I applaud Trump for inspiring such great progressive moments in the US

Published: April 2, 2017
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Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina primary night victory rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, February 20, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Post 9/11, the world became a very different place. However, no one could have predicted how the heinous acts of a few deranged individuals that September day in 2001 would affect the lives of more than a billion Muslims across the globe.

On their part, Muslim Americans were naturally traumatised to witness the sudden thoughtless rise in islamophobia and hatred towards their community. So they internalised their fears and saw merit in distancing themselves from all national socio-political discourses.

Barack Obama’s progressive policies did bring some relief for Muslim Americans. Unfortunately, his sincere efforts at instilling confidence within the marginalised Muslim community were rolled back with a single unrelenting stroke, when Republican nominee Donald Trump won the 2016 elections. During the campaign trail, Trump openly displayed his racism against Muslims, and his ignorant redneck supporters loved him for it.

However, his divisive rhetoric had an unexpected effect: it made Muslim Americans, especially the women, realise that they could no longer live in the shadows; they had to stand up against the pervasive Islamophobia and speak out. They could no longer depend on others to echo their concerns.

But Muslims were not the only ones affected; Trump’s victory opened the floodgates of hate crimes, with every minority group being targeted, including Mexicans, Hindus and Jews. Just last month, an Indian engineer was shot dead in Kansas after a white person shouted, ‘go back to your country’ at him. Similarly, Jewish cemeteries in different cities of the US were desecrated by white supremacists. This common peril has shaken the minority communities to the core.

American history is filled with horrific examples of mistreatment of minority groups such as native-Americans and African-Americans. But the current scale of division within America, though much less violent, is nonetheless alarming. The liberal media and democrats have now awoken to the stark reality that their nation’s basic principles of freedom of speech, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which until now were taken for granted, are yet again under threat.

Let us now take a look at five inspiring examples of individuals and groups who are fighting the good fight in response to the disruptive fault lines created by Trump:

1. Bernie Sanders

Contrary to what some people in Pakistan assume, all Jews are not scheming plotters who abhor Muslims. In fact, American Jews are some of the most vociferous defenders of their fellow Muslims’ rights. And to bring home the point that not all Jews are involved in ‘yahoodi sazishs’ (Jewish conspiracy), an exemplary political figure such as US Senator Bernie Sanders will suffice. Ever since Trump suggested a ban on Muslims, Sanders has been the most vocal, most ardent supporter of American Muslims within the political spectrum.

2. Khizr Khan

A Pakistani-American lawyer by profession, Khizr Khan spoke at the pre-election Democratic Party convention, and famously offered his copy of the US constitution to Trump. This was an unprecedented sight: A Muslim using such a momentous platform to teach American constitutional principles to a presidential nominee.

3. Bill De Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is widely respected for his pro-minorities, pro-immigration stance. He proudly states that New York is a city of immigrants, and its shores are always open to immigrants from across the world. De Blasio took a great initiative when he participated in a rally to denounce plans to build a Muslim Registry. There, he exclaimed,

“Today, I am Muslim too!”

4. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

This non-profit organisation provides pro bono legal services for American individuals whose civil liberties are under threat. When Trump came out with his first executive order to ban Muslims from seven Muslim-majority countries, volunteer lawyers of ACLU reached airports across the country and were seen typing up petitions on behalf of Muslims trapped at the airports. Ultimately, the lawyers of ACLU got a stay order against the executive order from Federal courts.

5. Women’s march

Another segment of the American society that found its voice, in the aftermath of this election, is the women. Trump’s appalling misogynistic comments unified the womenfolk and led them to march across the US for their equal rights.

Muslim women, who previously stayed quite aloof from US politics, have now surpassed their male counterparts in social activism. Proudly wearing the hijab, and seen on all mainstream news networks, these educated, empowered females have taken up the mantle of representing the peaceful and inclusive image of Islam to the American society. Symbolically, the face of American anti-immigration movement is a Muslim girl wearing the American flag as her hijab.

America has certainly come a long way since September 11, 2001. And though Trump is largely responsible for the recent rise of conservative populism in the US, he must also be credited for unconsciously inspiring and stimulating the long dormant progressive movement under way in America today.

Usman Ali Virk

Usman Ali Virk

The author hails from Lahore and is a lawyer by profession. He recently graduated with a Masters in Law from the University of California, Berkeley.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Isn’t that what a functioning democracy is all about ?Recommend

  • knowthy

    The muslim woman, by wearing the hijab, is anouncing the coming victory of islamic-arabic tribalism, backwardness, misogyny, machoism and imperialism. So long the muslim women (and men) does not realize that – there is no reason to jubilate. Islam has the long-term goal of exterminating the non-muslims and imposing arab hegemony on mankind. The muslims are doing it proudly since 1400 years.Recommend

  • Milind A

    “However, no one could have predicted how the heinous acts of a few deranged individuals that September day in 2001 would affect the lives of more than a billion Muslims across the globe.”

    The writer tries the old trick of distancing ‘more than a billion Muslims’ from the ‘few deranged individuals’.. However not everybody would be fooled. Isn’t it a fact that most Muslims secretly cheered 2001? Isn’t it a fact that most Muslims were apologists for the ‘few deranged individuals’ by blaming America for ‘bringing 2001 upon themselves’ by supporting Israel and other causes seen anti-Muslim? Why fudge??? Does one only need to be a suicide bomber to be called out a fundamentalist?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Demanding right to rape non-Muslim women by Muslims women is seen as Women’s march by writer Wow!. That is not the definition of freedom of expression. Muslim women being non-secular is the issue. Muslims women could have done better by opposing love Jihad.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    On the contrary, it was the “progressive” movements; SJW, BLM and Feminists that inspired and gave rise to Trump’s populism. Even Trump’s own supporters don’t think he is the smartest and best thing for them but they still voted for him because of all the crazy PC nonsense and rioting coming from the liberal left.

    A lot of Bernie supporters also turned and voted for Trump. Trump won the rust-belt states which have voted democrat in the last two elections for Obama.

    Take a good, hard look at the number of reps in US Congress and Senate. Democrats have lost both houses. If this is what progressives achieve when they are inspired, I can only imagine what they would be like when they’re demoralized.Recommend

  • Ahmed Ata Khan

    You seem to be an Indian, judging from your hate. No problem. Indians are getting to be their own worst enemies. If US has Trump, India has Modi, chips of the same block. All we have is to wait and see.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Too bad the author follows the PC police and has relabeled Americas anti-ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT movement as an Anti-IMMIGRANT movement!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Er,..hmmnn,..well, see you being a Pakland denizen, [though
    you may be living, safe and sound, possibly in Trumpland]
    have not the slightest idea what a functioning democracy is about.
    Try to remember, the Russians, hijacked this last presidential
    election in US. Everyone and his brother knows this. including
    the village idiot.
    Except, you, keep harping the same democracy mantra. This was
    not a fair democratic election. It was a besmirched and fouled,
    More like a Third World Country election. Say Hindustan, Egypt etc.
    Every day there are new revelations of the Russians involvement.
    Hacking and close contacts with Trump’s campaign staff, including
    Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner’s. Most of Trump’s close associates
    were directly in involved with the Russians.
    The Yellow Haired Man also accused Obama of wiretapping his phones.
    With no proof forthcoming so far.
    You need to revisit your ‘perception’ of democracy.Recommend

  • Shorif

    I think this video shows one way how many people become Islamophobic:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UWd94CKO-IRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    he Yellow Haired Man also accused Obama of wiretapping his phones.
    With no proof forthcoming so far.

    The proof is in the pudding which was made from the revelitions of the Russian communications with the Trumpers. Mr obama was also caught redhanded spying on its allies including the chancellor of Germany. The guy is a professional liar and for the first time a President of the USA is confirming it. The white House has turned grey over the lies it has broadcasts for decades to the world. Remember Mr Obama special on Bin Laden and now the Trumpers strategic patience with north Korea?

    Rex MinorRecommend