In less than a week since taking office, Donald Trump has already enacted the worst and most feared aspects of his campaign “promises,” including construction of the infamous wall and a ban on Muslim immigrants, refugees, and even while, green-card holders from entering the country.
Despite rising public outrage, Trump continues to defend these orders, and there is real fear that one of his most criticized campaign promises, a registry of Muslims in the United States, may be come a reality. It has certainly emboldened some elected officials: From proposing an amendment that could ban hijabs and niqabs in Georgia to asserting that the Japanese internment camps in World War II offer a precedent for creating such a registry, the fear and horror are beyond justified for Muslims in America – and those of us with the privilege of avoiding this ought to stand with them in any way possible.
With the controversial appointments of white supremacist-acclaimed Steve Bannon and Islamophobic conspiracist Frank Gaffney, Muslim Americans are undoubtedly at risk for discriminatory policies. This discrimination is not new – particularly with NSEERS program under the Bush presidency, Muslims in America have lived with legal discrimination before, in the name of preventing terrorism. While national security is important, it is worth noting that the NSEERS program was discontinued after 2011 because it was deemed redundant with the creation of US-VISIT, and that none of the 93,000 cases it produced brought up terrorism charges. Some have argued that this new registry could look like NSEERS – if that is the case, the program is redundant, ineffective, blatantly racist, and ought to be resisted in any way possible.
This registry suggestion has also drawn many parallels to the Holocaust, in which the Jewish people, among others, were obligated to register in the name of national security. This eventually led to the internment and death of six million people, and remains one of the most notoriously evil genocides in history. Many prominent Jewish figures, such as actress Mayim Bialik and the CEO of the Anti-Defamation Leagaue, Johnathan Greenblatt, as well as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, whose family converted from Judaism to Catholicism, have announced that they will register as Muslims in solidarity should that event come about.
Given that such patterns are emerging, our duty as non-Muslim citizens is to stop this before it goes any further. Standing idly by is not an option for us.
There are some who would say that this is premature worrying and such a register doesn’t exist yet, but given how things are moving, the fact that it remains a tangible possibility is reprehensible, and we are obligated to resist it in any way possible.
Speaking for myself, as a white Christian, I admit that I have failed to challenge the hegemony that keeps me safe from such surveillance – surveillance that has plagued Muslims in America in many different ways. I apologize for failing you then.
I promise to stand with you now, as much as I am able, and continue learning and resisting. If it means physically registering my name alongside you, I will be there – and I certainly hope to see other non-Muslims there, as well.