As I paced back and forth in front of my computer this morning, awaiting SCOTUS’ decision on the dreaded Muslim Ban, anxiety reached to the tips of my fingers as I refreshed the screen every five seconds. As my eyes consumed the words on the screen, the anxiety turned into numbness. The NBC News headline read “SCOTUS in 5–4 ruling, upheld President Donald Trump’s restriction on travel to the United States from a handful of Muslim countries.” I quickly ran through the five stages of grief and attempted to place blame on someone or something for the SCOTUS outcome.
However, I refuse to shift blame on the electorate for handing a victory to the current administration. Nor do I shift blame on the Democratic establishment for selecting our former Secretary of State. The blame lies solely within us and with us; we choose not to hold accountable those in office or seeking office. We erroneously believe that we are beholden to our representatives and them not to us. We choose to be polite and ask to be tokenized through purely opportunistic photos. The primary example being that we as a community provided moral encouragement, financial backing, and most importantly our votes to former President Barack Hussein Obama. And what did we receive in return? An expansion of drone warfare which granted extrajudicial killings of Americans abroad, a more intrusive and powerful NSA, and the most aptly given title of Deporter in Chief. It sounds like the blame is being shifted onto Obama for the crises we face (Thanks Obama). The former President serves as a good case study as a symptom of the problem. So let us discuss the problem…
In the last decade, we have witnessed the birth of multiple distinguished Islamic Centers that are bastions of spiritual development. They are learning institutions that harmoniously encompass religious and secular studies, and overall they have contributed to the economic and spiritual growth of the Muslim community. However, as the Muslim community grows, our division grows with it. We create silos within silos, we gather with people of the same nationality, similar ethnic background, and we stratify our circle to a similar socio-economic background. When President Trump signed the executive order of the Muslim ban, the reaction heard from our fellow congregants was “why isn’t x country on the list, they’re the ones who produce the radicals!” We may not have created the xenophobia and racism but we purchased it in bulk. And then we resold it to our family, community, and even worse, our children. President Lincoln famously said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
The time is now for us to whole heartedly reject the Muslim Ban and work together. If not now, then when? We are in a critical historical moment and the way we react to this Muslim Ban can turn us into a forgotten thought, a footnote, or a powerful block predicated on diverse individuals coming together for the greater good. Our working together will lead to supporting every intersection that is this diverse and vibrant Muslim American experience. We will build our political power by ensuring our voices be heard through selecting the right leadership and by voting out the office holders who tokenize rather than create inclusive policies. In January, we need to swear in a new Congress dedicated to repealing this Muslim Ban and checking the President’s power. We will create and invest into institutions that will stand the test of time to ensure this will be our final darkest hour. This watershed moment will be a birth of a new era. #NoMuslimBanEver #WeWillNotBeBanned
Ammar Ahmed is Emgage Florida’s South Florida Director. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.