Donald Trump on Monday proposed punishing Americans if they don't turn in their friends and neighbors for behaving suspiciously.
"In San Bernardino, people knew what was going on, they knew exactly, but they used the excuse of racial profiling for not reporting it," Trump said during a speech in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee was presumably referring to unverified reports that a woman who lived near the mother of one of the San Bernardino shooters had noticed that the family received "quite a few packages within a short amount of time, and they were doing a lot of work out in the garage."
A man who claimed to be friends with this neighbor said she did not report the packages and the behavior to authorities because she "didn’t want to do any kind of racial profiling."
In Trump's America, however, that woman would face serious consequences. "We need to make sure every single person involved in this plan, including anyone who knew something, but didn't tell us, is brought to justice," Trump said in New Hampshire. "These people need to have consequences, big consequences."
Trump failed to mention that many of the San Bernardino shooters' neighbors described them as "quiet, religious people who didn’t attract attention or suspicion."
He also strayed slightly from the prepared remarks posted on his website, which read, "If it can be proven that somebody had information about any attack, and did not give this information to authorities, they must serve prison time."
Trump's proposal that Americans be forced to report their neighbors expands on an idea he's been peddling since last year, when he told a crowd in South Carolina, “People move into a house a block down the road, you know who’s going in. You can see and you report them to the local police. Most likely you’ll be wrong, but that’s OK. That’s the best way. Everybody’s their own cop in a way."
Those earlier remarks, however, stopped short of proposing that people be punished for not informing on their neighbors -- a hallmark of some of the most brutal and deadly regimes in history, including Nazi Germany and Russia under Joseph Stalin.
Trump's latest proposal was part of a speech during which he repeatedly vilified and attacked Muslims, as well as immigrants more generally.
As he frequently does, Trump conflated "radical Islam" with Islam in general, and warned that "Radical Islam is coming to our shores."
The Orlando shooter was a U.S. citizen who was born in the United States in 1986, at a time when the United States and guerrillas in Afghanistan were allies in the fight to contain communism.
Nevertheless, Trump said that the correct response to attacks like the one in Orlando is to ban Muslims from visiting or immigrating (Trump regularly confuses these two ideas) to the United States.
He also attacked presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who Trump said "wants to allow radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country -- they enslave women, and murder gays. I don’t want them in our country."
Trump's claim about the former secretary of state is patently false. Clinton has proposed allowing some Syrian refugees into the United States through the American refugee screening process, which takes an average of two years to approve resettlement.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that the U.S. and Afghanistan were allies in 1986. The U.S. was allied with guerrillas in Afghanistan.
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