The first week of the regime of the 45th POTUS has been characterised by ignorance, arrogance, petulance, xenophobia, Islamophobia and mendacity. Most of these are words that the president probably can’t spell, let alone understand.
I couldn’t possibly cover all those ills at once. For now, let’s focus on Islamophobia.
As a European, I’m aware that Islamophobia exists in that continent. You can find it, if you go looking amongst the fringe and poorly-educated elements. And certain politicians are trying to increase its popularity for their own ends.
But, here in the US, Islamophobia is already at another level entirely. Here, the ignorant hatred of people on religious grounds has become a mainstream epidemic. With no effort at all, you can find people – some of them educated and otherwise-intelligent – who will happily regurgitate all sorts of lies about Islam and conclude that those lies are sufficient to justify their hatred.
Now, with the publication of the wrong-headed, unnecessary and indeed counterproductive executive order on migration from seven middle eastern countries, the new regime has fueled the epidemic by giving it official sanction.
In case you think this is an over-reaction to what’s happening, my intention is not to try to argue my case. I don’t need to, because others have already done it much better than I could.
I call as my witness – wait for it – the 43rd POTUS, George W Bush who, on September 17th 2001, visited the Islamic Center here in Washington DC and delivered the following speech.
The core argument that all moderate, intelligent people need – both Republican and Democrat – is right here. It is for the fascists now soiling the good name of this country around the world to explain why Bush’s argument is wrong.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much for your hospitality. We’ve just had a — wide-ranging discussions on the matter at hand. Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens.
These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.
The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.
When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race.
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.
Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know. That’s not the America I value.
I’ve been told that some fear to leave; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.
Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.
This is a great country. It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They’re outraged, they’re sad. They love America just as much as I do.
I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by. And may God bless us all.