He may be a comedian by trade, but Aziz Ansari has something very serious to say about Donald Trump and the rising tide of prejudice.
He reflects on Trump's influence in an op-ed written for Sunday's New York Times, zeroing in on the candidate's dangerously misplaced and increasingly xenophobic rhetoric, and the harm it has done.
As the son of Muslim immigrants from India and someone who has faced discriminatory stereotypes himself, Ansari is well positioned to weigh in. The column is headlined "Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family."
“It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense.”
"Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels," Ansari writes. "It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense."
He backs up that assertion with a series of anecdotes -- and, yes, a few humorous quips -- including what the 9/11 attacks looked like through his eyes and how he was treated as a then-unknown student at New York University, mere blocks from where the attack took place.
"There are approximately 3.3 million Muslim Americans. After the attack in Orlando, The Times reported that the F.B.I. is investigating 1,000 potential 'homegrown violent extremists,' a majority of whom are most likely connected in some way to the Islamic State," Ansari writes, referencing this month's shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida.
"If everyone on that list is Muslim American, that is 0.03 percent of the Muslim American population. If you round that number, it is 0 percent. The overwhelming number of Muslim Americans have as much in common with that monster in Orlando as any white person has with any of the white terrorists who shoot up movie theaters or schools or abortion clinics."
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.