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There’s a difference between speaking your mind in a way that reflects a healthy disdain for political correctness and being an outrageous, offensive, bigoted boor. Donald Trump can’t see the distinction. Hopefully Republican voters will.

Trump, the wealthy developer and TV showman who thinks he can be president, is building his campaign on a strategy of saying whatever pops into his head. This week that curious head of his has been filled with awful, hateful views of Muslim-Americans.

In response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, carried out by a Muslim couple loyal to the Islamic State, Trump is offering solutions that play to a frightened nation’s worst instincts.

He is again advocating for a national registry of Muslims. There’s a reason such a government-compiled list is unconstitutional — it grates against this country’s core values. If Trump’s suggestion conjures images of yellow stars, then you’re on the right track in gauging its wrongness.

Trump now wants to add the closing of America’s borders, not just to Muslim immigrants, but to Muslim tourists and business travelers as well. He’d slam the door even to Muslim-Americans who leave the country for travel abroad, denying them re-entry.

In defending himself from critics, Trump cited the internment of Japanese-Americans by President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, noting the decision didn’t dampen FDR’s popularity.

Two things about that remark: First, the internment stands as one of the dark blotches on America’s history, not as a tactic worth repeating. And second, running the country isn’t a popularity contest. Decisions are supposed to be made for the good of the nation and all its people, not to gain rating points.

Trump’s offensive proposals are carefully calculated. He knows the American people don’t feel safe, and whenever that’s the case, they are too easily exploited. He is taking advantage of the void left by President Barack Obama’s weak response to terrorism both at home and abroad. And he keenly understands the president has not done enough to convince Americans that federal officials can and will adequately screen the thousands of refugees headed here from Syria and Iraq.

So like any skilled populist, Trump is touching a match to those fears.

And he’s doing so in a most dangerous way. His Muslim scapegoating is particularly unwelcome in Metro Detroit, home to the country’s largest population of Muslim-Americans.

This community has worked especially hard to maintain good relations between its various religious groups throughout the war on terror. While there have been some ugly incidents, on the whole Metro Detroit has managed to live in harmony. It’s why Gov. Rick Snyder felt comfortable initially in requesting the Syrian refugees be settled here.

We don’t need Trump or anyone else stirring the hate pot.

It is encouraging that nearly all of the other Republican candidates have denounced this latest dose of poison from Trump. GOP votes must come to the same point.

We keep waiting for Trump to finally go too far, to say or do the thing that will at last break the back of his campaign. This should be it. If it’s not, those one-third of Republican voters who mistake Trump’s hateful bombast for political courage will have only themselves to blame if he wrecks their party as if it were just another one of his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos.

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