For as long as I can remember, I have valued listeners. Whenever I need to vent, I always go to the same person who I know will be “all ears.” I likewise try to offer this service to anyone whenever I can, but I never thought one of these people would be Donald Trump.
When it was first announced that Trump would host a rally in my hometown, my Twitter feed was doused in red by those local conservatives with whom I occasionally feud. Guided by intuition, I thought about who would protest the event with me; however, I soon backed up and posited the idea of actually attending the event. Me? At a Trump rally? I chuckled a few times at this notion but was reminded of the blessing of a listener.
In the days preceding this rally, I constantly had to justify this decision to myself by saying “the best way to learn is to listen.” Many times, people tend to shut out their opposition but, in reality, a new perspective can be a revolutionary piece of information, whether in a scientific research facility or a political conversation.
At the event I definitely felt out of place. Not wanting to be classified as a Trump supporter, I jokingly displayed my metal water bottle with a blue donkey sticker on it, which ironically was not allowed through security.
Once the Trump or anti-Hillary rally had begun, I was very quiet. I stood there rather motionless, occasionally starting a clap as everyone around me did but quickly stopping once my eyes met Trump’s distant figure. I continued to listen to his every word, but once he mentioned terrorism, my attention turned to the man next to me who yelled “f*** radical Islam.”
Without thought, I immediately said “No, don’t call it radical Islam.” I was initially surprised by the words that had unconsciously spewed out of my mouth. But this surprise quickly evolved into fear as the violent images of other Trump rallies came to mind. Fortunately, a disgusted look was the extent of his response.
For the rest of the day, I was irked by that man’s words and thought about my go-to listener: a Muslim girl from my school. I hated seeing her dedication to Islam juxtaposed against this unwitting man who slandered it. Listening to this random man did in fact introduce another perspective—one with which I clearly did not agree. Did he know that these terrorists are not Muslim?
As an avid science enthusiast, I cringe in the face of history, but in this case, it was absolutely necessary. The scapegoating of the Muslim community in the world today is quite analogous to that of the Jewish community in the 20th century.
ISIS has taken responsibility of practically all of the terrorist attacks recently, even if the evidence does not suggest an affiliation. They are attempting to divide us by convincing civilians that Muslims are to blame for these horrific attacks. Hearing that man yell “f*** radical Islam” at the rally did more than just frighten me—it saddened me that he fell victim to this façade.