Donald Trump: Families Of Terrorists Are Fair Game Because They ‘Know What Is Happening’ (WITH VIDEO)

Image courtesy Michael Vadon, available under a Creative Commons-Noncommercial license
Image courtesy Michael Vadon, available under a Creative Commons-Noncommercial license

Believe it or not, Donald Trump’s call for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States isn’t the most offensive and outrageous thing that the GOP frontrunner has said of late. Just 24 hours before making that statement, he doubled down on his promise to hunt down the families of terrorists who attack this country. As Trump sees it, if you’re related to a terrorist, you should answer for their atrocities because you know what your son, daughter, husband, wife, etc. is up to.

Trump sat down for an interview with CBS News’ John Dickerson that aired on Sunday’s edition of “Face The Nation.” Watch here.

Trump said that he thought it was rather fishy that the families of the 9-11 hijackers flew out of the country two days before the attacks. He was certain that the hijackers’ wives “knew exactly what was going to happen” that day. Dickerson saw this as a window to press Trump on his earlier vow to go after the families of terrorists.

Trump’s response must be reproduced in full to be believed.

“Well, I would go after — well, at least I would certainly go after the wives who absolutely knew what was happening. And I guess your definition of what I would do, I’m going to leave that to your imagination. But I will tell you I would be very tough on families, because the families know what is happening.”

Well, we don’t need to imagine what a President Trump would do. In case you missed it, he said that he would “take out” the families of ISIS thugs.

Trump also hinted that if it were up to him, Saira Khan, the wife of San Bernardino attacker Tashfeen Malik, would have some explaining to do. Khan said she was dumbfounded when she learned her sister had taken part in the shooting. But Trump harrumphed that he “probably” didn’t believe her. Uh huh. You willing to say that to Khan’s face, Donald? Or to the face of anyone else who is dumbfounded when they learn their relatives have become jihadists?

It’s very telling, though, that Trump’s smear of Khan was the least offensive thing Trump said in this interview. If Trump were to get his way, he would be taking this country down a very dark path. There’s a name for what Trump wants to do–“Sippenhaft,” or “kin liability.” It is a very common form of punishment in totalitarian societies–most infamously in czarist Russia, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. For instance, Erwin Rommel, the famous “Desert Fox” of World War II, was all but forced to commit suicide in 1944 after his involvement in a plot to overthrow Hitler came to light. Had he not done so, his family would have been severely punished even before his own all-but-certain conviction and execution.

North Korea is the most infamous modern practitioner of Sippenhaft. Since the days of Kim Il-sung, anyone convicted of serious political crimes in North Korea gets packed off to a labor camp for life–and the next two generations will be born there as well, since the regime believes in punishing three generations of families. Among non-state actors, Sippenhaft is frequently practiced among gangsters and outlaw motorcycle gangs. Is this the company you want to keep, Donald?

Emily Atkin of Think Progress points out that this path would not only be very dark, but very illegal. Willful targeting of civilian non-combatants violates the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which were signed by the United States. These treaties are also part of customary international law–a fancy way of saying that they are part of the accepted standard of behavior among civilized nations.

Sounds like Trump sees such things as international law and basic decency as just one more thing in his way. It also sounds like this is yet one more item in the voluminous pile of evidence that Trump is morally unfit to be president.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.