From The Atlantic:
On Thursday, Yahoo News published an interview in which Trump seemed to assent to reporter Hunter Walker’s suggestions of requiring Muslims to register in a database or giving them a form of special identification attached to their religion. Walker wrote, “He wouldn’t rule it out.” Trump’s own comments were much vaguer: “We’re going to have to—we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
Then, a reporter asked him how such a system would be different from Nazi Germany mandating the registration of Jews. “You tell me, you tell me. Why don’t you tell me,” Trump replied.
Trump sure doesn’t lack political courage. It’s not uncommon for politicians and operatives to accuse their rivals of espousing Nazi-like ideologies, but it’s hard to remember a time when a supposedly mainstream candidate had no interest in differentiating ideas he’s endorsed from those of the Nazis.
The Nazis did a lot of stuff, so it’s difficult to find a politician who hasn’t at some point proposed or supported something that’s kind of like something the Nazis did. But in this case Trump appears to support (or, at least, doesn’t deny supporting) a policy that’s a lot like the stuff the Nazis are really known for, i.e. formal “registration” of a particular religious group.
The obvious answer to Trump’s rhetorical question is “I don’t know, that’s why I asked you,” but for Trump supporters his retort will be sufficient. Turning the question back on the media works wonders for Conservative candidates even when the question is legitimate and honest (on a side note, this may be the only legitimate and honest comparisons of an American political candidate’s ideas to Nazi policy that I can recall).
It’s a no-brainer for Trump to distance himself from this proposal, which he never explicitly made and therefore could have walked away from while scoring easy Conservative points as the victim of an unfair media that put words in his mouth with “gotcha” question, etc. etc. But he’s going a different route. He’s owning this absurd proposal by refusing to disown it. And the really crazy part is that it won’t matter. Republican voters don’t mind this kind of scary rhetoric, those who support Trump have already demonstrated that they don’t think in terms of reality. And in a general election he’ll sing a more moderate tune. It’s typical politics involving atypically extreme ideas from an atypical candidate.