Donald Trump Wants Me Out of America

I don’t post much to Facebook, and almost never anything of substance (on purpose). However, Donald Trump’s rhetoric about barring Muslims from the U.S. — including tourists, resident aliens, and American citizens who are trying to return to their home — prompted me to post the following.

My parents immigrated here in the 1970s. My mom, who came in her early 20s, got involved in politics to help build the society she dreamed of (my brother and I got are leftie-liberals because of her). My father, a little older than her, taught English (often at HSBCs) to young people and adults as a professor. I can’t believe they were so young. Despite their age they built something out of almost nothing (I remember some of their struggles as I grew up). However our home was always a place that gave back — to non-Muslims, to Bangladeshi immigrants like my parents, and to other Muslims. When I think back, their contributions to this country, to Muslims and non-Muslims, white and black Americans, far outweigh those of the people now suggesting that immigrants should barred from entering it. Like most immigrants to the U.S., they chose this place to build their lives, they were thankful to be here, and to contribute to the place they lived.

Their sacrifices and bravery allowed me to be born here, to follow my passions in Japan, law, and technology. I speak Japanese because they gave me a chance in the U.S. I became a lawyer, in two states, because of that opportunity. I get to work in the tech industry because they they gave up comfortable middle-class lives and their families to be here. I never would have been able to do the things I have accomplished in Bangladesh. I got to follow my passions because I lived here.

This has been my home (how could it not be? I was born here, grew up on Sesame Street and Ninja Turtles, and lived my entire life here). When I studied abroad, I hung out with Muslims from a variety of countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Turkey. However, the people I spent the most time with were Americans, because I myself am an American. As an American citizen, I have no obligation to “fight” for those rights I’ve already been granted as a citizen (as Michael Tomasky, writing for The Daily Beast suggests), nor am I obligated (or even able) to somehow “fix” crazy people professing to be Muslim.

In addition to barring Muslim immigrants and tourists, one of the rights Trump wants to take away is the ability to return to for Muslim-Americans to home after going abroad. What Trump is saying is that, if I (or any member of my family) leave the country, we will be barred from returning. If I go to Japan, or my father visits his family’s home in Dhaka, or my mother leaves the U.S. to visit any of her numerous extended family, we can’t return home. Their home since the 1970s, mine for the last 32 years. When did this even become acceptable discourse?

The fact is the hostility we’re creating toward Muslims and people of color hurts this country. I’m reading Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States and it’s no exaggeration to say that immigrants helped define the United States from its inception. Donald Trump, and America’s bigot-class want to block those people from coming here. In addition we’re creating an environment in which Americans who can and do contribute to this country are being forced to leave because they are Muslim.

I remember living in Japan. A lot of people who never lived there have this (wrong-headed) impression that Japan or Japanese people are xenophobic. But I always felt welcomed, and I’ll never forget the thousands of kindnesses, large and small, that I experienced there. As a teacher, it felt like people valued my contributions. I certainly never had the experience of waking up and having a politician and many of his supporters calling for me to be removed or kicked out. However, in the country I was born and my passport was issued, I now wake daily to new to hear that people like me are un-American (and that negates my contributions to this country) and that people like my parents should never be given the chance to make their lives here.

I also remember 9/11. I was in high school, and confused and then horrified by what happened (so Trump’s assertion that Muslims were cheering the attack is especially confusing for me). I got called names (sand nigger, camel jockey, paki). My brother was beat up. We got it on both sides — my parents were afraid both of attacks by terrorists and our safety with angry Americans. The now irony is that after 9/11 I feared that they’d deport my father, since he is a resident alien. Now, not only is he at risk, but I fear for my brother and myself, even though we’re American citizens. We’re not even very religious (unless Nintendo counts as a religion).

Could Trump’s proposal ever actually happen in the U.S.? As a lawyer, no, I don’t think so (but then, we are the country that interned American citizens of Japanese descent, so who knows). But calls like this degrade the political discourse. Bigots and the hateful feel more comfortable expressing their vile opinions (and acting on them). There’s been plenty of bigotry since 9/11 and the discourse seems worse in the last few months. Honestly, it takes a toll.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t fear Donald Trump; he’s a reality TV star and a clown. I do fear the people who gave his remarks a 24-second standing ovation. And I’m just tired of seeing their views, unashamedly posted and infecting every the comments on every article I read, my Facebook feed, and posts on Twitter. I’m tired enough to take a break from Facebook, from Twitter from most social media (and if you know me, that’s saying a lot, since I check social media like a nervous tic). Is it too much to say I (and anyone, including women and black Americans) shouldn’t have to live like this?

What Donald Trump proposed today, and the environment he has created, hurts America by blocking immigrants like my parents, who chose to live here and contribute to their new homes. Make no mistake, this country would be worse off for losing those new comers. The hostility expressed by Trump and his minions also destroys the lives, safety, and rights of U.S. citizens who contribute to this country as entrepreneurs, programmers, lawyers, doctors, actors, comedians, teachers, fathers, and mothers.

Rant over. Back to posting pictures of Mario on Facebook.

Update: After being questioned on Fox, Trump suggests his plan wouldn’t include U.S. military or Muslims “living” in the U.S. He does say, however, that both groups would be watched. He also doesn’t answer the question of what happens when an American Muslim leaves the country and then tries to return. Trump’s statements are also contradicted by his spokesperson Hope Hicks who says the policy applies to “everyone” (at least everyone who is even nominally Muslim). And just to keep our score cards updated, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have both avoided criticizing Trump’s remarks.

Update 2: Trump’s response to criticism about his proposals: “I don’t care.” Unsurprisingly, he also compared it (favorably) to the internment of Japanese Americans and noted that it was “common sense.”

As I mentioned, it’s Trump is a coward and a clown. It’s his supporters I really fear:

However, many of Trump’s rally attendees were supportive of Trump’s statement.
“I believe that Islam is not really a religion,” said 68-year-old Vietnam veteran Hoyt Wood. “It’s a violent blood cult. That’s what Islam is. Let’s call it what it is. They preach that they’re gonna kill Christians, cut off their heads — that’s not my definition of a religion.”
35-year-old Jimmy Keller, a fiber technician for Dupont Kevlar, drove 45 minutes from Moncks Corner to attend the rally. Keller got his shirt signed by Trump after the rally.
“I think that plan needs to go into effect,” Keller said. “At the same time, once we get a good organization going where we can figure out which ones are causing the problems — we need to figure out which ones are radicalized, which ones aren’t. If they can get in and zero in and basically eliminate the ones that are radicalized, I think we’ll be great.”

The comments sections of the articles get even better. These comments are acceptable because statements by Trump (and other Republicans including Cruz and Santorum) create an environment that allows bigots to express their views without shame.

I don’t agree with much of what Mr. Trump promotes, but in this case, I do. We should have closed the borders to Muslims directly after 911. We trained those pilots that flew into the twin towers right here, and they were living among us acting quite harmless. We ARE at war; it has been called upon us. Part of war is securing the country, inside and out, closing the borders-especially when the enemy is not easily identified.
Trump is right again. We don’t need these people in America.
…liberals are afraid of what Islam represents and teaches in its Quran…moderate Muslims, if in fact they are faithful Muslims, believe in what is stated in the Quran, and it’s no more extreme than what any of the other “Islamic extremists” believe…they’re just not doing anything about it..there is also extreme deception by Muslims to those gullible into believing they’re peaceful and kind, loving, and accepting…they’re not…do your research folks…the internet has plenty of references of the Quran verses (surahs) that talk about their true goals…total annihilation and/or domination of the world with sharia…convert, or be beheaded or crucified or burned alive…don’t be deceived…don’t fall for their Quran dictate of taqiyya…Islam wants to annihilate western civilization and impose its religion on everyone else…the media needs to start reporting on this…
Turkey’s President Erdogan said, “Islam is Islam. There are no modifiers. Democracy is the train we ride to our ultimate objective (World Domination via Shariah Law).”
U.S. Admiral (Ret.) James “Ace” Lyons said (in Feb. 2015), “Until you recognize that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion you will never come to grips with it.”

And considering both the education of many immigrants (including my English professor father) and America’s own history, this comment is among my “favorites.”

Where is it written that we have to let in the uneducated, the dumbest of the dumb, the poorest and most indigent, the lazy, the evil, those who hate America, those who want to impose Sharia law here or any other ideology except FREEDOM? We are within our rights, and it is our duty, to allow in only those who want to assimilate and become good AMERICANS. That means learning and speaking English, no welfare, no government support, and WE get to pick and choose only the best of the best.

Rick Santorum had this to say on Trump’s proposal:

“I wouldn’t support a ban on all Muslims coming into this country, but what I would say is that this administration has proven that they’re vetting techniques are sorely lacking, and it’s not surprising because they don’t believe that Islam is a problem,” he said. “And I’m sure, I don’t know, but I suspect that they may not be asking the right questions of people who are going through this vetting process. So I understand why Donald Trump is saying what he’s saying.”