I am a Muslim-American and a peacebuilder. In the aftermath of a polarizing election season, the victory of President-elect Donald Trump, and an onslaught of violent hate crimes and proposed policies threatening human rights, I am struggling to simultaneously maintain my commitment to both roles and identities.
Thank you Saadia Ahmad for this piece. The discourse in this country has grown so toxic, I'm not sure how best to heal the wounds, but I know I have to try. I've seen so many people pre-judge others based on who they voted for this election, it tears at my heart.
I think there is a lot we can learn though, from those who lead the way during the civil rights movement. Bombs and guns didn't help heal the wound in our country.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, it is clear that this does not mean that we do not move against racism, corporatism, and so forth as they manifest in Trump's administration, no?
Let us make it clear that it really is bigotry, corporatism, and militarism that we move against by opposing that wherever it appears, rather than selectively.
It has been some time since I have seen a written piece that does this so well and is so whole in spirit as Ahmad's article here. Let us address the problems in our own camps so that we might better see what we are and are not objecting to.
Just passed a car (Dodge Challenger or similar) while travelling from Portland to Eugene Oregon that was black in color.
The rear windscreen had very large white supremacy symbol in middle and among the many smaller slogans painted on the sides were the words "Break jaws not laws:.
This has been brewing under the surface and has been kept alive by many factions of our society.
Welcome to the next few years of their dominance.
Eiskatze, it would appear that we view the recent events after the election through the same or at least a similar lens.
I will admit I was surprised, to say the least, that Trump won the election. I was also surprised that, given the behavior of the House of Representatives, especially over the past four years, that the republicans took Congress as well as POTUS. I guess what surprises me more than anything though is the childish behavior exhibited by those who I always had pegged as adults and that is the folks from the left. They have been worse than the republicans after Obama won in 2008!
Alas, one thing is very clear. Unless we unite as a people and stand against the monied elite rather than back stabbing our fellow citizen for disagreeing we won't get anywhere really fast.
I agree with your statement above. I think it is important to recognize the false divisions created by the artificial constructs of 'America' and the 'United States'. We are human beings. Sure, we live in our regional groupings, but the world is round, the air, water, and life itself is not bound but borders that we draw on maps. What we do to one another and how each of us interacts with our environment has impacts on us all. We must come together, as a species, to value our shared humanity and the environment that sustains us.
Great piece. I have been observing some of the same mean spirited, finger pointing, guilt tripping, patronizing and name calling from the left toward each other that is almost more disturbing than some of the trash coming from the right.
How is that going to help?
"............the point I hope to get across is that at the interpersonal level, each of us has the choice to engage with one another at a level beyond hostilityand tolerance, and with curiosity and compassion in its wake. This is where our empowerment and potential can be most impactful."
Yup. Would love to hear more of that on the left. I know people are disappointed and stressed but enough already.
"I am deeply troubled by the racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic rhetoric and violence that is on the rise."
Downtrodden people tend to get angry, and sometimes they don't know quite where to focus their anger, and who is properly to blame.
"This trend threatens the human dignity that America and Islam seek to protect and preserve."
Oh right. Nothing sexist, xenophobic, homophobic or anti-Semitic about Islam.
"Unless every person who voted for Trump is racist, sexist, or xenophobic (which I do not believe is statistically plausible), there must have been something else deeply compelling that motivated their votes for him."
Did some racists vote for him? Sure. But that says nothing more about him than Hillary being endorsed by KKK Grand Dragon Will Quigg says about her. And the way Hillary supporters define sexist is not a definition everyone shares. Most Trump supporters reject feminism, but that does not automatically translate into sexism. Many feel that modern feminism is anti-egalitarian. Some even see it as a form of sexism, and that a large number of Hillary's supporters voted for her for sexist reasons. As for homophobia, it is also certain that Trump had many gay supporters. Breitbart's Milo Yiannopolous is one such prominent gay Trump supporter. And in front of a Republican gathering, Trump pledged he would protect the rights of the LBGTQ community, and the audience applauded. And Trump commended them for that.
"Likewise, those who are experiencing immense fear, pain, and trauma from Trump winning the presidency need to be heard and recognized by those who voted for him."
Well that sucks for them. Instead of making it all about themselves and focusing on what they need from people they've been spitting on, ridiculing, and calling deplorable--people who owe them nothing--maybe they should focus on growing up. In the runup to the election, they were all about how the losers--whoever they are--should graciously accept the results of the election and come together behind the winning candidate. But that was disingenuous because they had every expectation the winner would be Hillary. And then she went down to defeat and they lost their freaking minds, and that call for adult civility from the losers went out the window the instant it turned out to be them.
"The dehumanization of Republicans by Democrats and of Democrats by Republicans undermines the pluralism that constitutes both America and Islam."
We're in the throes of a political spat with one side throwing a tantrum and the other side feeling rather gloaty. This is not dehumanization, and we'll get this out of our system soon enough. For real dehumanization, look to rigid ideologies and dogmatic religions.
"A college mentor of mine commented recently that the price of being an American is tolerance and protection of people we have disagreements with on the issues that matter most."
And what proportion of American Muslims would agree that the First Amendment protects mockery or even just criticism of Islam and Muhammad? What proportion feel they should be answerable not to secular law but Sharia law? What proportion feel death would be an appropriate penalty for Americans who blaspheme against Islam or Muhammad?
"I am finding many of my progressive, liberal, and Democratic friends unwilling to speak to or even recognize the other side, as if having any connection or communication equates to accepting or condoning what some (not all) of Trump’s supporters are doing."
Do they condone what some (not all) of Hillary supporters are doing out in the streets?
"One friend referred to his supporters as dogs needing to be tamed."
One finger pointed forward, three pointing back.
"There are stories, pains, and hopes behind positions that we often cannot see at the surface."
The Left has been assiduously policing speech, and denigrating, ridiculing, and shaming people into silence for holding views they don't agree with. And now they are shocked to discover that many people were not forthcoming about how they really felt.
"The needs of an unheard portion of our country have finally been recognized;"
The critical shifts in this election were from populations that the D's have neglected for decades, especially working poor and urban blacks. It isn't on them that they couldn't drag themselves out to vote for more of the same, or that some of them would roll the dice on the change candidate.
"it is deeply unfortunate and concerning for the other half that this occurred within the context of unprecedentedly public prejudice, violence, and threatening policies towards our country’s minorities and most vulnerable populations."
Bill Clinton gutted social services for the poor, imposed conditions which tore families apart, pushed through a crime bill which resulted in an explosion in the black prison population, and the next Democrat up ramped up deportations, embraced international violence, and created masses of vulnerable displaced populations. And the Left sat on their hands through all this precisely because these were Dem presidents.
"I fear that I may soon be coined a self-hating Muslim"
There is something inherently anti-human about religions that exalt gods by debasing humans. Even worse for women in faiths that denigrate women.
"what I am speaking from is my training in mediation and conflict resolution."
You may be feeling the impulse to use that training in conflict resolution by setting yourself up as mediator. I think that would be a wreck on a wreck.
"the best tool that mediators have to offer to parties in conflict is the question: “how do we want to move forward now?”"
Forget about the parties in conflict. This mess was the product of the engineered death of true adversarial politics. The Dems abdicated their role as bulwark against the excesses of the Right when they sold out and created the Duopoly. This would be a good time to look to ourselves and clean house on the Left. Until we do that, we don't have anything real and tangible to offer. And until then, any attempt to "mediate" a resolution from the Left will be seen as patronizing and insulting. No-one from the Left will have credibility as a good-faith, impartial negotiator.
When faced with a Trump believer, I only try to illuminate the conspiracy of the duopoly against us, that we are being both distracted and lied to by a two sided coin, working together, against, and trampling over, all of Us Citizens.
Their arguments invariably bring up topics virtually unknown to anyone not plugged into the Captured Media Distraction Machine, full of Passionate Opinions about non existent Make Believe, usually irrelevant Problems.
Explaining that the Repub/Dem arguments are a show, put on to make us think that they are at odds with each other, while the decisions and legislation that they put through always benefits the Existent Power Structure and further Punishes, Diminishes and Exploits us Citizens.
Everybody wants to move forward. Politics is the imperfect game of defining which way forward is. I for one want to peel off the Trump voters who feel like many of us on the Left do - that the system is rigged for a tiny sliver of very wealthy people to the complete disregard of the bottom 50% of the US. Half of this country is just not seeing these gains that corporate Democrats (and even Bill Maher) often trot out. Those people may have thought Democrats had their back before, but a significant fraction of them is now seeing at least the Clinton wing of the Democrats mostly just aligns with that tiny sliver. They pay lip service to "the middle class" but I rarely even hear them address poverty. As Jimmy Dore says - google half the us in poverty and see what you find. Half of the children in the US are either in poverty or damn close. Our system is so broken that a complete fraud can come in and just point out what jerks the Democrats have been and win. He doesn't have a convincing case that he can do better, and he didn't need one. Democrats handed him the election. Sounds like a significant fraction of Democrats may be wising up.
So let's move forward and find out what policies the left and the non-racist, non-misogynist trump voters - I'll call them the fair right (which I agree with Trog are a significantly large number) can agree on. I'm willing to compromise too. I'm not one to get excited about lowering taxes, but if the fair right thinks that will help US businesses, let's lower the business tax to match some of the other European countries. But at the same time, lets get rid of a lot of loopholes that allow too many companies to pay almost no tax. If the fair right wants less regulation, let's simplify the regulation but make it so that on things that matter (environmental protection, worker safety, etc.) the regulation left is actually stronger. I don't think we can get rid of the personal income tax (an important lever in balancing the tax burden towards those that can pay more including me), but it could be a hell of a lot simpler. I don't know how big a deal this supposed Political Correctness backlash was, but I'm open to reforms there too. It annoyed the hell out of me to hear on Bill Maher or from Sam Harris about places that won't let Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak or that the Southern Poverty Law Center puts her on a list of anti-Muslim extremists. Of course since the author of this piece is a Muslim, she is in a perfect position to come out in full support of both ex-Muslims and women who stay in the faith who want some major changes (which are obviously needed).