Freakout — “reach out and touch someone” edition

The freakout continues on the Washington Post’s op-ed page. Today, Michael Gerson weighs in.

Sounding very much like the college presidents and diversity administrators we’ve been ridiculing, Gerson writes:

The most immediate concern should be to reassure men, women, and children — particularly Muslim Americans and migrants — who feel uncertain of their place in the new order. . . [A]ll of us should go out of our way in the small circles of our daily lives, to tell the newly vulnerable that millions of Americans will oppose bullying and threats of any kind. This has become the duty of citizenship in the Trump era.

The lead editorial in the Post echoes this silliness.

There is no “new order.” The “Trump era” has not commenced; nor does anyone know its contours.

To “reassure” people that Americans will defend them from the “new order” is perhaps the least reassuring thing we can do. If taken seriously, such assurances will alarm, not reassure.

Is there a sound basis for causing immigrants and Muslim Americans to become more alarmed than many already are? No.

Trump has disavowed his promise to deport every American here illegally. He wants to deport those who have broken the law (other than immigration law). Once this is accomplished, and assuming new illegal immigration is curbed, he will consider improving the status (legally speaking) of those who remain here illegally.

Except for criminals, illegal immigrants have no more to fear in “the Trump era” than they did during the George W. Bush era or the Obama era, until our current president began studiously to ignore our immigration laws.

As for Muslim Americans, I’m not sure what threat Gerson thinks Trump poses. He has called for “extreme vetting” of Muslims who aren’t Americans but want to come here. He wants better surveillance of hotbeds of extremism in the U.S. Both measures seem reasonable given the threat we face from Muslim extremists.

To be clear, I’m not saying that Trump’s looming presidency presents no cause for concern. His commitment to the Constitution is untested and if he possesses the authoritarian streak many of us think we have detected, that commitment may be limited.

As president-elect, however, I think Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt. Why don’t we wait and see how he approaches the presidency before panicking?

In any event, there is no reason for us to seek out specific segments of the population to “reassure.” If Trump poses a threat, it’s an “equal opportunity” one — a threat to people who stand aggressively in his way.

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