Opinion

Trump supporters think my life is worth less than theirs

Demonstrators hold signs in support of President-elect Donald Trump outside of Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., on Nov. 11, 2016. Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Reuters

(RNS) The high school I went to on Long Island taught me a lot about race. I learned about overt racism, and what we now call microaggressions.

Over a quarter of a century later, I am under no delusions that we live in a post-racial society.

The movement for, and resistance to, Black Lives Matter reminds me every day that racism is part of our national DNA. Even with all that experience, hearing the results of our presidential election shocked me.

I knew, from a policy perspective, that Donald Trump had a large constituency. Were my concerns about him only on policy, I would be disappointed in his election.

However, my fear comes from his language. He removed the thin mask of civility of our country’s original sin, and made obvious that so much of politics is driven by fear of black and brown bodies. He made clear and direct racist, sexist and ableist comments. His running mate treats homosexuals as lepers.

Therefore, when a large number of my fellow Americans vote for Trump, they say unequivocally that they consider my life worth less than theirs.


COUNTERPOINT: I am a heartland Muslim and I don’t think all Trump supporters are racist


I do believe a significant number of individuals went to the polls because they support Trump’s rhetoric. I find arguments around economic malaise important, but unconvincing. Most of the poor working class, regardless of race, voted for Hillary Clinton.

The average income of a Trump supporter is $76,000 per year, and they are overwhelmingly white. The casual acts of violent racism we are witnessing since the election of Trump are not manifestations of economic anxiety, but of racism. The media’s use of “alt-right” was a euphemism for white supremacy; the Ku Klux Klan endorsed Donald Trump because its members believe he represents their interests.

However, let us take the premise that Trump’s supporters are suffering from economic displacement, a specific, targeted displacement that only affects white people, and not the far more numerous people of color who work in those same disrupted industries.

An individual had to go into the voting booth and say that her tax break was more important than the possibility of people being put on a national registry simply because of their religion. Or worse, she did not even consider that a presidential candidate declined to condemn America’s use of internment camps during World War II. In the first case, her savings are more important than my life. In the second case, my life is not even worth her consideration. Either calculus is based on racism.

People may not have had racist intent in their voting, but the result is racist. The framework in which they made their decision is racist. That they could not open their eyes to see the consequences of their actions on other Americans is racist.

It is true that Muslims are not a race; they are the most racially diverse religious group in the country. Yet, every time people speak about Muslims, it’s like we are a race, and like we are easily recognizable.

Despite the fact that African-Americans make up the largest racial group of Muslims, as a country we imagine Muslims to look Arab or South Asian. Black bodies are hated in a different way than brown bodies are, but they are hated.

It takes a nation of millions to hold us back, and those millions showed up to vote. They are trying to hold us back, American citizens with inalienable rights endowed by their creator. They are trying to straighten the arc of history away from justice.

What they fail to realize is that carrying the weight of injustice means we will always be pointed to justice.

Imam Ali, the successor to Prophet Muhammad’s authority, said that if we are not angry when we see injustice, then we don’t deserve to be called human, but if we are ruled by our anger, then we are no better than an animal. I know I am a human being. No one can take that away from me.

I am not alone in recognizing my humanity, or the humanity of all those whose very existence is questioned by the results of the election.

After the election, I also got an outpouring of support from other citizens of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and classes, who checked in with me, to say they were there for me. I was able to say I am here for them as well.

And so, I know how brutal this country can be to its marginalized citizens. I also know what it means to build with others for a greater good. I am grateful for my friends, my colleagues, my comrades, my companions, my family and my students. They give me hope. Today is mourning in America, but soon it will be morning. I have hope.

(Hussein Rashid is an adjunct professor at Barnard College)

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Hussein Rashid

33 Comments

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  • Rather than being angry with Trump, why don’t you do something about the muslim who are trying to annihilate people? Get angry with the people who are making your name miserable. Show some respect for yourself rather than asking people to pity you.

  • “An individual had to go into the voting booth and say that her tax break was more important than the possibility of people being put on a national registry simply because of their religion.”

    Excuse me, but Hillary Clinton ALSO was a proponent of Secret Lists singling out Muslims for denying people their rights without due process. We all know the No Fly list is a mess and ends up profiling people and adding to them the list without TRIAL or a way of getting off the list, but Clinton advocated SUPPORTING that. Not just supporting that, EXPANDING it to begin stripping away not only the ability to get on an airplane, but to strip away the constitutional rights of people. No Fly No Buy is an ENDORSEMENT of profiling!!

    If you want to be angry at Trump voters for the reason of “people being put on a national registry simply because of their religion”, I am 100% Okay with you holding that opinion.

    But ONLY if you, as Surah 2 instructs, are not a hypocrite, and are also angry at Clinton voters for the same reason. You can’t condemn ONE group of voters while making excuses for the OTHERS without becoming a hypocrite, and hypocrisy is one of the greatest sins in Islam!!

    Why the devil is it only racism, sexism, homophobia, or Islamophobia when the party you DON’T like is doing it?? Why don’t you ever make a SOUND when it’s YOUR party jeopardizing minorities??

    “Imam Ali, the successor to Prophet Muhammad’s authority,”

    Well, being from a Shia background I agree with you here, but I think you’ve probably alienated with that one line all the Sunnis who might be reading, eh??

    “After the election, I also got an outpouring of support from other citizens of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and classes, who checked in with me, to say they were there for me.”

    I did too, and it genuinely disgusted me. All these people who voted for a Democrat who wants to profile Muslims then turning around and PRETENDING that they were concerned because of the Republican who wants to profile Muslims.

    If you voted Democrat, you voted for YOU, not for ME. If you acknowledge that, I have no problem with you, but please, Democrat-voters, stop PRETENDING like your vote was in MY self interest. Because it’s NOT.

  • “Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    The idea that we target a group of people in our nation solely on the basis of their religion goes against everything we hold dear as a nation. We are not going to save our nation by destroying it from within. We are not going to uphold freedoms for all of its citizens if we can’t uphold it for some of them.

    For those who want to say Islam is evil as a matter of course and its believers are presumed terrorists, let me say that you are doing the work of the terrorists. Their propaganda and recruitment efforts are based on taking advantage of those who are mistreated in democratic nations for being Muslim. They are based on the dangerously incorrect notion that our nation is at war with the entirety of Islam. Islamophobia undermines the one thing which actually aids in defeating the terrorists, moderate Muslims flourishing in democracy. Something the US manages to do despite itself.

  • I am not sure you got that 100% right. It was with respect to restricting/prohibiting access to firearms to not just those on the no-fly list but to those on other watch list databases. Republicans counter-proposed legislation which would have required a delay on a gun sale with a court ruling required. http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/not-just-the-no-fly-list/
    But you are right, both measures impact people unfairly targeted.

  • You are already numbered in your nation Spud. It’s called a Social Security number.
    “The idea that we target a group of people in our nation solely on the basis of their religion goes against everything we hold dear as a nation” hahahaha This coming from Spud! lol You do realize that Christianity is a “religion”, eh?
    Islam is evil. It is an evil cult that would kill you just for being a non-believer. That doesn’t mean that the people are all evil, but their “religious book” would have them so. Many of them display a lot of common sense for being reared in that cult.
    For the rest of your point, we agree. blessings Spud.

  • Not addressing what I said. Yes we are numbered, but not for purposes of law enforcement scrutiny. the 4th Amendment still exists. Government cannot search, detain, scrutinize us without cause.

    “You do realize that Christianity is a “religion”, eh?”

    You realize Islam is one too? Of course not! You are a hypocrite by nature. Your version of Christianity is an evil cult which inspires people to lie, to hate one another and deliberately undermine the freedoms guaranteed in our democratic nation. See how easy it is to make such arguments.

    But see the thing is, religious freedom means your opinion (or anyone else’s) on any given religion doesn’t have any relevance to how our laws work. We do not treat one faith in one way and others another way. That is precisely the kind of sectarian discrimination our 1st Amendment is designed to prevent.

    Why do you hate religious freedom so much?

  • The first step is not enabling them with nonsense talk of demonizing the entire faith. That is precisely the kind of thing they use for recruiting purposes.

  • Feel the love for Christians coming from the Spud, yet he states: “The idea that we target a group of people in our nation solely on the basis of their religion goes against everything we hold dear as a nation”
    And, an oldie but goodie just from him yesterday: Sure. I am even more loving than the tone Christians like yourself take to gays, atheists and people of other sects. :)”
    Can one not feel the love of his not “targeting” Christians? lol

  • I am only showing the kind of love Christians exhibit towards others. 🙂

    Like when someone says that discrimination, ostracism, calls for imprisonment or murder are expressions of love and concern for one’s immortal soul.

    Actually I am not. Because I am moral enough not to support that kind of garbage. Not even to people as misguided as you.

  • Sorry, I don’t open links from people I don’t know – especially people who hate Christians and don’t feel they should be treated with equality 🙂

  • You don’t want equality for Christians. You want to be treated special. To have your posterior kissed for being bestest buds with Jesus.

  • You can condemn me all you want Spud. You got caught and any condemnation of me will not change that.

  • I find this commentary more problematic than it’s counterpart by Mr. Khan. Apart from his arguments which may have a specific degree of veracity and credibility, he did not take note of the violence engendered by Mr. Trump’s detractors in their loss. I think Mr. Rashid will find that his fears will not come to pass, at least not in entirety. Campaigning is one thing, governing is another, Mr. Trump will not have a free hand to do just as he pleases, nor do I think his rhetoric was entirely serious, it was used as a political device (a rather oily one in my opinion). But Mr.Trump is a practical man, and even with a Republican Congress (with a bare majority in the Senate), the coming Congress will be centrist enough to stay any extreme measures he may propose, apart from his independent actions as chief executive, and what better example did he have in that regard than his predecessor whose penchant for executive orders was monumental. Then, of course, there are the courts, which we hope will be there to safeguard all our liberties, I am pessimistically optimistic.

  • For those devout, all three Abrahamic religions point out each’s superiority, total support from god and an admonition not to marry or befriend people of other religions. Who persecutes Jews and Muslims in America? I’m pretty sure it’s not us atheists. Yes it’s a subgroup of christians. Protestants turned the papist Irish into a hated group not to be trusted with the most menial jobs. If conflicts between the West and Islamic terrorists continue, look for more anti-Islamic behavior.

  • All religion is man-made and can exhibit the best and worse of mankind. There was a time, before we neutered god, when christians were the most brutal of all. Now we make religions in the US behave.

  • The writer apparently didn’t notice that the violence he decries is being fomented by the side that lost! This guy is either looking for his 15 minutes of fame, or he’s intent on blaming Trump no matter what. Anyone who references Black Lives Matter in any positive way, has no credibility with me. Those folks don’t believe blue lives matter, so their angry rhetoric is responsible for cop-killings. Their actions have caused the police to wisely pull back and allow black-on-black crime to keep rising, rather than to risk their lives to decrease it.

    Mr. Trump says he’ll be president to all Americans. I take him at his word. I believe we should stand aside, pray for him and give him a chance. The sore losers fomenting the violence need to find something more constructive to do with their time, like maybe go back to work!

  • “I am not sure you got that 100% right. It was with respect to restricting/prohibiting access to firearms to not just those on the no-fly list but to those on other watch list databases.”

    Technically, a lack of complete information doesn’t make a statement incorrect. Like the general statement “the sky is blue” doesn’t become false just because the statement “the sky is the color represented by the hexadecimal code #87CEEB” conveys more information about the specific coloration of the sky.

    And, regardless of the other terrible watchlists proposed to use, the No Fly list is the worst list included in the proposal, and it is also the one used most frequently in the rhetoric of its proponents, “No Fly No Buy” is the chant, after all. A chant recited by many Democrats at that appalling filibuster. A chant that endorses profiling Muslims. And a chant none of the Democrat voters who pretend they care about profiling NOW have never once denounced.

  • “The idea that we target a group of people in our nation solely on the basis of their religion goes against everything we hold dear as a nation.”

    I must ask, did you make any noise during the last eight years when the last administration did just that??

    Did you, when the Democratic Party held a filibuster not only demanding profiling Muslims, but demanding that such profiling be expanded to deny those people even more of their rights without trial??

    Or during the second debate, did you raise your voice when Clinton, DIRECTLY after saying that profiling black people was wrong, turned around and called for more profiling of Muslims??

    If you did, then thank you, the world needs more people like that. Because it seems like there are SO MANY allies when its the Republicans doing the profiling, but I don’t see half as many willing to defend when the Democrats are the ones targeting a group of people based on their religion.

  • Yes. Constantly. I think I referred to it as “defecating on the constitution in defense of our nation”. Always opposed no fly lists for lack of transparency and cruised the surveillance and entrapment programs. Thought the gun control one was a strictly political gotcha moment.

  • “He made clear and direct racist, sexist and ableist comments. His running mate treats homosexuals as lepers.”

    This is exactly what brings shame on America and the Christianists who endorsed and supported him. They need to denounce the racism some of their fellow voters are perpetrating on non white males in this country.

  • “Now we make religions in the US behave.”

    And that’s one of the best things about this country. It does require constant vigilance because there are religionists who want the government to make them #1! Thankfully we have first rate entities like PFAW and other NGOs, the Justice Department*, SCOTUS* and vigilant lawmakers to ensure that our Constitution is enforced.

    *Except when too many partisans are in charge.

  • Sable, I’ve seen no evidence that the BLM people don’t care about cops. There are people who will kill cops because they are cops, and claim BLM, but it’s not reciprocal. I think it’s really difficult for white people to understand the level of daily harassment POC endure and easy to demonize the “other.” Being nice about hadn’t worked, so it’s only natural that POC try a different approach, rather than politely watch family, friends and loved ones die.

    To clarify, are you saying people who voted for Sec. Clinton are the ones who are vandalizing mosques, verbally harassing POC, etc?

  • No Lefty-herness, it’s Trump’s people who are BAD, BAD, BAD! All evil on earth since the beginnning of time can be traced back to them!That’s what you want to hear, right? That Hilliary’s lpeople are pure as the driven snow, because they are Marxists, Right? And all you Marxists can be excused anything they do amiss, because you do it in the name of the state. There’s my phony, sarcastic assent to a double-helping of Marxist propaganda–your daily bread, so go choke on it!

  • You didn’t respond to my comment at all. You ranted and ended with something mean and punitive. All of that is completely at odds with the tone of my comment and question.

    How would you be responding if Sec. Clinton had won?

  • If Hilliary Clinton had won, I would be asking all you Marxists how you will be able to sit by and watch the Clintons continue to sell favors to despotic governments for big payments to the Clinton Foundation. I would be asking how a Christian can countenance that level of corruption right under our noses.

    The major accomplishment of the Trump win to me is shutting down the “influence-for-sale” operation Hilliary was conducting from her cozy position at the State Department. Now she has lost most of the basis for her influence-peddling, and must humble herself and go back to public speaking, which only paid her $500,000–750,000 a speech, rather than those multi-million-$ transactions, on which no one paid any taxes.

    The country certainly won when Hilliary Clinton lost!

  • Racism, bigotry, war crimes, persecution. In the West, and Trump’s America especially, it comes mainly from white christian nationalists. Black Christians should and do fear White Christians more than brown Muslims- based on race attacks and church burnings. Trump didnt create fascism but he sure gave them a bigger uglier platform. Trump isnt the peoples president, only of white supremacists and Christian fascists! Worst Prez ever and not yet in office!!!!!

  • We’ll never know the answer to “What if Sec. Clinton had won?” On the other hand, the answers for the same question are in the process of being answered.

    I don’t hope for his failure, nor for the Democratic Party to become the Party of No at the expense of the country. Whenever Republicans propose something that serves the well-being of the nation, it should be supported by patriotic Americans, including law makers on all levels. I will contact those who represent me, mostly Democrats, to urge them to support worthwhile bills.

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