"Many Muslims are kind."
That's how my son ended our conversation yesterday as I dropped him off at school. He wasn't making a political statement. He was thinking aloud after we talked about why Trump wants to keep Muslims out of America.
My son's third-grade class happens to have a lot of students from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. We live in a college town with many families from overseas. His class specializes in helping students whose second language is English. The school offers an English-Spanish class, and there are almost enough students for an Arabic-English class, too.
My son was worried because his friends have been talking about how they are going to be deported if/when Trump becomes president.
"Will Ahmad need to leave America? He's my best friend."
"No. Trump won't be president. Even if he is, what he wants to do is illegal."
"You promise? You double-pinky promise?"
I double-pinky promised.
He felt better.
I felt awful.
On Wednesday, Cokie Roberts pressed Trump on how his rhetoric is impacting children. She asked Trump if he was proud of reports that some white children use comments about deportation as taunts to other children.
"What about what children are hearing from you and how they are responding to you?" asked Roberts. "What about the children?"
It's a question that remains unanswered.
Last night, my son saw that the debate was on TV. He pointed and asked if that was Donald Trump. I told him it was. My son turned down both his thumbs and booed him.
He sat down to watch just as Trump was asked if he meant all 1.6 billion Muslims when he told CNN this week, “Islam hates us.”
“I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them,” Trump replied. A moment later he said that he stood by his statement exactly as he said it.
“That's not true! They don't hate us!” my son said to the TV.
Some in the crowd cheered.
“Why is everyone cheering?”
“Not everyone. But some are. There are some who hate Muslims, and they like it when Trump says hateful things about them.”
My son couldn't quite understand why they hated Muslims. His experience is that many Muslims are kind. They're his friends. And he can feel their fear when he hears people cheer statements about Islam hating America.
He was confused and concerned.
And to be honest, so am I.