Cruz plan to target Muslims off base

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz wants law enforcement to patrol Muslim neighborhoods.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz wants law enforcement to patrol Muslim neighborhoods. AP

Terrorists, indeed, are a menace to society. And so is Ted Cruz. Both tend toward incendiary devices to make their point.

This week, the world saw yet again sickening carnage in a European city, four months after Muslim terrorists claimed responsibility for the November massacre in Paris. Once again, in Brussels, people going about mundane activities — catching a flight, commuting to work — were the victims of suicide bombers’ who lacked any hint of human decency.

These extremists did not even have to board a plane. Arriving at the airport in a taxi, they just rolled suitcases packed with explosives into the terminal and detonated two blasts of terror. About an hour later, there was another explosion, at a Brussels subway station. In all, 31 people were killed, and 270 others were injured in the attacks.

The Islamic State issued a statement which threatened to launch new attacks and promised that countries taking part in the coalition fighting the extremists will suffer “dark days.”

And, of course, there’s the handwringing, the questions asking Brussels ignored Turkey’s warning in 2015 that one of the bombers had been designated a “foreign terrorist fighter.” After all, European security officials feared for weeks that a a large-scale attack would occur. Yet, any efforts to thwart it were hampered by what Belgian officials acknowledge were indefensible lapses to act on the alarm that Turkey sounded.

It was a mistake that cost dozens of people their lives, hundreds more their well-being and millions around the globe any sense that their governments can keep them safe and secure.

In the United States, security, and the lack of it, is front and center during the raucous, raunchy and downright scary campaign for president. Hillary Clinton told CNN that, “We have to toughen our surveillance, our interception of communication.”

She said, too, that, “We have to also toughen … ‘soft targets,’ with greater police presence — there is no getting around that.” John Kasich issued a statement calling for the United States to strengthen its alliances to confront the “challenge from these and other actors of evil.” Good points both. Bernie Sanders rightly affirmed that the fight is against terrorism, not the Islam religion.

Donald Trump reiterated his fantasyland plan to ban all Muslims from this country. A divisive and discredited dream that even Mr. Trump has been said to repudiate — but it does rouse the rabble.

As for Mr. Cruz? “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” the candidate said in a statement after the Brussels bombings. Unfortunately, his is one more uninformed, un-American and counterproductive solution to the complex challenge of thwarting terrorist acts and, as important, preventing young recruits from being seduced by ISIS and other militant extremist groups.

He dangerously dismisses the fact that the majority of Muslim Americans, too, are horrified by the violence in the name of their religion. He sees little need to forge fruitful relationships with Muslim communities to develop sources — which, Belgian police consistently failed to do. And he insults Muslims who serve in our military, heal the sick, educate our children and who are woven tightly into the fabric of American life.

Plus, some version of his misguided proposal has already been tried. It failed. In 2012, the Associated Press reported that, “In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloging mosques, the New York Police Department's secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.”

Americans should reject this scapegoating. Sen. Cruz’s vision, indeed, will lead to “dark days.”