An Open Letter To Mr. Donald J. Trump About What America Really Is

Flickr / Gage Skidmore
Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Mr. Trump:

The Pledge of Allegiance of our United States claims “liberty and justice for all.” Perhaps, at a time in our nation’s history, when many are still facing oppression, both by their neighbors and by the law, this phrase does not necessarily ring true. Yet – it is the call of our Pledge. To ban people of our world who identify with a different faith than yourself would be to ignore the principles for which we, as a nation, stand.

Your comments advocating for a “ban on Muslims” assume that all people of Muslim faith prescribe to the same beliefs in and acts of violence that have been exhibited by a very small minority of this population. While it is true that the horrendous acts in Orlando, FL, and San Bernardino, CA, were committed by people who happen to be Muslim, it is also true that many violent acts of terror have been committed by those who you, Mr. Trump, might consider unassuming – white men. Yes, white men, like yourself. The list is quite long: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School, Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School, James Holmes at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Dylann Roof at a church in Charleston…and these are only a sample. Banning people of Muslim faith would not rid our country of the seemingly daily acts of violence committed across the nation. It would prevent a group of people – a group that largely practices peace – from enjoying the freedoms of our nation. If you want to figure out “what the hell is going on,” maybe you should consider taking a look at these white men and trying to understand their actions. Don’t ascribe the violence of a few members of the Muslim faith to the entire Muslim population. It is irresponsible.

We can’t expect that preventing a certain group of people from visiting or living in our country will remove all of the problems we face as a nation. In fact, barring entry to a select group of people is certain to cause more tension between majority and minority groups in the United States, and perhaps even lead to more hate crimes directed toward people who appear to be of Muslim faith. We already see a rise in reports of murder and assault after your discussion of such a ban. What, I fear, would happen were such a ban to be enforced? I believe in acceptance and inclusion of all cultures. I fear for the society we would become – or revert to – if we were to exclude and further oppress pockets our population.

What scares me is that your ideas for a Muslim-American registration and a mandate for faith-identification cards are eerily similar to our world’s most notable acts of terror against a group of people based on their faith: the identification, encampment, and mass murder of Jewish people in Europe during World War II. We cannot again become a society that complacently discriminates so widely and explicitly against a single group of people. We saw it in the Jim Crow era against people of color. Don’t let us relive our, and the world’s, horrifying history.

Banning Muslims is not the answer to our problems. As a presidential candidate, it is not ethical to promote discrimination against any person in our nation on the basis of ethnicity or religion, among other identifiers. You are expected to be representative of the values our nation holds and are expected to handle international relations with civility. With such a ban, who in the world is to trust us? Who in the world is to believe us when we say we are a society that allows for the freedom of religious expression? I would be ashamed to live in a country that allows people to practice their religion – as long as they aren’t Muslim. I urge you to cease considering creating such an environment of our country.

Maybe our problems with violence are gun issues or mental health issues. But, those are separate topics that require their own examination. Our society has a dark history of oppressing many groups of people, and the United States has tried to atone for some of its actions. I beg you not to guide our country down a path that encourages hate and exclusion. As the “leader of the free world,” the President of the United States cannot support or encourage the prevention of freedoms. If you are to seriously consider taking the office of President of the United States of America, you should celebrate diversity and inclusion of people from all diverse backgrounds while also ensuring everyone’s safety, not just the safety of those who look and think like you.

If and when you see and respect that our country is a land of many cultures and ideas, you will understand the necessity for a leader who encourages the expression of various ideologies. To figure out “what the hell is going on,” take a hard look at the data and the facts and the trends. People of the Muslim faith are largely not out to “slaughter us,” as you say. Something needs to be done to reduce the level of gun- and bomb-related violence in our country, but banning those who practice Islam is not it. TC mark

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