I know what you’re thinking. What?
I couldn’t help but think that perhaps Donald Trump’s remarks were yet another rallying cry for all people upset and fatigued by the growing onslaught of hatred and demagoguery that is now in vogue in some aspects of American life. There is value in Trump’s words: they were proof that we all actually can agree on something— that he’s totally and completely wrong.
If Donald Trump has done anything, it’s awaken millions of people with exactly how quagmired the American psyche truly is. By acting as a lightning rod for political and cultural issues, Trump has proven to be a great litmus test for conservatives and liberals alike. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not Americans will change more than just the filter on their Facebook profile picture to address Islamophobia in America.
After staring at my computer screen in disbelief this week after Donald Trump called for barring Muslims’ entry into the United States, I took stock of the current situation. I was on my way to the local mosque in Spokane where the Interfaith Council would be filming the latest installment in our “Meet the Neighbors” campaign, designed to provide a how-to guide on visiting houses of worship around the Inland Northwest. The Mosque in Spokane is surrounded by barbed wire, and has been for years. This project has been months in the making, and I was determined not to let a few sentences and a news cycle or two rip my community apart. Community building takes slow, sustained, intentional action.
The truth is, our local mosque in Spokane has been surrounded by more than just barbed wire for some time. There is a deep-seated movement of anti-Muslim sentiment in my community that has been around long before Trump arrived on the campaign trail. The sad fact is that no one has been taking Islamophobia seriously in my area enough to address it in a meaningful way. There are groups who organize vigils and solidarity rallies, but I think they lack perspective when it comes to what we’re up against. I need only point to a few examples:
During Ramadan this year, “Death to Islam” was written on a prayer space with women and children praying inside. When Spokane City Council commended local Muslim advocacy groups for encouraging the outreach of Muslims’ concerns to community leaders, the meeting was met with armed protesters. Local elected officials actively deny the humanity of Muslims.
William Buckley’s words echo in my head when I think of Trump:
“Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.”
Perhaps Trump will serve as a wake up call to a party whose platform has been hijacked.
Perhaps Trump will serve as a reminder that we need to get serious about anti-Muslim sentiment in this country.
Perhaps his open distrust of his neighbors will inspire us to reach out to our own, no matter their creed or class or party affiliation.
Perhaps we should all thank Donald Trump.
- Dear President-Elect Biden: Heal the country. Pardon Trump - November 12, 2020
- My New Year’s Resolution: Go to Hell. Heal the Country. - December 20, 2019
- Want To Change the World in 2019? Set Down Your Tamborine - January 1, 2019
- Racist message reportedly found on refugee family’s home in Spokane - May 8, 2017
- How to respond to hate crimes - July 27, 2016
- 5 Easy Steps on How to Hijack the Republican Party: A Case Study on Trump - March 11, 2016
- An Interfaith Defense of Donald Trump - December 11, 2015
- People still seek God, but not in buildings - November 25, 2015
- What Parliament was missing: ACTION - October 25, 2015
- Spokane, let’s counter protest and celebrate Islam on Saturday - October 7, 2015