Ted Cruz’s Muslim surveillance plan is not upsetting at all

Khadija Saifullah

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of April Fool’s Day, all material appearing on the Opinion page today is satirical and meant in jest. The opinions expressed on this page are not meant to be taken literally.

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has produced some concerning xenophobic rhetoric. However, when considering the perspective of the candidates, their beliefs and propositions start to make a lot more sense. 

In reaction to the tragedy in Brussels, Ted Cruz said that law enforcement should “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods “before they become radicalized.” Aside from raising multiple civil concerns, and proposing that law enforcement should casually secure 3 million people in the country because of their religious beliefs, Cruz’s proposal seems like a repetition of a failed experiment. A program called the Demographics Unit, which lasted from 2003-2014, used officers in everyday clothing to monitor conversations and whereabouts of people in Muslim-populated areas in New York.

I’m sure you would definitely be able to predict “Islamism” from spying on a family dining at New York Pizzeria struggling with a crying baby in arms. Or from a group of Muslim girls in head scarves catching up over coffee at Starbucks in Times Square. This program was a failure, and although it took place over a span of ten years, it did not lead to a single investigation by the NYPD. Unfortunately, Muslims are not as interesting as Cruz suspects them to be. 

In fact, Cruz is actually right. Investing in a surveillance program again would probably introduce law enforcement to biryani, a south Asian dish well-known to Muslims that is full of the very spices that were so appealing to the British. Perhaps driving by neighborhoods with a spice detector on hand and an astute sense of the smell of food would direct law enforcement to suspicious homes. 

Cruz may stumble upon Muslims distributing clean water to the victims of the Flint Water Crisis in so-called “Muslim neighborhoods.” As a Muslim myself, I can assure that Muslims are definitely worried about their wallets because of this proposition. Surveilling mosques means that law enforcement will get to witness all sorts of absurd parking issues, parents dragging their kids to prayer or men arguing about sports.

Interestingly enough, Cruz, who, using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” at least 10 times when discussing Muslims, acts like it’s the only association he has with this minority group of 3 million American citizens. His overly-used phrase is just another way of categorizing the Muslims he’s afraid are too religious, too covered and too fresh-off-the-boat from Arabia for his liking. I’m sure he gets goosebumps when hearing references from one of Disney’s most famous films, “Aladdin.”

This is not the first proposition of minority surveillance in history. In fact, the very country that engages in this sort of surveillance of minority groups, Cuba, is the same country from which Ted Cruz’s father escaped for America. I guess he’s a fan of repeating history, even when it has lead to the failure of a country’s government — though any U.S. Congressman will tell you he has a particular talent for that.

According to Pew Research, the state of Texas itself has some of the most Muslim-populated cities in the country, including Austin, Dallas and Houston. Islam has also become the second-most-practiced religion in the Lone Star State. This evidence should be a wake-up call to realize how important it is for surveillance to start right here at Halal Bros and Kismet Cafe, popular Muslim-owned restaurants right near campus where you usually find a variety of students just chilling between classes, catching up with their peers or simply grabbing food. These threats to our liberty must be eliminated.

Saifullah is a nueroscience sophomore from Richardson. Follow him on Twitter @coolstorysunao.