I met an American six-grader who wanted to leave the United States.
I was speaking about fighting Islamophobia in a Columbus, Ohio mosque earlier this year, when a father pulled me aside, asking me to speak to his son in private.
The boy told me he wanted to leave the U.S., but that he still hopes to come back after four years. No doubt he was anticipating that President Donald Trump wouldn’t be serving a second term. When his father asked him not share his plans in the school, the child told him that all of the kids at school already knew that Muslims and Latinos would have to leave the country.
This is a child, an American, born and raised in this country. He has never lived anywhere else in the world. And he isn’t alone.
According to a survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 20 percent of all Muslims under the age of 30 plan to leave the United States. Forty-two percent of Muslims surveyed report bullying of their school-aged children. That’s four times the likelihood for the general public.
But all of that comes from just a handful of bigoted people, and we can more or less ignore it. When a mosque is burned down or a Muslim attacked, we can count on the FBI and on law enforcement to come to our aid against the extremists and bigots.
However, now, with the Supreme Court decision instituting Muslim Ban 3.0 at the end of June, America has crossed a major line.
Islamophobia is no longer just coming from bigots. It is now the law of the land. The first step to legalizing Islamophobia in America has been taken.
Of course, there have been other laws targeting Muslims in the past, such as the approval for secret evidence under former President Bill Clinton. How can one defend himself or herself in a court when the evidence against him or her is secret? This is absolutely un-American.
Another example is the law of indefinite detentions, signed by former President Barack Obama. These laws are aimed at Muslims, but were a stealth operation. None of their authors specifically named Muslims before, during, or after their passing and implementation. These un-American laws are still the laws of the land, although former President George W. Bush spoke against secret evidence during his first election campaign in 2000, and President Obama promised never to implement it in his administration.
But the Muslim Bans 1, 2, and 3.0 are different.
From the start, the intent of these laws was declared by the authors, their promoters, and by President Trump himself, to ban Muslims. President Trump has been explicit about this legislation’s goal both during and after his presidential campaign.
Now, for the first time since the Supreme Court’s decision to single out Japanese-Americans for internment during WWII, this order allows discrimination on the basis of national origin and religion.
The Islamophobia that was once the preserve of bigots and white supremacists is now written into the very law of the land.
The Supreme Court has given license to official Islamophobia in America. This signals a dangerous and backward trend for our nation. It reverses established legal and cultural norms, violates ideals of respect for basic human dignity, and threatens the human and civil rights of every American.
We all, as Americans, should ponder seriously the course our country is taking. This is not just for Muslim Americans in particular, but for all Americans, whose rights and dignity are at stake by this decision.