I am not teary-eyed at the departure of President Barack Hussein Obama (though it was damned nice to have a US supremo with that middle name) as many lament his exit. I am not going to say goodbye to “America’s first Muslim president” with cuddly feelings of warmth, like he was a part of the family. I do understand the angst but cannot partake in the nostalgia or sentimental analysis that doesn’t reflect soberly on his track record.
Today is a new day. Gangster-in-chief Trump’s proclamations and cabinet picks will translate into a war on minorities: Blacks, Latinos, women, Muslims, Jews and LGBTQ. The appointment of non-experts in positions such as: Secretary of State, Environment, Education, Housing, etc. means the greater decay of these institutions and the USA. He decried the,
“crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
What this actually means is a throwback and reinforcement of policies that ravaged Black and Brown communities: the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, harsh laws for petty offenses, draconian immigration laws, and the militarization of the police. To “bring back the borders” means to separate and divide families, for more immigrants and refugees to die of thirst and starvation in the deserts and wastelands of the Southwest.
The animosity and threat isn’t simply subtle or indirect. Based on Trump’s rhetoric and the views of those who surround him, there will be a holy “war on Islam”; fodder for ISIS/AlQaeda videos and recruitment. Trump and company may use rhetoric such as he did in today’s inauguration speech about taking on “radical Islamic terrorism,” and eradicating it “from the face of the earth” but in reality the distinctions between Islam and violent militants will not be hard and clear.
Seemingly positive statements about working with “moderates” and “reformers” will be coupled with the elision of Islam with “terrorism” or as in the Bush years “fascism,” and “evil.” He may even appoint Asra Nomani as Chief Islamic Reformist! On the other side he will empower and embolden Christian dominionists and Zionist allies who can’t wait for Jerusalem to be recognized by the US as Israel’s capital.
Muslim American institutions will be attacked. Ted Cruz’s bill to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” is just a front to go after American organizations such as CAIR, ICNA, ISNA, MPAC etc. that the right attempts to label as “Muslim Brotherhood front organizations.” The worst excesses of the “War On Terror” are set to continue and expand, including torture, extraordinary renditions, black sites, assassinations, curbs on civil liberties and personal rights. Anti-Sharia law bills will be reintroduced as they have been in two states already. Hate crimes and violations of civil rights will be given less attention and no priority.
The parallels between Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech and Trump’s “American carnage” are striking despite the distance of 48 years. It has the same xenophobic stench and the same foreboding darkness. However, Powell never held a senior political post after the speech which was widely panned whereas Trump is slated to lead the US for the next four years.
Not all is lost. This is a time when those in the US and their friends and supporters abroad must come together in true solidarity. It is not Utopian or idealist to believe that we can make the world a better place. Instead of “bringing back the borders,” I hope and pray that we will break them.