Saturday, July 1, 2017

Muslim Ban Proves We Are The Ultimate ‘Other’

By Nida Khan

Thursday evening at 8 PM, part of Donald Trump’s Executive Order temporarily banning people from six Muslim-majority countries went into effect. Thanks to the Supreme Court, visa applications from Libya, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia will be blocked for 90 days and resettlement for refugees for 120 days unless an individual can prove a ‘credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States’. Under this vague definition, parents, siblings, stepsiblings, half-siblings or a fiancé of someone in the U.S. for example are allowed entry, but not their grandparents, nieces, nephews, uncles, or aunts. If this appears confusing and illogical, that’s because it is. As we await the ramifications of this action in the days, weeks and months ahead, as well as SCOTUS’ final ruling on the entire E.O. later this fall, the message has been heard loudly round the world and already solidified by the highest court in our country: Muslims are the ultimate ‘other’ and will be treated as such.

Earlier this year, Pew Research conducted a survey asking people to rate religious groups based on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100 (0 being the coldest/most negative). Muslims were given an average rating of 48 degrees – less than the seven other religious groups in the survey. This is no coincidence. When most Americans don’t know a Muslim personally (or don’t realize that they know one), all they can base their perceptions on is what has been reinforced continually in the press, pop culture and society at large. When the U.S. is separated from much of the world – including the proverbial ‘Muslim world’ – by large bodies of water, many Americans have no concept of what a Muslim is in actuality.

Donald Trump campaigned for the highest office in the land by calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country until we can figure out “what the hell is going on”. Well, I can tell you what the hell is going on. This didn’t start with Trump and he’s not the only one to blame for where we are today. The SCOTUS Justices who allowed for this partial implementation to take place are guilty; the State Department that set out the arbitrary guidelines for this rollout are guilty; the news outlets that don’t bring Muslims into the conversation are guilty; Hollywood that routinely demonizes Muslims is guilty; the politicians who went along with this ban for their own political advancement are guilty; those who don’t speak up for fear of retribution are guilty; and of course well-meaning citizens who are silent because they think this has nothing to do with them or are duped into believing so are guilty.

Muslims in the U.S. only constitute about 1% of the population. When a group is in such a minority, routinely stereotyped and misrepresented, and then further silenced by not having a seat at the table, are we really surprised that the majority don’t appear to care if we start shifting policy that impacts their family members directly or people of that community? When the Trump Administration rolled out its initial Muslim ban in January, there were massive protests at airports and elsewhere around the country, as well as a flurry of attorneys that literally sat on the floor with their laptops writing briefs to assist those caught in the middle of the chaos. It was a beautiful moment; Americans of all stripes were standing, marching and protesting in solidarity with the Muslim community. Unfortunately, that level of outrage has not sustained itself in the months since. While there were protests at some airports and cities on Thursday as part of the Muslim ban 2.0 launched, they weren’t nearly on the level that we saw earlier this year. And even though there was some coverage of this ban, there was more indignation and attention paid to Trump’s tweets about Mika Brzezinski than there was about restricting entry into the United States from six countries (granted, the Brzezinski story absolutely warranted coverage, but it dominated the news cycle and made all else an afterthought).

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Source: The Huffington Post

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