Opinion

Filled With Dread, American Muslims Wake Up to Trump's America

Before Trump's victory, the racists, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes might have hesitated to say it out loud: 'Go back to your country.' But now, they see it took them all the way to the White House.

A woman wearing a Muslim headscarf walks past people holding U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump signs in New York City, September 25, 2016.
Reuters

Just a few days ago, I was telling friends, family, and pretty much anyone that would listen, that I wanted this election to be over. It was so nasty and so ugly that I felt like no matter who won, we'd be better off just knowing. We could move on. What an idiot I was.

I’ll tell you now that I’d rather this election have lasted until the end of time than have to experience, for even one more day, what I do now. Absolute dread. The feeling of falling. With no idea where the bottom is.

I went to sleep to markets crashing. I wake up to a world panicking.

My country was supposed to be the last, best hope for humanity; instead my country, the world’s wealthiest and most powerful, has become the world’s most threatening. Muslims everywhere are terrified. Except the radicals. They’d be popping champagne in Raqqa if they drank champagne. A Donald Trump presidency is every jihadist’s dream come true. Their numbers had been falling. Their territory shrinking. Everything changed for them.

From here on out the racists will be even more emboldened. They’ll have five words for me. “Go back to your country.” They might've been ashamed to think it. Afraid to say it. But now it took them to the White House. They will not be restrained. The radicals will have one fewer word for me. “We told you so.” This is who they are, they'll say. They will never accept you. For fear of you being an equal part of their society, they voted for the KKK candidate. Such is their hate of Islam.

A man informed and shaped by the worst impulses of America, by racists, anti-Semites, and anti-Muslim radicals, will now decide policy and pick policymakers, and the system some insisted would restrain him belongs to him instead. The GOP will be falling over itself to prove its loyalty to him. Even those Republicans with doubts will be radicalized by the electoral logic at work here. The Democrats, meanwhile, will experience the kind of internal chaos that we believed was the GOP’s fate.

Fatemeh Hussain puts her ballot in the scanner to be tabulated after voting at Oakman Elementary School during the US presidential election on November 8, 2016 in Dearborn, Michigan.
AFP

It's true a majority of America voted for Hillary Clinton, but that was not nearly enough. Not for the White House, not for Congress, and not to keep the Supreme Court.

If you naively believe that the future is brighter or easier than it actually is, then the gap between expectation and outcome will swallow you whole. Real hope comes from the courage of seeing things as they are. Of acknowledging how hard they will be to turn around. And then and only then acting.

Racists and radicals everywhere will capitalize on this moment. Liberalism will be thrown into doubt and disbelief. This is not something that will be turned around quickly, or easily. But it can be. Whether it will be is up to us.

I'd hate to be an imam come Friday. On your shoulders will be an awesome responsibility.

If it were my job to give the sermon, this is what I would say.

If dark times come to pass, they are as He willed. He gives some men (and they’re usually men) great power - to see who they really are, the world become a mirror of the soul. Will they use their power for good or for evil? Others God puts under duress, but also to see who they really are.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2016.
Reuters

We are all where we are meant to be. Even Donald Trump is exactly where God wants him to be. And you and I are where we are meant to be.

More Americans did not want Trump than wanted him. Many Americans are scared right now. They aren’t all Muslim, or mostly Muslim. They are our allies, yes. They are much more importantly our responsibility. We are theirs. “Every one of you is a shepherd,” the Prophet Muhammad once said, “and every one of you is responsible for his flock.” Anti-Semitism is on the march. The KKK candidate has won. Marriage equality could be under threat. Abortion rights are in jeopardy. Millions of undocumented Americans too are under threat.

The West has of course faced graver challenges before: Two World Wars, a Cold War. Here in America the long struggle of the civil rights movement, ongoing still. How did our better angels prevail? It might be easy now to give in, to imagine that the kind of people who stood up to evil, and stared it down, and won in the end, were of a different caliber than you and me. But they were no different than you or me. Muhammad Ali was a legend, yes. But he was also a skinny kid from Kentucky.  Maybe no one imagined who he'd become.

People like him, like Dr. King, like Malcolm X: they seem so much larger than life, but that is only because they made the simple, awesome, terrifying decision to stand up for the truth in a time of darkness. As it was before, so it shall be again.

I hope American Muslims, and our friends and allies, those who believe in pluralism, equality and democracy, will confront the coming years with purpose and with dedication. Democrats and Republicans. People of deep religion and no religion.

We must be the conscience of our country. A reminder of who we were, and who we can be. For Americans of all kinds, it is a calling, but it is especially for so many Muslims, who woke up this morning crying, afraid, or simply wondering what future, if any, they might have in the years to come. Ours might seem like a bleak or overwhelming destiny. I’m under no illusions about any of that. But it is a noble, and essential, one.

Haroon Moghul is a Senior Fellow and Director of Development at the Center for Global Policy. He is a President of Avenue Meem, a new media company. Follow him on Twitter: @hsmoghul