By Samina Rashid
November 22, 2019
Let us focus our attention on President Trump’s recent executive order banning Muslim families from seven countries from entering the US temporarily and banning refugee services to Syrian families fleeing for their lives. Apparently this was done for the sake of making America safer and fighting terrorism. That is not the America that will go down in history as a great America.
The backlash this order received is probably unprecedented in terms of the number of citizen, legislators and State officials and Judges, who stood up and issued decrees against it. That is the America that will go down in history as a great nation. I am proud to be part of that America that allows a young single mother to work, raise her kids, and lead an independent life without societal interference in her personal matters. But when it comes to macro issues of racial discrimination, we must all take a side and choose wisely because our collective actions will be pronounced in the archives of history.
What stands us apart today from 75 years ago, is our ability to use our civic awareness and employ legal argument to take a stand against injustice, hate, and discrimination based on race in the name of political gamesmanship.
We have more tools today to bring issues of political and social injustice to light, than we had seventy five years ago, But the fight is still far from over. It is unfortunate that in today’s America, despite our tremendous advancement in technology and science, we seem still to indulge in Neanderthal practice of hate and violence against each other, sometimes in the form of naked bigotry and other times garbed in the misrepresentation of national safety. A nation that needs to keep humble hard working minorities away from its shores is not a nation that needs more security, it is a nation that needs more education in diversity and inclusion.
History has taught us many times over that breeding hate and separating each other based on race is not beneficial for anyone. When you bring different cultures together, you create a beautiful community with an open mind. At the root of every emotional conflict, or war, is the question of the other, of who we are vs who they are. This us and them is a phenomenon that has divided what could otherwise be a peaceful world. We are afraid of those who do not think, act or feel like us. Who have a different God. Who we think mean us harm.
Make no mistake. There are evil forces in this world that must be destroyed. Armies and terrorists that must be taken to task for spreading violence and hatred. But it is not a question of Islam vs Christianity, or Muslims vs Jews, or whites against blacks. The problem is much more complex and cannot be resolved by simple answers such as deport them all. Our own double standards have been exposed and it is time we looked in the mirror. It is time we admitted our part in inciting political wars and confusion that have led to our own and other’s destruction. America’s bullying in the world order must stop. Period.
War and separation will only keep this hatred ignited. We must resolve to spread education. We must learn to use weapons of mass construction, books, not bombs. Only when we stop building walls and start building bridges will be over come the divides that have split our great nation into red versus blue.
It is a dangerous social precedent. In like vein, why don’t we declare the KKK a terrorist organization?
To think that a Bay Area American female student can have her scarf pulled off her face so tight it almost choked her points to an underbelly of hate that exists in the hearts and minds of some of us. These are very turbulent and eye opening times. All is not well with us as a nation. There is hidden hate in our hearts which is spilling out into public life and which is being condoned and enabled by the powers that be. We as a civilized nation cannot afford this regression. It is up to us as citizens to arrest this tidal wave of hatred and discrimination.
We like to believe we are a role model of cultural assimilation and immigration freedom compared to other countries. Yet we have so much not to be proud of. We like to tout that we are the ‘United’ States of America. Yet we are divided in more ways than we thought. We like to believe we have freedom of speech, yet we tread on eggshells biting our tongues to make sure we make politically correct statements, in case the bitter truth has an unpleasant ring to it. We like to believe we are the champions of the fight for world freedom and democracy, yet our foreign policy is the actual cause of many ill begotten wars, wars which leave carnage on both sides.
There are wars being fought outside of us, but there are wars that we fight inside of ourselves. Wars of distrust, hatred, competition, greed, and the need for domination and supremacy. Our sense of well being comes from feeling safe for ourselves and our immediate family, regardless of what is happening to other around us. Make no mistake. Islamophobia is rearing its ugly head in our nation like never before.
The process of eliminating hate does not begin and end in the White House. It begins in each and every one of our houses.
It begins by having a dialogue with our neighbors, our children, and our local community. The great thing about America as a country is that even during our worst hour, we find the resilience to come together. They ban us and instead we band together. The real power of a nation lies not with the elected but with the people of the land. The people of America who display ignorance and hate, are people who can be brought around from hateful or ignorant behavior and beliefs, to mutual dialogue and dispersion of racial tensions.
I refuse to believe that in this day and age, hate cannot be overcome by positive intervention. As a social worker who works with kids via social emotional learning models, it is my first hand experience that hate is just form of fear. We want to build a wall to keep the enemy out yet the enemy is actually within our hearts. It is not until we find the courage to soul search and cleanse our psyche that the real enemy will be overcome. If we can address our fears, redress our misgivings about each other, we can turn fear, fight and flight into a coming together of people who simply need to learn to talk to each other in a safe place.
We must allow our homes and our minds to become a place of welcome, dialogue and transformation. My fellow Americans I beseech you, do not let the politics of hate disunite us. If they start a Muslim registry, I request my white American friends to stand up and register with me. If we all register together, they will not be able to tear us apart. But if we don’t come together, we will remain forever strangers and enemies, rather than brothers and sisters, friends and partners. We must show the courage of our conviction as a united America to overcome instruments of political and legal oppression. We still have the power and we need to use it, daily.
I am a Muslim Pakistani American, am proud of both Pakistan and America. Each country gave me something and taught me a lot. I would do anything to protect my homelands and my children, not just the two I gave birth to, but all Pakistani and American children, whether they are white, black or brown.
We the people need to show our solidarity to our government, our community and to the rest of the world. Liberty is not to be found on the streets, it begins with inner liberation. We have sat back quietly too long witnessing a mockery of the constitutional philosophy of our nation.
We the people must raise our voice against injustice and tyranny and become partners with minorities under siege. This is a call for action for us to devise and form a circle of comradeship which grows so strong that no political power or arsenal of war can quiet or defray us from marching forward and speaking up for what is right and just.
We must seek justice not just for ourselves and our immediate clan but for all humanity, all the minorities of the world who don’t count in the imperialist count of colonial politics. We must endure their flogging of both the retrogressive ISIS and the short sighted imperialistic colonial powers to create a better world for ourselves and our children. That one day, there will days of remembrance when our children will not have to quote a painful past but live in a perpetual peaceful present. That may not be this 9 year or the year, but let us continue to sow the seeds of love and unity, and at the same time be willing to fight for what is right and take a stand on issues of human justice.
Samina Rashid holds two Masters degrees, MA Communication and MSc Clinical Psychology, Certified Therapist she authored ‘It Takes A Village To Rape A Child’
Original Headline: Being Muslim in American: Part 2 Make America Safe Again
Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan