Sunday, January 29, 2017

Letter to My Son #6

These are strange times, my dear Malik.

I have been thinking about what topic to cover in this letter. I wanted to avoid political discourse as much as possible, but I think I will make an exception this one time. I believe this very moment will be an ugly blemish in our nation's history, and a personal recollection may be valuable to you in the future.

As I write this, the country is positioning itself in the vision of the cruel, xenophobic and hysteria-driven president Donald Trump - at lightening speed.

While the gestation that is Trump's presidency is still at its infancy, we have reason to believe that peril is abound. Friends and family are crackling with tension as we read or hear the latest development at our nations airports, which are glazed with protests as hundreds of legal immigrants and valid VISA-carriers are being held in detention simply based on their country of origin.

This is just hours following the bigoted, reckless and self-defeating executive orders that went into effect. The latest order, 'Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States", is essentially a watered down initiative to ban ALL Muslims from entering the United States. This is textbook definition of racial-profiling.

Furthermore, to ensure his vision infiltrates the country's pipelines, he sacked much of the White House staff he inherited from the previous administration and replaced them with his loyal supporters to dismantle the progressive gains of the Obama era while pushing a dark view of Islam to center of US policy-making. Trump surrounds himself in a tight circle of advisers who embrace a deeply suspicious worldview of our religion. Considering these are campaign promises he's fulfilling, it's fair to say many Americans share this hostility towards Islam. A sentiment that has been flourishing on the fringes of the American right who have been trapped into the climate of fear and suspicion because they probably never befriended a Muslim. It's so easy to fear the unknown. A few months ago, I was asked to speak to a group of university students about my experiences as a Muslim American woman who wears the hijab. I was surprised, at this day and age, that the overwhelming majority have never even met a Muslim before? At a University! I was shocked. This is one of the most liberal and diverse universities in the state of Texas!

What's even more troubling is the way this government spirals into a train wreck as it runs on propaganda, hysteria and misinformation (dubbed 'alternative facts' by the administration team) that rivals dictatorships in the "third" world. (Like the ones we occupy if they have valuable natural resources) The rulers of what some are calling 'backsliding democracy' are reckoning with media intimidation and denying access to unfavorable journalists for doing their job. Social media has only exacerbated this information warfare. For many people, it is too time consuming to ascertain what is true.

Experts are certain that the Trump presidency will continue to corrode public integrity and inflict untold damage to American leadership on the global scale. The damage has already begun, as our President sours strategic relationships on a daily basis. The million dollar question is this, "How much damage can this administration get away with and what can we do about it?"

Times like this are stressful, disheartening and agonizing. Many of us are unable to sleep comfortably at night, anxious about what lay ahead. Don't worry, though, despite the incongruous reality, we are otherwise carrying on as usual. Some of us take a 'break' from the news or social media to escape the duress that comes with staying updated. We have been fortunate enough not to be at the receiving end of harassment, or belong to a mosque or Islamic center that has been damaged or destroyed by racist punks. (Although we anticipate it, sadly) Either way - we are not laying low or concealing our identities. We are proud and raise our heads as patriotic American Muslims. I'm happy to report that the American Muslim community in Dallas, spearheaded by the beloved Shaikh Omar Sulaiman, has responded perfectly, The media is not used to such a charismatic, articulate and personable leader (With no 'foreign' accent) to represent the Muslim community. And most importantly, he is not responding with anger. Quite the contrary.

"Let me say to you that Donald Trump will never make me hate you," he told reporters at the airport protest. "And I hope that no politician will ever make you hate me."

And while there are many who view us with contempt, so many came in droves to protest with us at airports across the country. I don't recall this degree of support in the aftermath of 9/11. But we also didn't have someone like Shaikh Omar Sulaiman. He has become the local hero, and national champion for young American Muslims who look to him with admiration and inspiration. So perhaps there is something to celebrate.

I hope that time will curtail our stress and our profound concerns. I hope to have better news when I write my next letter. I also hope you will start enjoying our reading time, instead of biting on the books and crying for Naruto. (Although that is my fault, I've been tapping into my Japanese side lately) On other news, we took you to your 6-month photo-shoot and it was a success (unlike your newborn pictures). I'm already blowing them up and molding them into canvases, always thinking about where else I can put the latest round of picture frames I bought. Your father thinks I'm too obsessed with pictures. Of course I am! I'm obsessed with capturing memories, and your smiles are my main source of strength these days and your giggles are my escape during these strange times.

Until next time my sweet Malik.


1 comment:

  1. I think its really nice what you wrote, people have these wrong concepts about Islam, I personally thank you for showing the lighter side of this religion.