As an American Muslim, watching this election play out has been interesting, to say the least. But while it is tiring to hear an endless back and forth about the “Muslim” problem, Trump’s reach extends far beyond just simply Muslims. And this simple fact poses a big problem.
It’s easy to think that if Trump wins the election that there’s not much he can do. The legal systems in place are too complicated and rigid for any truly radical change that Trump might claim to bring. But Trump’s reach is further than just the presidency.
The problem with Trump is not Trump himself but rather the ideals he claims to represent. As much as we like to think of him as an anomaly—a charlatan, Trump represents a very real section of American society that very much believe in his cause. If Trump were to become president, automatically anyone who has ever harbored a prejudice suddenly has a license to act on that prejudice. If we elected Trump to the highest office of our land, then we are, in essence, also accepting that Muslims don’t belong in America, and all Hispanics are illegal immigrants from Mexico.
There’s a famous poem about the Holocaust by Martin Niemoller that I think of whenever I think of Trump’s America:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
You always think that people like Trump are a joke or a simple fad that will fade—right up till the point where they begin to directly affect you.
Just look at Pakistan. Once a country that was promising to pull itself up from a third-world country, it is now falling apart in many ways. In the 1980s, Pakistan’s government passed the Blasphemy Law, effectively declaring a small minority sect of Islam called Ahmadis, who believe the Messiah had already come, are non-Muslims and kafirs. For an Ahmadi to even say they are Muslim is punishable by a jail sentence. First, Pakistan started to persecute Ahmadis—and the Sunni majority remained silent. Nowadays, it’s common for Shi’as to be massacred as well as Pakistan’s poor Christian minority. Pakistan’s reputation is in shatters—its score on the human rights scale embarrassingly low. It makes one wonder: what if Pakistan’s majority Sunni population said something?
Precisely because they are a minority, precisely because they are not you it’s easy to look away and not see the impact these prejudices have on overall society.
The immigrants that Trump wishes to ban from America, whether they are illegal or Muslim, all have something they can contribute to American society. Just because a small minority of Muslims or a small minority of illegal immigrants are in fact detrimental doesn’t mean we should block all of them out. As with all issues, the truth is far more complicated than black and white.
This article was written by Baaria Chaudhary. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Cassie Ulvick