The Gordian Knot that Donald Trump has tied around the Republican Party tightened considerably when the presidential frontrunner issued his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
If there was any doubt, that bind became clear within the span of about 10 minutes during a press conference Speaker Paul Ryan held on Tuesday morning with the House Republican leadership in the Capitol. As the GOP’s top elected official in Washington, Ryan has pledged to stay publicly neutral in the party’s primary race. He ended his introductory remarks, however, with a strong denunciation of Trump’s proposal—delivered entirely without uttering the candidate’s name.
“Normally, I do not comment on what’s going on in the presidential election,” Ryan began. “I will take an exception today.”
This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House, working everyday to uphold and to defend the Constitution.
Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims—the vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy, individual rights. I told our members this morning to always strive to live up to our highest ideals, those principles in the Constitution on which we swear every two years that we will defend.
Ryan also reminded reporters that when the House voted last month to suspend the Syrian refugee program, he made clear that there should be a security test—not “a religious test”—on people entering the U.S. Freedom of religion, he said, was a “founding constitutional principles.” His aides let it be known that Ryan had told Republican lawmakers in private that Trump’s proposal violated two different amendments in the Bill of Rights: the First and the Fourteenth.