Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., President/CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.
TriceEdney — The last name I wanted to mention in my column this week or during this “Season of Peace” was Donald Trump! I consider it a travesty, especially at this time of the year, to give platform to a xenophobic, misogynistic racist! The time taken to refute the bile of hatred and intolerance he regularly spews forth only lengthens his time in the public limelight and engenders unnecessary debate and discussion of his positions. Unfortunately, I could not allow Trump’s “Ban the Muslim” comment to go unanswered and felt compelled to add my thoughts to the sentiment of the many who, rightly, condemn him.
Lest anyone forget, since his campaign began, as well as Muslims, Trump has disparaged Hispanics, women, African Americans, the physically disabled, Fox News commentators, and anyone else he assumed critiqued him harshly or asked him a question that displeased him. Unlike those who have excused him and his ardent fans, I cannot overlook his “Muslim” comments or minimize their negative impact.
From personal experiences in that cultural/religious environment, I can assure you that few who share or understand the Muslim world-view will forget his comments. His comments have jeopardized all who represent US interests in the Muslim world. Our diplomats, soldiers and citizens will now embody the hostile ravings of Trump and, in a region torn with violent acts, become targets of retribution. It is understandable that so many have identified the Republican position on Muslims as a “War on Islam.”
Sadly, although condemned from many circles, Trump’s comments are indicative of a larger problem facing this nation. As reprehensible as his comments were, they are only made more objectionable by the 68% of Republican sympathizers/self-identified voters who continue to support Trump and the policies of exclusion he proposes. The lukewarm criticism he has received from his fellow presidential candidates is reflective of many of the veiled anti-Muslim comments they have already made during this campaign season.
What has been made customary in this campaign, by all of the Republican candidates, is their appeal to hatred, intolerance and fear. They are using the oldest tricks in the book to psychologically manipulate the masses. Through historical analysis, we should have learned how destructive this course of action can be.
An example of Trump’s folly is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This was another “temporary” law with a ten-year life signed by President Chester A. Arthur. Instead of expiring, it was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. This was the first law established in the US to restrict the immigration of a specific ethnic group. This temporary law was finally repealed in 1943 after 61 years.
Our excursion into national folly was repeated by the Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson-Reed Act). It limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from ANY country, severely restricted the immigration of Africans, and imposed an outright ban on Asian and Arab immigrants. The State Department Office of the Historian purposes this act as a means “to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity.” Other historians credit this act as being a significant contributor to hostilities leading to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and our involvement in WWII.
Most Americans will smugly condemn 1930’s era Germany and its leader for psychotic enmity toward a specific ethnic group. Those with a little knowledge will point to the devolution of the values of that nation and its people. They will speak to the on-going impact of the barbarity of WWII era Germany and the stain it has left on the German character. Some Americans will do that without the slightest concern for our own current national temperament.
Trump is misguided, but he is not alone. Where do you stand?
Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: www.nationalcongressbw.org. 202/678-6788