Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Rise of Trump Can Be Good For
By Shaik Ubaid
March 1, 2016
I am grateful to Donald Trump, not because I believe in his
particular philosophy of "making America great again" but because he can
save America from people like him.
Islamophobia has been on the
rise for many years and it had become politically acceptable. But
before the bombastic and narcissistic Mr. Trump joined the race to lead
this nation, the media and the political leaders including Mr. Obama, were
not paying much attention to it. Like an insidious cancer, this
poison was spreading in the body of our great nation. Mr. Trump was
a symptom that finally led the physicians to take notice. Trump is not the
pain of hemorrhoids but of the deadly and insidious pancreatic cancer.
Before Mr. Trump, Congressman Tancredo of Colorado had suggested that
America should bomb the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. A person of the
stature of Newt Gingrich, the former speaker, and who is a history
professor, had called the mosque in downtown Manhattan, a symbol of Muslim
triumphalism. Senators Cruz and Rubio, Governor Huckabee and Congressman
Santorum had said worse things.
But these politicians were too
respectable and sometimes too inconsequential for leaders like Mr. Obama
to take notice. Only the moderate faith leaders and the human rights
and civil rights organizations were taking notice. They were showing
solidarity with their Muslim fellow citizens.
Mr. Trump changed
all that. He was too big a name and getting bigger too fast, to be
ignored. With his crass pronouncements against so many groups and
individuals, he was not too respectable. Never had been. The President and
the Speaker could no longer hide behind the need to be politically
expedient. Both came out in defense of the Muslim Americans. President
Obama even gathered the courage to visit an American mosque to show his
solidarity with the demonized Muslim community.
Trump is a good
thing for the Republican Party too. GOP was fast losing the immigrants and
the women, after having lost the African Americans already. The rise of
Tea Party and the extremist wing of the Evangelical community who had a
very strong grip on the party, was making it become marginalized
nationally. Mr. Trump will force the GOP to address this suicidal
ideation. Even if it comes to allowing a split, the leaders can
calculate the loss of the extremists against the gain of right leaning
immigrants, racial minorities, younger Whites and women. Just a decade and
a half ago the affluent sections of immigrants and conservative sections
of Muslims were supporters of the GOP.
Trump has also been a good
thing for America. Anyone who forces the country to take notice of
the cancer of intolerance has done a good job. At a time of demographic
shift and economic stagnation, fear-peddling can lead to the undermining
of the national fabric itself. Any one who spray gasoline from the air
when the drought has caused many small fires will be noticed.
I have been speaking out against the danger of rise of xenophobia in
the US but was mostly met with disbelief and denial. When in 2010, for the
first time in its history, the US saw more non-White births, I spoke about
it an anti-war conference in New York City. I have been so sure about the
rise of xenophobia and demagogues because never in the history of humanity
a dominant ethnicity had let its power erode without trying to arrest that
erosion. In such times of demographic shifts, especially if these shifts
are occurring during economic downturns, it becomes very easy for a
demagogue to rise to power
Six years after that conference, I am
still frustrated at the denial that our intellectuals exhibit. I attended
a teleconference on the rise of Islamophobia held by the Council on
Foreign Relations on February 25th. The speakers and the participants
mostly focused on hate and prejudice. They would end their statements with
a “positive” message that America always overcame the hatred of new groups
and cite the history of Jewish and Catholic struggle against hate. No one
focused on fear. It was frustrating and scary.
Muslims are in a
much worse shape than their predecessors- the Irish and Italian Catholics
and Jews. The Catholics and Jews, though reviled, were not feared. Muslims
Fear is an almost primordial emotion. It can evoke the
survival instinct in the most docile of men and turn them into fear-crazed
violent mobs armed with bullets or ballots.
History teaches us
that when native Americans were demonized as savages and African Americans
were dehumanized as sub-humans we committed the worst of atrocities on the
grandest of scale without suffering even the mildest of guilt-pangs.
We saw what demonization did to the European Jews and Gypsies, how the
Bosnian women were gang-raped in thousands in our own era and how in
Gujarat -the land where Gandhi was born- vegetarian mobs gleefully
cut open the bellies of pregnant Muslim women , fully confident that in
post 9 11 months, the world will not mind at all if a few "Muslim baby
snakes' lives were snuffed out even before they could breathe.
we must not take fear-mongers and hate-peddlers lightly. But we
were. That is till Trump became the leading contender for the nomination
for Presidency from the Republican Party.
But this is not enough. The leading intellectuals, the editors, the
clergy, the leaders of human rights and civil rights groups must not only
start addressing the rising xenophobia against the immigrants but must start
to identify and counter those who are behind it. The powerful forces that
are exploiting the insecurity of the Whites in times of economic decline and
demographic shifts must be countered in an organized way.
comes to Islamophobia, these leaders must not feel shy in identifying those
evangelical groups that are involved in Islamophobia. They must counter the
American supporters of the Israeli right-wing parties who consider the rise
of the US Muslim population as an existential threat to their dream of a
greater Israel and therefore fund the Islamophobia industry.
wishing for xenophobia to go away or living in denial that xenophobia can
not lead to bad things at a grand scale in the US, will eventually be
suicidal to the pluralistic and democratic ethos of America. A dynamic
alliance of all those groups who believe in a pluralistic America will have
to be built and built soon. Its strategy must be based on a study of
history, sociology and behavioral science.
All religious groups and
media must report fairly that violent extremism is a human problem that
exists in all communities. While the Muslims have their Boko Haram, ISIS,
Mehdi Army and Al-Qaeda; the Christians have their Neo Nazi groups, the
armed militias, the KKK, the Lord Resistance Army; the Hindus have their
RSS, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Vahini and Shiv Sena; the Buddhists have their 969
of Burma, the Jews have their Kach, Kahane Chai and the settler groups. The
reassuring fact is that all these groups are fringe movements. Reporting
such facts in a nondiscriminatory way will suck the oxygen out of the
propaganda of the demagogues who might be targeting one religion for
All political parities and institutions must be
convinced to make countering racial bigotry and religious hatred a priority.
The rise of Trump in these can be a wake up call against the spread of
xenophobia and can be the catalyst for the launch of a broad based alliance
to protect pluralism in the US. This is my hope for America and this is why
I thank Trump for running.
Dr. Shaik Ubaid is a community organizer, political
commentator and a practicing neurologist. He is active in inter-faith arena
and recently presented a panel discussion at the Parliament of World
Religions in Salt Lake City on "Sharing the lessons from the intrAfaith
struggles against extremism", where leaders of major religions shared their
communities' struggle against extremism.
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