Editorial: After Brussels, reckless words from Trump and Cruz
When Donald Trump first raised the idea last year of deploying torture in the fight against terrorism, we thought he might just be unaware that it is banned under international, domestic and military law and that almost no one of stature supported its revival. But it has become clear in the months since that he wasn't just striking a tough-guy pose: He truly believes torture is a proper tactic.
Trump said so again Tuesday in wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, while justifying his stand with a curious comparison between the U.S. and the Islamic State.
"I think we have to change our law on, you know, the waterboarding thing, where they can chop off heads and they can drown people in cages and heavy steel cages and we can't waterboard," Trump told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "So we have to change our laws, and we have to be able to fight at least on [an] almost equal basis. We have laws that we have to obey in terms of torture. They have no laws whatsoever that they have to obey."
Trump talks as if depravity on one side necessitates depravity on the other, and that civilized standards are an intolerable disadvantage. In fact, civilized standards are a long-term advantage whatever short-term edge they might provide on occasion — and we do emphasize "might."
Once again, Trump didn't stop with waterboarding, either, but endorsed "other," unspecified methods of torture that go further. It was an extraordinary performance for a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.
Meanwhile, Trump rival Ted Cruz's call on Tuesday for U.S. law enforcement to "patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized" was almost as disturbing. Which Muslim neighborhoods in America are the police ignoring in their patrols and enforcement? What on Earth is he talking about?
This country is not immune to home-grown Islamic terrorism, of course, as the San Bernardino attack once again demonstrated late last year. But no one credibly compares Muslim communities in the U.S. with, say, Molenbeek in Belgium, which is clearly a seething center of jihadist sentiment.
It's one thing to argue, as Cruz also did Tuesday, that New York ought to revive its efforts to infiltrate and surveil Muslim groups and businesses in an effort to uncover dangerous plots. In our view the practice trampled on individual rights, and Mayor Bill de Blasio was right to stop it, but reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of such programs.
However, talk about "securing" U.S. Muslim communities is just plain inflammatory. If Cruz wants to present himself as the more palatable GOP alternative to Trump, he should retreat from his unfortunate words.
~ The Denver Post
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