Okay. I know what you're thinking. That title may have been clickbait.
But I couldn't help but think that perhaps Donald Trump's remarks were yet another rallying cry for all people upset and fatigued by the growing onslaught of hatred and demagoguery that is now in vogue in some aspects of American life. Now, this blog post is by NO means an endorsement by me, nor is it of his policies. In fact, this guy actually makes me queazy. As much as I hate to admit it, however, I can't shake the notion that there may be value in Trump's words: they were proof that we all actually can agree on something-- that he's totally and completely wrong.
If Donald Trump has done anything, it's awaken millions of people with exactly how stuck the American psyche is quagmired. By acting as a lighting rod for political and cultural issues, Trump has proven to be a great litmus test for conservatives and liberals alike. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not Americans will change more than just the filter on their Facebook profile picture to address Islamophobia in America.
After staring at my computer screen in disbelief this week after Donald Trump called for barring Muslims into the United States, I took stock of the current situation. I was on my way to the local mosque in Spokane where the Spokane Interfaith Council would be filming the latest installment in our "Meet the Neighbors" campaign, designed to provide a how-to guide on visiting houses of worship around the inland northwest.
The Mosque in Spokane is surrounded by barbed wire, and has been for years. This project has been months in the making, and I was determined not to let a few sentences and a news cycle or two rip my community apart. Community building takes, slow, sustained and intentional action.
The truth is, our local mosque in Spokane has been surrounded by more than just barbed wire for some time. There is a deep-seated movement of anti-Muslim sentiment in my community that has been around long before Trump arrived on the campaign trail. The sad fact is that no one has been taking Islamophobia seriously in my area enough to address it in a meaningful way. There are groups who organize vigils and solidarity rallies, but i think they lack perspective when it comes to what we're up against. I need only point to a few examples:
During Ramadan this year, "Death to Islam" was written on a prayer space with women and children praying inside. When Spokane City Council commended local Muslim advocacy groups for encouraging the outreach of the Muslims' concerns to community leaders, the meeting was met with armed protesters. Local elected officials actively denying the humanity of Muslims-- the very people they represent.
William Buckley's words echo in my head when I think of Trump:
"Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great."
Perhaps Trump will serve as a wake up call to a party whose platform has been hijacked.
Perhaps Trump will serve as a reminder that we need to get serious about anti-Muslim sentiment in this country.
Perhaps his open distrust of his neighbors will inspire us to reach out to our own, no matter their creed or class or party affiliation.
Perhaps we should all thank Donald Trump...