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December 4, 2018

The age of Trump

Opinion

December 4, 2018

Politics in the United States has been a roller coaster of emotions for American Muslims ever since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in the summer of 2015. As we all so vividly remember, he announced his bid for presidency with a hateful tirade against immigrants from Mexico.

It wasn’t long before Muslims and their faith also became a target of candidate Trump’s attacks. How can we forget his announcement – “I, Donald J Trump am calling for a complete and total ban on the entry of Muslims into the United States until….”.

As we watched his campaign in complete incredulity, we kept assuring ourselves that such a hate-filled campaign could never be successful. Then came the night of November 8, 2016. The results of the presidential election rolled in, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now in November 2018, two years of Donald Trump’s presidency have passed. During this time we have seen one norm after another, of decency and decorum, broken by the president of the country, and with seeming impunity. His party, in control of both chambers of the US Congress, has been too scared to play their role in the checks and balances the American constitution requires.

For an American Muslim like myself, these recent developments in American politics have been particularly shocking and even heartbreaking. Much has been brought to the fore about the latent fears, hatred and bigotry among so many in the country. What Trump was able to recognise and further stoke exposed for me a side of the American psyche that I had believed was long buried in the trash heap of the country’s history.

We as American Muslims continue to try and understand the real nature of the country and its people. We are still trying to understand the country we have made our home. We believed in and still believe in the promise of America – of justice, and opportunity and respect for all: an ever-evolving multi-ethnic society where all citizens can find their own place, and reach their fullest potential.

During the two years of the Trump presidency, several of us have questioned whether there will be a place for American Muslims in this society. Some of us toyed with the idea of emigrating to yet another country – even decades after having made the US our home.

As we can already see, the US will continue to be a very strong influence on the world for the foreseeable future. It will be a force for good, as it has often been, or a destructive force, as it has also often been, depending on the choices the people of the country make in selecting their leaders and in holding them to account for their actions.

The results of the November 2018 elections have given us hope. Donald Trump’s party has lost control of one chamber of the US Congress and a most diverse group of men and women has been elected to the Congress; they include several Muslim-Americans. So, finally, there may be some checks on his erratic, destructive behaviour and hateful, divisive politics. Finally, members of minority communities such as American Muslims will have a door to knock on if our rights get trampled on.

One silver lining in the cloud has been an awakening among all minority groups about the importance of active participation in the civic and political life of the country.

We may not always have a government that protects the constitutional rights of minorities, but we will not be silent spectators in the politics of the country.

The writer is an American Muslim ofPakistani origin, based in Washington DC. He is a former executive at a major multinational company.

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