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Donald Trump got a lot of media attention this weekend for his latest racist policy position: Authorities should profile Muslim people in America to stop terrorism. On Sunday, Trump told CBS's "Face the Nation," "Well, I think profiling is something that we're going to have to start thinking about as a country."


The media reacted the way it usually does when Trump says something outrageous—with splash pages and cable news segments about the latest gaffe and what it might mean for other Republican leaders, who find themselves increasingly at odds with their own candidate.

But when it comes to the profiling of Muslim people, there may not be much difference between Trump and the rest of his party. Many of Trump's critics, both conservative and moderate, have supported exactly the same thing in the past.


Take, for instance, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who came in second to Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. During a CNN debate in the middle of that primary campaign, Santorum gave the following answer in response to a question about profiling:

We should be trying to find the bomber, not the bomb. … Obviously, Muslims would be someone you'd look at. The radical Muslims are the people that are committing these crimes by and large, as well as younger males. These are things that—not exclusively—but these are things that you profile to find the most likely candidate.

Santorum is not an outlier. Even so-called moderate Republicans have gotten on board with Muslim profiling. Consider the case of Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois. He's in danger of losing his Senate seat this year and has gone out of his way to distance himself from Trump's bigotry. But as a congressman in 2005, Kirk made the following comments during a conference at Northwestern University.

I'm OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states. I think that when we look at the threat that's out there, young men between, say, the ages of 18 and 25 from a couple of countries, I believe a certain amount of intense security should be placed on them. I'm not threatened by people from China. I'm not even threatened by people from Mexico. I just know where the threat is from. It's from a unique place, and I think it's OK to recognize that.


The undisputed champion of that particular form of Muslim or Arab profiling is New York Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and a Trump critic. Following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, King said the following:

Obviously the main international base, the terrorist threats are coming from the Muslim community. There have been 16 terror plots against New York [since Sept. 11, 2001], all Islamist-based. We’re at war with Islamic terrorism. It’s coming from people within the Muslim community by the terrorists coming from that community, just like the mafia comes from Italian communities.


It's not just rhetoric, either. From 2002 to 2013, the New York Police Department's Intelligence Division profiled the city's sizable Muslim population through its notorious and legally questionable Demographics Unit. That program, which included video surveillance of Muslim citizens and undercover surveillance of New York mosques, has been defended not just by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg but by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who ran for president in 2008 and has endorsed Trump. Trump has frequently compared the work of the Demographics Unit to his own policy of "looking at the mosques."

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