Scoundrel Time

Battling Islamophobia

The Senate Healthcare bill—which the American Medical Association has criticized for its failure to “first, do no harm”—is weighing heavily on our minds this week. If you haven’t yet let your senators know your feelings about the bill, now is the time to act. Indivisible also provides a number of recommended actions, including urging your Democratic senators to filibuster by amendment.

But, as Jen Hoffman writes in this week’s Americans of Conscience activism newsletter, there are many important issues “not getting enough attention as a result of AHCA.” Just yesterday, June 26th, the Supreme Court decided that, in October, it will hear arguments on Trump’s travel ban. In the meantime, the Court is allowing portions of the ban to go into effect. Trump is portraying this action as a victorious 9-0 ruling in favor of the ban, but in reality, it isn’t a ruling at all; the ruling won’t occur until the fall. Even so, the limited version of the ban—which prevents people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen “who lack any ‘bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States’” from entering the country for 90 days and bars all refugees from entry for 120 days—could begin in fewer than 72 hours.

The ban purports to be a measure “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” but clearly is targeted against Muslims; each of the six listed countries has a majority-Muslim population. And, as Noah Feldman wrote in his January 30th opinion piece in Bloomberg, “the order doesn’t reach…all countries that produce terrorists. It conspicuously omits Saudi Arabia, from which 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 attackers hailed.” Need I also mention that in 2015 Trump called for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”? For good reason, civil rights groups have argued since the ban’s first iteration in January that it unconstitutionally discriminates against Muslims.

Meanwhile, violence against Muslims has been on the rise, not only in our own country, but all over the world. “Hate crimes are increasing nationwide, and there has been a spate of recent attacks targeting Muslims,” Jonathan Blitzer notes in a recent New Yorker article. In the face of this violence, the response from our Commander-in-Chief has been lackluster, at best. Earlier this month, Vox’s Sarah Wildman identified “a disturbing pattern of Trump’s apparent reluctance to condemn anti-Muslim violence while reflexively condemning violence purportedly carried out by Muslims.” Indeed, our president’s rhetoric works to blame “Islamic terrorists” whenever possible while failing to condemn white supremacists and others who enact violence towards Muslims.

In the wake, last week, of the brutal murder of Nabra Hassanen, a seventeen-year-old Muslim young woman “remembered as a shining example of kindness and openness,” Blitzer noted, “Members of the community, especially the young people, wanted to be free of fear. But, barring that, they wanted to be free to feel it, too.” Free, in the so-called Land of the Free, to name hate-crimes when they occur, but, more importantly, to live without the exhaustion of constantly being judged and targeted. We must fight to ensure that Muslims share in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our nation supposedly guarantees for all. The following actions can help us begin this essential work.

ACTIONS:

1. Make sure you understand what the travel ban says and what the Supreme Court decision means.

2. If you are not Muslim, educate yourself about the religion and its history, and use that knowledge to dispel the myths that feed Islamophobia.

  • Watch this video created by MuslimGirl founder and editor-in-chief Amani al-Khatahtbeh, and follow her three pieces of advice:
    • Stand up for “people whose identities have already been under complete assault.” Identify and speak out against Isalmophobia when you encounter it. (Islamophobia is defined by the Anti-Defamation League as “the fear, hatred and discrimination of Muslim people…manifesting itself in personal biases, rhetoric, education, politics, hate crimes, and more.”)
    • Let Muslim women talk, and actually listen. Amplify those voices however you can.
    • Support small businesses, initiatives, and projects being led by Muslim women.
  • Read “How To Be An Ally to Muslim Women & Truly Embrace Intersectional Feminism” by Bustle’s Noor Al-Sibai
  • Read Tariq Yusuf’s “How to be a Muslim ally in the Trump era” in The Seattle Globalist (includes a helpful list of organizations working to defend the rights of Muslims)
  • Take a look at Saadia Faruqi’s “3 Ways to Be an Ally to Muslims” at Sojourners (focused on interfaith activism)

3. Make noise.

  • (From Jen Hoffman’s Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience) “Insist that our elected representatives condemn acts of violence against Muslims:
    • Write: A postcard/letter/email to your three MoCs (lookup).
    • Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [town, ZIP] and heartbroken about the increasing attacks on Muslims in our country. Worse, our president refuses to acknowledge these events publicly, giving the impression that it’s okay to hurt fellow Americans because of their religion. I am writing to ask Sen./Rep. [name] to use her/his media channels to loudly and clearly condemn these attacks when they happen. Even if our president fails to set a good example, your constituents need to know you are offended by and oppose this violence. Thank you. Name (and address, if you want a reply)
  • Call your Members of Congress (lookup) and ask them to take action to stop implementation of the travel ban.
    • Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [town, ZIP], and I agree with Amnesty International USA executive director Margaret Huang that, rather than keeping anyone safe, the travel ban demonizes millions of innocent people. The ban does not reflect our values as a country, either morally or constitutionally. I am calling to ask Sen./Rep [name] to use his/her power as a member of Congress to call for legislation to nullify the travel ban. Thank you.

4. Read, read, read.

As Jodi Paloni wrote in her Feburary 1st Actions post, “Reading is a political action. Stories can, at least for the time we spend in the narrator’s world, give us a lens on different perspectives than the one we know.” Reading expands and changes your mind, and better equips you to have that same impact on others. Here are some good lists to get you started.