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Saturday, August 19, 2017

In the wake of the horrific attack in Nice yesterday, Newt Gingrich appeared on Fox News to assert that “Western civilization is in a war” with Islam and that individuals “of a Muslim background” in America should be tested for their adherence to sharia: “If they believe in sharia, they should be deported.”

As David A. Graham of The Atlantic has pointed out, though, this is impracticable, unconstitutional, and incredibly intolerant. Although it is often used in American political parlance to signify extremism, “sharia” refers to the Muslim code of conduct, not an official set of laws or a declaration of war.

Deporting individuals based on their religious beliefs seems about as explicit an example of a violation of the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion as you can find… aside from most of the rest of Trump’s ideas.

The man who is not Donald Trump’s VP pick also has a pretty extensive history of comments targeting Muslims, even though prior to the mid-2000s he had relationships with conservative Muslim groups and even helped create a Muslim prayer space on Capitol Hill.

Taking to Twitter today to defend his remarks, Gingrich derided what he called the media’s “amazing distortions” of his remarks, announcing that he would host a Facebook Live conversation at noon. Check it out here.

But the fact remains: Prosecuting a religion is un-American. There’s no way around it.

Would Gingrich use the same logic to prosecute visitors to white supremacist websites like StormFront, or anyone who uses the hashtag #whitegenocide? Right wing extremists commit terrorism, too — just as much as any radical cult. Does Gingrich want thought police?

Photo: YouTube/Fox News

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