Image: AP

Hours after explosions tore through the Belgian capital of Brussels, killing dozens of people, Ted Cruz called for police patrols of Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S. “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” the presidential candidate said in a statement.

The proposal, tucked into a larger missive about “political correctness and fear,” makes clear an important truth about Cruz: Though Donald Trump’s call for banning all Muslims from entering the United States made all the headlines, his opponent’s views on Islam are no less radical.

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(Trump offered his own extreme solution when asked this morning what he would do with Salah Abdeslam, the suspected Paris attacker captured in Belgium last week. The answer: “If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding.”)

Cruz’s proposal to monitor Americans who are only guilty of subscribing to a religion he finds scary is wrongheaded and frightening, but it is not exactly unprecedented. After the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD enacted a sweeping program of surveillance against Muslims in the region that lasted over a decade. Those years of spying on U.S. citizens led to exactly zero leads on terrorism cases, according to a 2012 AP report.

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