Trump Era. Threat or Opportunity for Muslims?
The fun hasn’t even begun as the storm gathers around Muslims and perhaps, some minorities. The Trump Presidency offers great danger to Muslims ranging from what now seems almost benign Obama persecution of Muslims, to the outer limits of human imagination.
Yet, this is also a great opportunity for Muslims in which all our future generations can be protected.
Let us first review the Perils.
Low grade, pervasive, anti-Muslim feelings are not new to this country, it has been present ever since the first white people came here with their Black Muslim slaves. More recently, there were some sentiments voiced but in secret so as to not make it too obvious because that might shatter the illusion of a free, democratic, America. The Houston Chronicle reported on Feb 24th 1991, that the INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) drafted plans to create a Concentration Camp (Detention Facility) in Louisiana if the President should ever issue orders to “Detain” people from several Arab and Muslim-majority countries (“Target Countries”).
After 9-11 it became a mark of patriotism to persecute and target Muslims. It was no coincidence that the first and most oppressive law was passed in 2001 called the USAPATRIOT Act which allowed the government agencies to openly target Muslims. Then-US Attorney-General John Ashcroft had already prepared the draft and presented it to a acquiescent Congress which dared not say “Nay” because that would be unpatriotic. Then Ashcroft led the charge against Muslims, putting more than 14,000 Muslims in various types of imprisonment (Detained”), without charges, without trial.
That was under George Bush Jr. When Obama succeeded him, we all felt the “Hope and Change” but nothing changed, except that the government agencies (FBI, DEA, ICE, even the local Police) became aggressively anti-Muslim while Obama made wonderful speeches about the equality of Muslims with people of other faiths. Ironically, the only interesting thing I remember about Sarah Palin, the running mate for contender John McCain, was her question in a speech sometime after the elections. “So, How’s the Hopey, Changey thing workin out for you?”.
It wasn’t. Obama’s agencies got more and more aggressive and Obama became responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people apart from the many thousands of innocent families destroyed by drone bombing in order to kill “suspects” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia and God only knows where else. The FBI bribes, cajoles or bullies Muslims into becoming Agents Provocateur; Muslims whose job it is to identify “terrorist sympathizers” or, helping to goad people into rash action that would otherwise never happen.
Early Americans had their Indian Trackers, Hitler had his Jew-identifiers and today’s FBI has these Muslim “informants”.
Just as we thought it could not get much worse, this great nation elected Donald Trump as President for the 2016-2020 term.
It could get worse and it did and he hasn’t even started yet. Trump’s cabinet picks are already on record for hating Islam and Muslims and being proud of it. Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor is on record for saying “Islam is a cancer that has infected 1.6 Billion people” and as a Field General, used torture on those captured in covert operations.
The Republican Party has turned Islamophobia into one of the foundation stones of its platform, all Republican Presidential candidates in the 2016 have spewed hate against Islam and Muslims. Candidate Trump promised to create a Muslim registry. President-Elect Trump has toned it down to a registry for all non-citizen Muslims.
Trump’s expert advisor on Islam and Muslims is Frank Gaffney,
a man who makes his living creating scare-fantasies about Islam and Muslims. Judge Sessions, Trump’s pick for US Attorney-General puts even John Ashcroft to shame, he called a black Assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and the NAACP “un-American” and “communist-inspired.”.
Republican Party members have been emboldened by Trump’s victory and see it as a validation of Islamophobia. One GOP leader recently said she does not want any Muslims while the rank-and-file have taken it upon themselves to attack Muslims and Muslim institutions across America.
Trump actually does not have to do anything more than picking his sort of people and giving them the power to vent their Islamophobia. Like Obama, he can even say nice things about Islam and Muslims (which he doesn’t) but like Obama, allow his agencies to do the dirty work of persecuting Muslims. Unlike Obama, Trump already has people in his cabinet and as heads of agencies who are known to be virulently Islamophobic.
The ride is going to get MUCH bumpier.
The ONLY way to get a change of attitudes in America is the first get a change of attitudes in America’s leadership; House, Senate and the White House. If they see that Muslims are no different from the White “Judeo-Christians”, then we have a chance of survival. Blacks, Chinese, Japanese, LGBT, they all got legitimacy only because the political leadership’s attitudes towards them changed.
How do we change the attitudes of our political representatives in Congress and the White House?
We can either buy Congress with dollars or bury them with votes. All evidence to date suggests Muslims do not have the capacity or the desire to pay a lot of money to politicians. The best our local fund raisers have been able to manage is a few measly thousand dollars that the politicians forget about, as soon as they leave our venue because they are too busy raising millions. The only way they will understand we Muslims have value is when they see us vote and the only way they can see us vote for one or another, is if we rally our individuals and communities to cooperate and vote as a bloc. The bad news of this avenue is that too many Muslim groups are happier to stay divided then they are to even meet with each other, let alone cooperate with each other.
Contrary to popular Western mythology, we do not move like a school of fish, we do not have an Unseen Hand that triggers us to move towards murder and mayhem and we do not have a web of so-called Sleeper-Cells that are just waiting for the signal to kill our neighbors. And no, Muslims are no more likely to want to destroy America (our own country) than are Christians, Jews of other faith-members.
Muslims are going to have to work hard in order to be relieved of the impending persecution and in order to create a safe future for our children. This does not mean all Muslim groups merge into a love-fest, sadly, that is unthinkable. This means, we can have groups that dislike each other’s school of thought but when it comes to matters of common interest, we agree to work together and vote together. If we can prove that we are able and willing to vote en bloc, politicians will fall over each other in order to get in our good graces and will move swiftly to remove all traces of Islamophobia. This also will help make a great change in the attitudes of the majority of non-Muslim Americans.
How do we do that?
Each group, each Mosque and each prayer-congregation needs to select or elect one man and one woman to represent them in what I would call, “The Muslim Bloc”. These representatives can get to know each other in two or three brief gatherings where they might air some of their concerns. Then these people need to elect a Council comprising 12 members, six from each gender. This panel will be empowered to make the final decision as to who Muslims should vote for and the various congregation members (who have already agreed to be part of the Muslim Bloc) will vote for whomever the Council points to.
Once Muslims have arrived at such a miraculous point, they need to stand one Muslim for a state-wide office (Governor, Attorney-General, Treasurer etc.,) and ask all congregations to vote for that person who will do no campaigning except word-of-mouth among Muslims. The goal in Washington state, is to get at least 4,000 votes for this Muslim candidate in the Primary Elections after which, the person will no longer run. This will demonstrate not only the ability, but also the willingness of Muslims to vote as a bloc and it will get the attention of politicians, not only in Washing state, but across America because politicians will think that if we can do this in Washington, we can also do it in their state.
Once we have proven our capabilities by voting, we will offer them to any politician who promises to support the right for equal protection under the constitution, for all Muslims and agrees to stand up and reject all examples of bigotry they come across. We will have to trust the politicians in the first round but if any of them fails to take a stand like so many politicians have done after giving their empty promises (like the one below), then we will vote for their opposition in the next elections. If the opposition does not agree to stand by our rights, then we simply will not vote for either of them.
Governor Jay Inslee’s Pledge (above)
The Math is simple; a few thousand votes can make or break the career of a politician. Al Franken, the senator from Michigan, won his first round by seven votes. Sen. Maria Cantwell won her first round in Washington by about 2900 votes. George Bush Jr (“King George the Worst”) won Florida in his first bid by 600 votes and that got him the Presidency from which he proceeded to destroy Muslims and set fire to the entire world. It may take as many as two electoral cycles (two years each) to drive the point home but the politicians will get the idea and move swiftly.
As Muslims in America, we can do it. All it requires is for us to set aside our own bigotry and fight the bigotry we are suffering under now and into the future if we do not take action.
Which brings me to the final question for Muslims in America, especially in Washington State; how much do you love your children’s future?