Before you read any further, note this: I understand that not all Trump fans condone Islamophobia, understood broadly as a set of assumptions by which an individual or group holds and promotes anti-Islam or anti-Muslim sentiments. Here is a case in point – some of my friends voted for Trump. Do I think they are racist? No. Do I think they are Islamophobic? No. They may not know a lot about Islam or Muslims, but by no means would I call them Islamophobic. With that said, there are Trump fans who condone Islamophobia. They may refer to Islam as a “cancer” and want to suppress the constitutional rights of Muslim Americans. Some of these fans are now in Trump’s cabinet, the most Islamophobic in American history.
Perhaps you are wondering about the title of this blog. It is inspired by a recent Daily Beast article by Dean Obeidallah, a vocal proponent of anti-racism in the United States. Obeidallah’s piece is titled: “It’s Time the Good Trumpers Denounce Hate by Radical Trumpists.” He notes that there are indeed “good Trumpers,” just as there are good people in any religious, cultural, or political group. Obeidallah also notes that there are “radical Trumpists,” just as there are radical people in any religious, cultural, or political group.
This blog post is also influenced by the following question: “Where are the ‘moderate’ Muslims condemning groups like ISIS?” This question is often posed following “Muslim attacks” on civilian populations either in the United States or abroad. Fox News often raises this question, which can lead their viewers to thinking that Muslims approve of violence. Somehow, a significant number of American citizens have reached the conclusion that Muslims may be especially susceptible to “radical beliefs,” which inevitably leads to the assumption that Muslim Americans condone “terrorism.”
Without spending paragraphs and paragraphs documenting the number of fatwas Muslims leaders have issued to condemn “terrorism,” let me just point you to a USNews article, which reports: “you wouldn’t know it from the press but moderate Muslims do denounce terrorism.”
I do, however, raise issue with the USNews article. The binary of “good Muslims/bad Muslims” or “moderate Muslims”/”radical Muslims” is problematic in itself. These simplistic categories overlook the immense diversity within Muslim populations. It is impossible to break down 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide into two groups. Islam is not a monolith. Muslims hold different interpretations on a number of contemporary topics including civic duties, freedom of religion, blasphemy, political affiliations, and so on.
The same could be said of Trump fans.
There are not “good Trump fans” or “bad Trump fans.” Similarly, there are not “moderate Trump fans” or “radical Trump fans.” There is some of both and a lot of people in-between these rigid constructs.
Nevertheless, beyond these binaries rests an important question: Why do we ask Muslims to condemn acts of violence committed by ISIS sympathizers but do not ask Trump fans to condemn acts of violence committed by Trump sympathizers?
The USNews article reveals that “moderate Muslims” do condemn “terrorism.” Many articles have been written on this subject. Many polls have also been carried out to gage whether Muslims worldwide condemn groups like ISIS. That is all fine and well, but hopefully organizations are also releasing surveys to explore the level of Islamophobia among Trump fans. That only seems fair, and it also may encourage authorities to combat attacks against minority communities in American society.
Before I finish, picture the following hypothetical scenario. Imagine if a Trump fan committed a heinous act of violence against a mosque. Say the fan burned it to the ground. Here is what could happen if we applied the same “rules” to Trump fans as we do to Muslims.
Trump fans across the United States would be asked to issue “official rulings” that explicitly stated: “We denounce extremism and violence in the name of Trump.”
Trump fans would be asked to denounce “radical Trumpism” and would have to be actively involved in “counter-radicalization” and “de-radicalization” of Trumpism to prove their “true” American identity as well as their loyalty to the United States.
Trump fan clubs would be pressured into creating “anti-extremism” campaigns to counter violence in the name of Trumpism.
I could go on and on. Hopefully you see my point.
The double standard is real.