Since 9/11, the rise of Islamophobia in the U.S. has skyrocketed, and it has gotten even worse since President Trump has been in office.
In the past week, Trump has once again spread false information and attacked minority groups. During a rally in North Carolina Wednesday night, Trump began bashing the “squad,” a nickname given to the four Democratic congresswomen of color.
However, the one who seemed to catch the most heat was Rep. Ilan Omar, a Muslim American woman who serves as a representative from Minnesota. She was born in Somalia but fled to the U.S. as a child during her country’s civil war, where she then became an American citizen during the 1990s.
Trump began attacking Omar with racist remarks and questioning her loyalty to the U.S. During his rally, he claimed Omar supported the 9/11 attacks, she supports Al Queda, and she is an anti-semitic. Fans and supporters began chanting “send her back,” which Trump later called “enthusiasm” instead of racism.
Hearing the chants during the rally was absolutely bone-chilling. The infectious hatred and racism that Trump spreads to his followers are much stronger and more dangerous than we can comprehend. Anything he says, they listen. In this instance, it’s Islamophobia.
This isn’t Trump’s first run-in with hate speech towards Muslims; many times before, during and after the 2016 election, he has said some sort of racist remark towards them.
Trump slammed Syrian refugees back in 2015, saying they could be members of ISIS and that we should be surveilling the Muslim citizens. He also called for a watch list, closing down mosques, a database tracking system on Muslims and warrantless searches for Muslims Americans.
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before ... And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy,” Trump responds in regard to monitoring mosques and the Muslim families. “And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
In another very serious accusation, Trump claimed that he had seen thousands of Muslim Americans cheering during 9/11 as the Twin Towers burned down and that Omar was part of the celebration.
There are countless tweets, false claims and racist remarks that Trump has said about Muslims over the past few years, but what is scary is the impact he has on his loyal followers.
Trump seems to struggle with differentiating between a Muslim person and a radical extremist; to him, headdress means danger. We also see these patterns of stereotyping and racism about the African American and Latinx cultures.
People will fear what they don’t understand. Whether it is what another group wears, the language they speak, the way they act or the stereotypes drilled into their heads.
However, racism is taught. Nobody is born with hatred in their hearts, and I believe that if a person is willing, it can be untaught. The downside, having a leader who uses hate speech so openly and regularly is only creating a bigger divide and hurting the integration of cultures. We are never going to come together when we have a leader who drives us apart.
Trump gets on top by pushing others down. In this case, using Omar as a leverage for his reelection and putting her in a position of public hate and discrimination as she rushes to fact check his lies and save her image.
Hate is an awful thing to let into your heart. Since 9/11, Muslims have been under serious fire because people are angry and don’t understand. Trump is fueling this 18-year-old fire, but it is up to us to use our privileges to put an end to it. Islam is a religion of peace, and we shouldn’t let the radical extremist groups ruin the images of strong, loyal American-Muslim citizens like Omar.