Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A Muslim on election night

 J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday/TNS
J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday/TNS

I’ll admit it: at the start, I was one of those people who thought that this would be funny. That we could all watch this guy bumble his way through the primaries, saying one ridiculous thing after another and giving late-night television the kind of material it has been missing since Sarah Palin. But I am no longer laughing.

From the beginning, I never thought this race was really about policy or about progressive ideas against conservative values. A candidate like Donald Trump kind of throws those things out of the window. I’ve always been fairly liberal, always far more aligned with those on the left than those on the right, but my dislike of Donald Trump was never about his tax plan, his views on abortion or his foreign policy. It also wasn’t just because I was a “wimpy liberal,” as a former high school classmate of mine liked to say.

When you’re a Muslim in this country, there are certain things you learn to deal with. People ask why you’re not drinking water on a hot day in July, and you have to explain what Ramadan is. Middle school rolls around and the first wave of terrorist jokes comes with it, with one kid in my sixth grade homeroom telling me “Allah hu akbar” – a common Arabic prayer phrase meaning “God is great” – was a terrorist cry, and another asking me why my family and I support Osama bin Laden. As I get older, I see the pundits on Fox News asking why it’s always my religion causing the problems, and I hear my high school classmates wondering aloud, “But why are they so violent?” You deal with the Islamophobia, ranging from the benign to the malicious and from the simply misinformed to the purely intolerant.

But I really never thought that when the time came to choose between two candidates, both of whom are full of imperfections, that the one who proposed banning Muslims until we “figure out what is going on” would come out on top.

So there I sat, in the corner of Worcester Dining Commons, watching the results roll in in utter disbelief. My politically-minded side was concerned for the country; we had made the wrong choice, and a whole host of problems would come from that, ranging from a woman’s right to choose to the strength of the economy and everything in between.

But putting aside my political leanings and my opinions on legitimate policy issues, I am a Muslim. I had been raised as a Muslim my entire life, learning of a religion and a faith of peace, of love, of hospitality, of generosity. I am a Muslim living in a country that, in one night, decided that maybe people like me didn’t belong here. A country that decided in the moment of truth that we really might have to ban Muslims until we “figure out what is going on.”

I realize that the ban on Muslims wasn’t the key issue of this election and that Muslims are not the only people affected by this. I know there are members of the Hispanic, African-American, and LGBTQIA communities that know how I feel. I don’t truly believe that Donald Trump will be able to place a ban on Muslims entering the country, and I’m honestly not worried that any real consequences will come of this, at least personally, solely because of my faith. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. What matters for someone like me is that America made a choice, not between liberalism and conservatism and not between a Democrat and a Republican, but between ideas and Islamophobia, between policy and demagoguery, between unity and hate.

And here I was, a Muslim on election night, born and raised in this incredible country, a proud American citizen, feeling like an outsider looking in.

Amin Touri is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Nov 14, 2016 at 8:23 am

    @Dr. Venckman:

    That’s cash and in small bills, right?

    The Jihadists state clearly, and with no misinterpretation, what their goal is: total, worldwide domination of Islam as THEY interpret it.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Nov 11, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Another great question to ask: “Why does your faith only speak about women positively in their role as baby factories?”

  • S

    Stuart FosterNov 10, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Amin-Don’t let these clowns discourage you from writing more op-eds. You wrote beautifuly here.

  • D

    Dr. VenckmanNov 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    UMASS should really put David Hunt on the payroll. He educates more in the comments section of this publication than most of you get in 4 years here.

    To the author – stop personalizing and distorting the issue. The issue is not kicking out American Muslims who are citizens. The issue is stopping unbridled immigration from the most dangerous region in the world. Terrorists are infiltrating western society for the sole purpose of killing us. EVERYONE coming from those areas is suspect at the moment. They have told us time and again they want to kill us. Just like all Americans are often branded as assholes overseas, so too we have the right to verify, verify, verify ANYONE coming into this country from anyplace. Allowing anyone in from the Middle East in particular is a dangerous proposition.

    That really should not be a controversial concept. The actual issue has been distorted beyond belief.

  • A

    ArafatNov 10, 2016 at 9:56 am

    “People ask why you’re not drinking water on a hot day in July, and you have to explain what Ramadan is.”

    You are cherry-picking so as to make Islam look good. A different question might be, “Why is it that during the month of Ramadan Islamic jihadist attacks spike?” For this is equally as accurate as the example you mention.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Nov 10, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Let me put this forth FIRST. I write this as a Jew, married to a Muslim woman.

    I make no judgment about you specifically; I don’t know you.

    But the “Islamophobia” of Trump supporters – of whom I am one – is not based on clouds; it’s based on what the Muslim refugees are doing, all over Europe. Whole swaths of cities are falling under Sharia law – the kind of law that enslaves women to being nothing but baby factories, the kind of law that throws gays off of buildings, the kind of law that permits rape of infidel women as “property of the right hand”, the kind of law that protects those who kill family members (especially women) who refuse to be their men’s property… Germany, Sweden, and others are seeing insane-level increases in crimes, from burglaries, robberies, to assaults, rapes, and even murders.

    These people have turned Sweden into the rape capital of Europe; they’ve taken over, literally, entire regions of multiple countries in Europe. And we, who want a ban on Muslims immigrating UNTIL we can find a way to vet people, are learning from the experience.

    AND… we’re learning about Islam in general. About the practice of Taquiyya, Tawriyya, and other sacred deceptions. And when we learn how “war is deceit” is codified into your religion, I think it’s reasonable to grasp why protestations of innocence are not believed. We look at history, and Jihad by Hijra – migration – throughout history, and see it happening here.

    You may very well BE what you claim; a patriotic American who happens to be a Muslim, but someone of whom I should not be afraid. I hope you are.

    Lastly, I mentioned my wife. Born and raised in a Muslim-majority country, she and I were walking one day at our apartment complex and saw a couple with one child; the woman was in a full niqab. My wife grabbed my arm in terror (OW!), and said “Oh no, they’re here, I’m afraid!” At a local interfaith dialog, which included a local Imam and two women who accompanied him, she said “Those poor women!” when she saw them in hijabs. And the Imam said something that disturbed ME greatly; I don’t think anyone else caught it.

    He said “All of America’s problems come from it having secular law.” I.e., a stealth advocate for religious-based law – Sharia.

    So why are we afraid? History: