I believe that America is still the best country for immigrants. But freedom and liberty can never be taken for granted… Trump was not the cause but a symptom.
Dr. Shaik Ubaid | Clarion India
AS the inauguration of Joe Biden approaches, federal law enforcement agencies and state and local governments are issuing alerts about violence by racist Trump supporters. Immigrant communities in the US are on high alert for any attacks on their places of worship, residences and individuals, especially women. This heightened alert should be in place for the next few weeks. The advice that I had been giving to Muslim community, I am also sharing with my other immigrant brothers and sisters of brown colour.
Very soon after I landed in America in the mid-1980s I became active with the African-American mosques and was surprised to see how much their leadership stressed on physical security of mosques and their members. I learned from them many things including the fact that we must never forget that we are a tiny minority in a country where citizens are heavily armed and racism is alive. Affluent immigrants get into a false sense of security and live in a delusion as if they are white people. They live in scattered suburbs, always on the lookout for moving into more “desirable neighbourhoods”.
This is fine as long as racism is under control and the rule of law is very strong. But democracy, rule of law and xenophobia are societal states that fluctuate. People forget that as recently as the 1950s, lynching of African Americans was not unheard of in the South and racist laws were in effect till the mid-60s. After all USA is a country which was founded after the extermination of the native inhabitants and whose economic foundation was laid down by slave labor. The tolerance of immigrants especially educated ones is a recent phenomenon in American history.
It is therefore ironical that Hindutva groups in the US, blinded with their hate for Muslims, support the Islamophobic White supremacists. They do not realize that these White supremacists too blinded with their hate of all non-white people. Many of them are not highly educated and will not differentiate between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. They believe all brown skin people should be deported. The hate and weakening of pluralism and rule of law endangers all immigrants
My Muslim immigrant friends and their children would look at me strangely when I would say, “We must not forget that we are brown skin Muslim Americans. We are an integral part of a glorious mosaic but we are a tiny minority. If democracy and rule of law weakens we will be really vulnerable. Therefore it is very important that we do not teach our children to excel just in education and go after lucrative careers but teach them survival instincts and encourage them to go for political empowerment as well.”
I believe that America is still the best country for immigrants. But freedom and liberty can never be taken for granted. It is not that Americans are evil people but that Americans are human beings. It is normal for human beings to feel insecure when the domination of the majority community is threatened demographically, politically, economically or religiously. Situation like this becomes usually exploitable for a demagogue even if the threat to majority is a fabricated one. We saw it in Hitler’s Germany and Milosevic’s Serbia and are seeing it in Modi’s India.
After 9/11 when Islamophobia started to spread first as a natural phenomenon after the terrorist attack but later because of efforts from the well-oiled Islamophobia industry, I predicted that things would get worse if a demagogue starts to exploit the declining white population. I mentioned it in his speech at an anti-war conference in 2010 when for the first time the ratio of the white babies among the newborn fell below 50%.
Even after Trump won the presidency and continued his racist attacks the minority communities continued to live in denial. This would all go away once Trump’s presidency would end they would say. They would not realize that Trump was not the cause but a symptom. After the assault on the Capitol Hill where a predominately white mob attacked the temple of US government, my immigrant friends started to wake up in a panic. The mob did not just include angry white men in tattoos and strange headgear but also included firefighters, retired army people, policeman and even doctors and state legislators.
It has now become easy for people like me to teach our communities to not live in denial. Not for the next three or four decades when the older scared white population will fade away and a younger population which will be more comfortable with the browning of America would replace it.
Then the strengthening of America’s democracy, which hopefully would start the day Joe Biden takes office will accelerate. This will happen because America is the land of immigrants and also because America teaches it’s to own the oppression committed by it in the past and encourages them to learn from it. This is a far cry from Europe where nationalism is much stronger. I am most worried about India where hundreds of millions of children are taught strident nationalism in the form of falsified history.
Even in the darkest hour of America I still consider it as a hope for the world were a rising totalitarian China immune to domestic pressure will be offering protection to other tyrants in the world; and it will not be a restrained one as offered by the US currently. Rise of nationalistic xenophobia will make it much more difficult for the world to handle the upcoming climate refugee crisis that would be changing regional demographics. My ardent prayer is that may God heal and guide America so that it can guide the world.
Dr. Shaik Ubaid is a community organizer, and a practicing neurologist. He is active in the inter-faith arena. He is the Co-Chair of Alliance to Save and Protect America from Infiltration by Religious Extremists ASPAIRE.org. He presented a panel discussion at the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City on “Sharing the lessons from the intr-Afaith struggles against extremism”, where leaders of major religions shared their communities’ struggle against extremism.