslim. And we don’t close down mosques as a law enforcement screening strategy.

Whether they profile in France is irrelevant. We should set the standard in religious freedom protection for the world to follow, not imitate the strategies of other nations. And our leaders should speak clearly, not in code or with ambiguity, that America is welcoming of all faiths; a place where all are free to worship and practice their religion according to their conscience.