Natasha (N): As much as I hate to add to the frenzy of opinions that bombard us on a daily basis in relation to the presidential race, today is Election Day. That means a lot of different things to different people. For us, it means that millions of people will be casting their vote for a man who has openly classified followers of our religion as enemies. So, it’s the perfect time for us to get some closure on how we’ve been feeling about this.
Faryal (F): I think what scares me the most is what this election has revealed about the American people. At the end of the day, as crazy as we make Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sound, he has a lot of support. There are people with opinions as extreme or more extreme than his. He has essentially validated their feelings, which existed long before him.
N: I think it’s crucial to realize that Donald Trump merely filled an empty slot, so regardless of the outcome, this election cycle has released a lot of hate has been released, which likely won’t just evaporate once the ballots are cast.
F: This isn’t a trendy issue that will be fixed overnight. This open animosity toward Muslims is being further ingrained into our American culture every passing day. It’s not just going to blow over.
N: On a happier note though, this race has caused a new mass mobilization of Muslims that we haven’t really seen before. Seeing prominent and admired Americans such as Huma Abedin and Fareed Zakaria, just to name a few, “come out” as Muslim is a critical first step in enhancing the collective civic engagement of this extremely varied demographic.
F: I agree. I think that this election has forced many Muslims to come to terms with their identity. We’re no longer a model minority that can hide and stay passive. Our civil rights are in danger and no one can fight for them as well as we can. Empirically, the United States cycles through bouts of hate. One day, one group might be used as a scapegoat for a hardship; the next decade, another group — maybe yours — might be blamed for society’s woes.
N: As both an observer and a participant in civil society, I feel that Islam’s encounters with the civic realm have this permanent strain because radical conservatives seem to have the loudest collective voice. This has prevented the formation of a cohesive political identity. While there is a more clearly-defined POC stance on various elements of the election, the only reason Muslim Americans joined the discourse is because of Trump’s “Muslim Ban” comments. This has forced us to reconcile two emerging political identities and decide how to filter our political stances. While we can all collectively stand against Trump, I worry that our approaches and more intricate views will be tougher to unify or even establish once the race is won.
F: Vote the way you want to this Election Day. Just remember that it’s not just you who will be affected. Your neighbors, classmates and other Americans will be affected by this elections for decades to come.