I am a heartland Muslim and I don’t think all Trump supporters are racist

RNS-KHAN-OPED

Saeed A. Khan is a lecturer at Wayne State University in Detroit and co-teaches a course on Muslim-Christian diversity at Rochester College.

Source: Religion News Service

By Saeed A Khan

The election of Donald Trump has been met by exactly half this country with jubilation and by the other half with extreme trepidation.

For the latter, the next four years are a matter of palpable anxiety due to two indisputable realities: a campaign that was unprecedented in recent memory regarding its demonization of entire segments of our society based upon religion, gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity; and a reaction among some of Trump’s supporters, emboldened by their candidate’s victory, to lash out at members of each of those groups with abuse and in some cases, violence.

Clearly, racism and bigotry are on display because they were unleashed, perhaps normalized, by a political strategy to mobilize voters. But to infer that all of Trump’s supporters are rabid racists, or even motivated by such base impulses, would be as ironically absurd as those who contend that all Muslims are terrorists. An accurate assessment of the election and the reality of this nation requires nuance, not the replacement of one binary narrative with another.

Admittedly, my background is not typical of the average Muslim American; at the same time, it is also evident that it differs from at least half of the national experience as well, if the election alignments are any indication.

I spent my teenage years growing up in Lapeer, Mich., a small town about an hour north of Detroit and a half-hour east of Flint.

In the early ’80s, while I was in high school, the recession hit; Flint died as General Motors closed down several facilities. Lapeer was a feeder community for the auto industry. With facility closures in Pontiac and Detroit, Lapeer suffered as a whole. There were no liberals; no conservatives. There were simply people suffering, but they did so with incomprehensible dignity. There was no bitterness, no call for pity, no lawlessness. Lapeer was a community whose people came together to help each other cope with a crisis.

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