“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”*
*Unless you’re from Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Somalia or Libya
I may not have originated from one of those six Muslim-majority countries, but I am a Muslim and a part of the majority of people in this country who don’t agree with Trump’s travel ban.
Let’s start at the beginning. Trump ran on the campaign promise that he would call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Then, thinly veiled under the umbrella of security, his first attempt at an Executive Order on January 27 upgraded his rhetoric to reality, only to be met with an incredibly strong and adverse reaction by a more than dissatisfied public, and deemed unconstitutional by several federal judges on the grounds of religious discrimination.
Today he has launched a new version of the ban, but the same problems remain.
And anyone who sees this as something other than religious discrimination, is just wrong.
Temporary, indefinite, country specific, refugee or citizen – semantics don’t matter. The fact that this administration is pushing so hard for a type of faith-based policy is completely un-American. Limiting the access of our free nation, a nation that boasts “liberty and justice for all,” as if blame should be laid squarely at the feet of this particular faith’s subscribers, is not only alarming, it’s offensive.
Even President George W. Bush was careful to recognize and address Islam with dignity – specifically calling out those who undermined the values and principles of the religion, those whose acts were not and are not reflective of an entire community. President Obama followed suit, carefully drawing a line of separation between the “good” and the “bad.”
This new administration and their actions have gone out of their way to trample that line in a sweeping indictment against us all, inciting more fear, bigotry and xenophobia. The end result: leaving myself and the other 1.7 billion Muslims around the world (yes, that’s how far your reach is, Trump) more disheartened and disenfranchised than ever before.
So since you’re in the business of calling things by what you think they are, Mr. Trump, don’t dance around your intentions. Call this exactly what it is. This is a Muslim ban. This is your campaign promise.
And to anyone who may think my feelings are unjustified, a simple exercise: Describe yourself in one word. One word that’s based on your religion, your ethnicity, or your skin color. Replace the word “Muslim” with that word in all of this dialogue – replace it in everything you read, in everything you hear, on every caption you see at the bottom of your screen. Now tell me how you feel.
Describe yourself in one word. Replace “Muslim” with that word in all of this dialogue. Now tell me how you feel.
My parents came to this country with the intention of providing a life for their children that was free from oppression and inequality. A life where we’d have a voice and where the possibilities for our futures were endless. For that I am thankful. And while it’s not always easy walking around as a tall, brown man in a place where stereotyping has become our second language (I should play the lottery after how lucky I’ve been in getting “randomly” selected while traveling), I recognize the privilege I have. I also recognize that this same privilege is what’s currently being stripped away from so many.
When I think about how many families are likely to be torn apart, the hope that’ll be lost among so many, and the division that these kinds of actions amplify – I can’t help but think about how we’ve come so far forward, only to go so far backward.
In moments like this, it’s important that we all remember to band, not ban, together.