Adam Serwer noted last week that Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain is “winning the anti-Muslim primary hands down.” This came before Cain took this ugliness to new depths yesterday.

On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked about Cain’s opposition to Muslim Americans building a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The area has been home to an active Muslim-American community for decades without incident, but recent right-wing hysteria has made the construction of a new house of worship a point of national controversy.

Cain argued that all Muslims want to merge religion and government — a false claim — which somehow makes discrimination permissible. It led to this startling exchange.

WALLACE: [C]ouldn’t any community then say we don’t want a mosque in our community?

CAIN: They could say that. Chris, let’s go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying that they are objecting to. They are objecting to the fact that Islam is both religion and of set of laws, Sharia law. That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes. The people in the community know best. And I happen to side with the people in the community.

WALLACE: So, you’re saying that any community, if they want to ban a mosque.

CAIN: Yes, they have the right to do that. That’s not discriminating based upon religion — against that particular religion.

Asked whether he supports restricting Americans’ right based on religion, Cain added, “I’m willing to take a harder look at people that might be terrorists. That’s what I’m saying.”

It’s hard to even know where to start with such garbage.

Cain seems to suggest law-abiding Muslim Americans should necessarily be considered terrorist suspects, based on nothing but their faith, an idea so transparently bigoted it should have no place in our civil discourse.

Cain also believes Islam is unique because it has its own laws (Sharia), which necessarily makes it less deserving of First Amendment protections. What Cain clearly doesn’t realize is that plenty of faiths have similar laws for adherents.

What’s worse, as Adam explained today, “Sharia is a set of Islamic principles whose application varies based on interpretation. Ironically, by implying otherwise, Cain is insisting that the most draconian interpretations of sharia are the ‘real’ ones, Cain is supporting the religious arguments of Islamic extremists.”

But even putting all of that aside, Cain seriously believes our First Amendment rights should be open to popularity contests — if a community doesn’t like your religion, then your faith community can’t expect to build a house of worship. In this case, most of the people in Murfreesboro don’t want to prohibit the mosque, but even if 99% of the community did, Americans don’t base our rights on polls or public approval. Cain has to know this.

And remember, this clown isn’t just some random crackpot; he’s a presidential candidate saying all f this nonsense on national television. It’s genuinely pathetic, even for the right.

When was the last time Americans saw a major-party presidential candidate hopeful spewing such transparent bigotry? Pat Buchanan? Earlier?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.