Two members of kidnapped Michigan missionary family released, sources say

Trump’s Muslim ban finds supporters in Michigan

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has faced withering condemnation since calling for banning Muslims from entering the United States — yet his popularity among Republican voters remains strong.

Critics say the GOP frontrunner is pandering to people’s prejudices, but Metro Detroiters who plan to vote for Trump insist their support of his immigration stance isn’t based on hatred of Muslims, but a concern for national security.

Supporters also say the billionaire offers an alternative to what they view as weak policies by President Barack Obama, and politicians in general.

“He exudes strength while Obama exudes weakness,” Joseph Serwach, 50, of Brighton said. “(People are) tired of weak weasel words. That’s the same reason he gets so much media attention: He’s not saying something weak or finessed by the PR team. He’s bold, quotable and seizes the agenda.”

Trump has defended his immigration statement, saying the ban would only be temporary and wouldn’t apply to American citizens. Trump’s campaign did not respond Thursday to an email seeking comment.

“If a person is a Muslim, goes overseas and comes back, they can come back,” he told ABC News. “They’re a citizen. That’s different. But we have to figure things out.”

“With Trump, I see someone who’s not beholden to a political party and political donors,” said Seth Winterholler, 30, of Grosse Pointe Park. “Just about everyone would agree that we’re fed up with Congress.

“The appeal of Trump is, he doesn’t need support and money from outside groups, so he’ll do what he thinks is right for the country, not the special interests.”

Almost two-thirds of likely 2016 Republican primary voters expressed support for Trump’s call to temporarily bar Muslim immigrants, and more than a third say his stance makes them more likely to vote for him, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Purple Strategies PulsePoll.

Another poll, conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, found that 57 percent of the respondents objected to Trump’s suggestion, while 25 percent favored it. Among Republican primary voters, 39 percent opposed the idea, while 38 percent supported it.

Nicole Laubert, a Detroit police officer, said she supports Trump as an alternative to what she said was Obama’s “weak” stance on terrorism.

“This isn’t about hating Muslims; this is about keeping Muslim terrorists out of our country,” the 45-year old St. Clair Shores resident said. “I have Muslim friends on the police force I would die for, but there are Muslims who are terrorists, and it seems like Obama never wants to say that.

“Something has to be done, and Obama isn’t doing anything to keep this country safe. Everyone wants to be politically correct, but what’s wrong with holding off on letting Muslims into the country until we can properly vet them? (Former President) Jimmy Carter banned Iranians during the hostage crisis. How is this different?”

On April 7, 1980, after students led by Ayatollah Khomeini took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Carter cut all diplomatic ties with Iran, and ordered the issuance of visas to Iranian nationals halted in most circumstances.

The order invalidated “all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today,” Carter said at the time. “We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.”

University of Michigan political science professor Christian Davenport said the parallel between Carter’s action and Trump’s proposal has some merit, but isn’t a total apples-to-apples analogy.

“It’s not a good comparison in terms of scope, since there are a couple billion Muslims in the world, and only a couple hundred million Iranians,” he said. “But it is comparable in its intent on punishing a whole group for the actions of just a few.

“To ban all Muslims is more equivalent to the persecution of the Japanese during World War II. It’s an indiscriminate form of civil liberties persecution vs. a very targeted one. It doesn’t sound like there is to be any vetting at all; he’s saying, ‘we’re unable to say who is dangerous and who isn’t, so we’ll just ban everyone.’ ”

Trump was quoted in Time magazine this week saying he might have supported the Japanese interment camps.

“It’s a tough thing,” he said. “But you know war is tough. And winning is tough. ... We don’t win wars anymore. We’re not a strong country anymore.”

Serwach said he plans to vote for Trump, although he doesn’t agree Muslims should be banned.

“I don’t agree with Trump on the Muslim idea, mainly because I love the First Amendment the way the gun guys love the Second Amendment; and also because the plan doesn’t sound workable,” he said. “All the terrorists would have to do is say they’re a different religion or that they aren’t any religion. It’s not like a nationality where you need a passport.”

Nabih Ayad, chairman of the Arab American Civil Rights League, disagreed Obama is weak on national security issues.

“It’s easy to say Obama isn’t strong enough on terror, drop more bombs, but he knows that’s not the answer,” Ayad said. “All that does is create more terrorists. He’s right to take a common-sense approach; you need more sophisticated methods, like gathering intelligence.

“Trump is a businessman. He’s going to appeal to the Hollywood-type drama. Unfortunately, this isn’t Hollywood. We’re talking about people’s lives.”

Vicky Armstrong, 50, of Clinton Township, said she’ll vote for Trump, despite her personal feelings about his character.

“I don’t care for Trump as a person, but he makes some good points about immigration and how to deal with it,” she said. “Something has to be done. We definitely need to concentrate on our own citizens before offering resources to others.”

Armstrong added Trump’s strong stand could rile up terrorists.

“He is bold, and seems like he’s not afraid to make changes — but, that could hurt us too, in terms of retaliation,” she said.

William Deschutter, 48, of St. Clair Shores, said he plans to vote for Trump because he’s not a typical politician.

“Nobody’s going to be exactly what you want, but it’s nice knowing what someone’s real view is ahead of time,” he said. “I think everyone’s sick of the status quo politicians. Every time one of the career politicians says something against him, it boosts him up.”

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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