Following the Brussels attacks, it's clear that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are more interested in playing tough than acting smart

In the aftermath of the Brussels terror attacks, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have once again called for repressive action against Muslims. Like previous terrorists attacks, both Cruz and Trump have been more effective in honking the horn then solving the problem. Why? Because the methods they advocate to fight terrorism are proven failures.

Let’s take for example, Ted Cruz’s idea of increasing law enforcement surveillance of Muslim communities: “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

Never mind the fact that Cruz is calling for unconstitutional religious profiling. Or the fact that he believes radicalization is an unavoidable step of the Muslim faith (“before they become radicalized”). The fact is that previous efforts by law enforcement to patrol and target neighborhoods based on faith have been failures. Again and again.

Take for example, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division mass surveillance of Muslims in New York and other states around the tri-state area. Created in 2002, the now dismantled “Demographics Unit” collected vast amounts of information on Muslims and Muslim communities. Muslim individuals were followed on their daily life routines, communities were mapped and targeted based on “ancestries of interest”, and informants were sent into Mosques to record sermons and communication between congregants.

The program was decried by many civil liberty groups including the ACLU. Even one senior official of the FBI condemned the program for creating fear and mistrust between Muslims and the police. As one interviewee told the New York Times:

“The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community…Those documents, they showed where we live. That’s the cafe where I eat. That’s where I pray. That’s where I buy my groceries. They were able to see their entire lives on those maps. And it completely messed with the psyche of the community.”

An effective public safety operation is a matter of balancing the trust between law enforcement and the community it protects. If the community is forced to feel fear and paranoia about law enforcement, what positive results should we expect? How has the issue of trust worked between law enforcement and the African American community?

More important, despite the fact that conservatives and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly claim  the surveillance program worked, there exists no evidence to support this claim. The NYPD itself acknowledged that the surveillance program did not provide any sort of leads on possible terrorists suspects. Even the failed 2010 Times Square bombing was not discovered by the police and their surveillance system, but by street vendors.

When Ted Cruz talks about giving law enforcement more power to “patrol” and “secure” Muslim communities, I cannot imagine anything that will be any different than the NYPD’s damaging and ineffective program.

Then there is Donald Trump’s relentless advocacy for water boarding, and “a lot more” torture. Perhaps Trump was too busy filming new episodes of The Apprentice or creating scam schools to have known about the CIA torture report which found that “ based on a review of CIA interrogation records… the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation”. Perhaps the quote was too complicated for Trump and his supporters, so here is an easier sentence. Torture doesn’t work. 

Of course, it makes sense. When a person is pouring gallons of water on your face non-stop , or doing some other cruel unthinkable action to make you speak, most of us will say whatever to get the torment to stop. And yet, there is the more scientific argument that torture simply messes up your victims perception of reality. As explained in Wired:

“What’s more, tortured suspects might not even realize when they’re lying. Frontal lobe damage can produce false memories: As torture is maintained for weeks or months or years, suspects may incorporate their captors’ allegations into their own version of reality. “

In face of the ineffective waste of public resources, and inhumanity of using torture as a counter terror tactic, Trump continues to blow this horn.

Of course, both Cruz and Trump promote these failed methods because they are pandering to the fears of those who are most likely to vote for them. Because in all reality, while their ideas sound real “tough” in the fight against ISIS and to deter Islamic extremism, the methods they support would do nothing – absolutely nothing! – to curb the threat of radical extremism.

That’s the scary part. In face of their ineffective failed ideas to fight terrorism, Cruz and Trump continue to be the brainless brute bullies because the people who support them only see the “other“ as a threat. Those who support Trump or Cruz are not looking to build bridges, and find solution to today’s very complex problems. For them, Muslims and terrorists are all the same. The only solution is hurt, bomb, kill!

The Republican party is turning into the party of authoritarians. Republicans want a strong man, the biggest macho man. Regardless of whether the ideas exposed by their strong man work or not. Republican voters no longer want a candidate who can provide an effective platform of governance, but a perceived “protector” to deliver them from all their fears which are often ill-founded. And The better candidate will be the one who is harshest on the “other”.

And that is truly scary.


  1. The worst thing about the support that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump receive is that it shows that there’s a large percentage of people in this country that would rather kill people than negotiate peaceful solutions. Their narrow views and lack of political savvy make them much more dangerous than any terrorist group or any neighborhood that’s dominated by African-Americans. Racism and ignorance done the “American” way in their tiny minds.

Leave a Comment