Executive Session

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 7, 2015
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, earlier today Donald Trump called for the United States to ban all Muslims from entering our Nation. This is the single worst idea I have heard from any Presidential candidate, ever. It is inconsistent with our American values. It is inconsistent with our national history.

The Nation has looked back on events in our past--for example, the Chinese Exclusion Act or the internment of Japanese American citizens--and realized it was a huge mistake to make one significant group our enemy. It is inconsistent with the vision of our Constitution, in which all came to the United States seeking to escape persecution and to be able to practice whichever religion they chose. The Founders of the United States did not seek to make our Nation one in which only a single religion could be practiced. They did not seek to establish one religion as a preeminent religion. They instead wanted a safe haven where people could worship as they pleased, which is the heart of our First Amendment.

This idea is wrong and wrongheaded. It is wrong in the context that we are not at war with Islam. In fact, we are working in partnership with Islamic nations to take on a terrorist group known as ISIS. It is wrong in that all patriotic Americans of every religion are working together to take on this terrorist group known as ISIS. In addition to being wrong, it is wrongheaded in that making Islam the enemy is playing straight out of ISIS's playbook, which wants to create a war between America and Islam. In that sense, this type of irresponsible statement endangers our national security rather than strengthens it.

So let others stand up and embrace our citizens of every religion and recognize the partnership we are in together to take on terrorist forces, that we are working in partnership with a variety of nations that have a whole variety of religions, including Islam, to take on the terrorist force known as ISIS.