In a recent address to the nation, President Obama condemned Islamophobia, and called upon Muslim Americans to help “root out” terrorism. Calls for Muslims in America to engage in more self-surveillance has been met with criticism, as white supremacy operates in full view and there is no concerted effort to stamp it out. This comes as Islamophobic hate crimes, threats and incidents of discrimination are on the rise, and Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is embraced by the white nationalist movement.
“In light of the recent hate incidents targeting the American Muslim community and the hate-filled rhetoric we hear from a number of public figures, we welcome President Obama’s strong statement calling for national unity and rejecting anti-Muslim ‘suspicion and hate,’” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “The president was clear in disassociating Islam from the thugs of ISIS, who are the common enemy of all Americans and of all Muslims worldwide.”
However, Muslim Americans are taking issue with the notion they need to police their own community of 2.8 million people.
“We would never ask any other faith community to stand up and condemn acts of violence committed by people within their groups,” said Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour to NPR. Sarsour has also worked with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. “The fact that this is only directed at the Muslim community is something that I personally can’t accept.”
“Asking Muslims to do this is offensive. There is a collective responsibility to address this,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, to Reuters. Syed asked why leaders in the U.S. are not asking Christian churches to police themselves due to white supremacists following the Charleston massacre in June.
“We’re not law enforcement officials,” said Shahed Amanullah, a Washington, D.C.-based Muslim American entrepreneur, to NPR. “We’re community members and Americans like everybody else and we should have the same relationship with law enforcement that everybody else has. To expect us to be on the front lines without having the capacity or the support would not be [productive]. It wouldn’t be productive with any community.”
And so, without a call for self-surveillance across the board, including white houses of worship and the white Christian community–itself a hotbed of terrorist activity for quite some time–any efforts are rendered futile and a waste of time. After all, we know white supremacy is destroying the lives of millions of Black people as we speak, whether materially, physically or psychologically. Whether it is the war on drugs, mass incarceration, policing, redlining, racism in healthcare, education or so many other aspects of American life, institutional racism is real and the impact reaches far and wide. And the impact on Black communities is long term, generational and crippling, and arguably of far greater consequence than how many times Muslim terrorists have attacked the U.S.
Further, while Islamic extremists are identified as an entity, white supremacy is not even officially recognized, much less as a terrorist threat. And as countless billions of dollars have been spent waging an elusive war against Islamic extremism, how much has been committed to waging a war on white supremacy and systemic racism? You cannot fight that which you do not even know exists.
Meanwhile, in a nation where someone such as Donald Trump is the frontrunner for president of a national party, fascism and neo-Nazism are inescapably intertwined with mainstream American politics. The candidate’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. has been met with praise from white extremists and anti-Muslim groups.
“Heil Donald Trump – THE ULTIMATE SAVIOR,” wrote Andrew Anglin, publisher of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, as the Huffington Post reported. “Finally: someone speaks sense,” Anglin wrote under the headline “Glorious Leader Calls For Complete Ban on All Moslems.”
“Why were these monkeys ever allowed in in the first place? What an insane, stupid concept,” Anglin wrote regarding Trump’s proposal as BuzzFeed reported, concluding with “Make America White Again!”
“The Jewish knives are coming out on Donald Trump,” said former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on his radio show, as reported by BuzzFeed. “How come it’s against America values to want to preserve the heritage of the country? We’re overwhelmingly a Christian country and overwhelmingly a European country.”
“I would not let in any Muslim immigrants at all, from Syria or from anywhere else,” said Jared Taylor of the website American Renaissance, which claims that “one of the most destructive myths of modern times is that people of all races have the same average intelligence.”
Taylor told BuzzFeed, “They only cause trouble. Even if they don’t throw bombs, they want special food, won’t work with pork, want special swimming pool hours for women only, etc. Who needs them?”
According to Rolling Stone, much of Trump’s support is due to his Islamophobia. A recent Public Policy Polling survey found that Trump leads the GOP field in North Carolina with a third of GOP voter support, with Ted Cruz in second-place at a distant 16 percent. According to the analysis from the poll, “Trump’s Islamophobia is a central feature of his appeal to his supporters.”
Among those who support Trump, 67 percent support a national database for Muslims, and 62 percent believe the lie that Arabs in New Jersey cheered during the World Trade Center bombing on 9/11. Also, 51 percent would like to shut down mosques, and 44 percent support the legal criminalization of Islam.
Welcome to America.