The 2016 presidential campaign centered on hate, fear mongering, deliberate manipulation, and suspicion of the other — including Muslims, immigrants, and refugees. But these first weeks of the presidency clearly justified the real fears, concerns, and alarm that 50 percent of Americans and the world have felt all along.
From going ahead with the promised wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which clearly now will be paid for by our tax dollars, to defending torture, to banning refugees and people from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S. (while claiming it is not a Muslim ban), to the Yemeni military operation debacle causing the death of a Navy Seal and a U.S. ally Yemeni Tribal leader, while wounding American soldiers, destroying aircraft, and killing 25 civilians, including women and children. Then there is the Flynn scandal, the attacks on the media, judiciary and the intelligence community.
Following a brutal and divisive presidential campaign and with a stroke of a pen, a new chapter in American history is being hastily written. Emotions are high; wounds are raw, and apprehension is rampant after such unprecedented series of bans and exclusions. Hate crimes and speech against Muslims and Jews have escalated while their houses of worship being vandalized and desecrated.
All this is taking place in the shadows of major threats against our country and the world. In less than a month, North Korea fired its first land-based long-range missile into the sea of Japan, a Russian spy ship is less than 70 miles from the East Coast, near the Navy’s main submarine facility — the home port of 15 nuclear subs. Russian jet fighters keep buzzing our fleet and planes; threats are ongoing from the likes of Daesh/ISIL and the Taliban. The Holy lands are facing dangerous times with ongoing occupation, an Israeli policy of evicting Palestinians from their homes to erect houses for Israelis, legalizing 3,900 settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, building thousands of new settlements on Arab lands, and ongoing strife between the two sides in the absence of clear American role to achieve a just peace.
The executive ban is a reminder of some of the darkest, most discriminatory immigration policies in our history. Building a wall is not an immigration policy.
We must reverse this dangerous and damaging trend of fear mongering and misinformation. We must end hate, scapegoating and marginalization of any of us across real or perceived differences. We together must resist these high-risk and divisive policies peacefully but strategically and consistently. We must heal, support one another, unite, and focus on what is best for our country.
The divide and conquer method of years and centuries gone by must fail. Together we rise, divided we fall.
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• Shams Ghoneim, of Iowa City, is coordinator of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa