As a democracy becomes more fragile, and fear becomes all-consuming, attacks on freedom of expression and civil rights become more acceptable. The religion of security is in the ascendant. What has been happening in Israel over the last fifty years—suppression of the most basic human rights of the Palestinian people—could, with a Trump presidency and the rise of extreme right-wing ideology, also occur in the United States to Muslims. A matrix of control under Israeli military occupation is thoroughly outlined in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides. President-elect Trump proposes enacting similar measures for illegal immigrants and Muslim Americans.
Because of 9/11 there is now an all-encompassing dogma that frames our lives. It centers around one inflexible concern—security—and is based on the belief, both here and in Israel, that we are perpetually under threat. It’s a conviction stoked by carefully cultivated myths—all Muslims are terrorists; Palestinians want to kill Israelis. In African American communities, security has also been used to whitewash crimes. Similarly, it provides legitimacy for discriminatory practices against Muslim Americans. If allowed to continue, such bigotry risks becoming the norm throughout our society.
No one doubts that terrorism exists. There is, however, little recognition of how counter-terrorism measures create perverse effects. Increased police brutality in African American communities and fear and loathing against Muslims are but a few of these perversities. Across America, African Americans men risk being pulled over for driving while black. In Israel, a security guard will listen to your Hebrew for a hint of an Arab accent. If he detects one he will pull you over for questioning.
Stereotypes don’t occur overnight. They develop insidiously. Eventually prejudices worsen and harden into racism. This contributes to the destruction of a society and is something that risks happening under a Trump presidency.
Our President-elect has said he will force Muslims to register and carry ID cards stating their religion, something the Third Reich required Jews to do, using instead yellow badges that resembled the Star of David. “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before,” Trump said. “Some people are going to be upset about it but I think that now everyone feels that security is going to rule.”
Ironically, the Left is all aflame about Trump’s idea of a registry. Apparently these brave defenders of civil liberties are unaware that a Muslim Registry, euphemistically called the National Security-Entry-Exit Registration System, was imposed shortly after 9/11 with the endorsement of Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats and persisted well into the Obama presidency, only being officially abandoned in 2011. And who is to say if it ever officially ended.
Ajamu Baraka, Vice Presidential contender on the Jill Stein ticket, was stopped and interrogated about his residency and status quo no less than five times during that decade of dread. During her Senate campaign, Hillary Clinton made a dramatic gesture of returning campaign contributions from American Muslims and Muslim groups, this more than a year before 9/11.
Our prejudices, across political and racial lines, have been operating in inconspicuous ways for a very long time. President-elect Trump has simply exposed them to the full light of day.
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