Gathered at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to protest President Trump’s temporary ban which effects seven nations targeted for security considerations, the Muslims bowed in prayer. As the image came across the news wire I asked the usual questions: Who, what, when, where, how and why?
Led by activist Sheikh Omar Suleiman, the image is a poignant one. The prayer leader is well known. He is also the star “witness” in a BBC documentary, “The United States of Hate”. Since this is a documentary-by-video-clips, a documentary-by-sound-bites, I watched the production in increments of five minutes. This allowed for perusing a few facts.
Early on, Mr. Suleiman introduces us to a small group of protesters outside a mosque in Phoenix. Beyond the sidewalk in front of the mosque, is the sound of silence. Phoenix has 1.5 million who have not shown up for the protest. Citizens are walking the dog, watering their lawns and playing with their children. A beggarly handful at the mosque, the remainder enjoying this blessing called America.
The film gives accurate diagnosis for Omar Suleiman’s dilemma. “He sees Islamophobia everywhere.” Gee. Everywhere I look there is anticipation of a chocolate candy bar awaiting me. But then again, I am a simple woman. Jesus accurately stated, “Seek and ye shall find.” And whilst he was not speaking of confirmation bias it does seem that if we seek the good in people it is to be found. If we seek out the bad it is also there. The question is one of our own orientation. In a quest to seek out the bad hombres, are we walking past columns of people waving and smiling at us? Sheikh Omar lets us know there is “a very systematic dehumanization of 1.8 billion people.” Oh really? Do tell.
Mr. Suleiman has a Facebook post regarding the documentary and notes (in part) “... it’s not all bad in Dallas... .” So it begs the question. Why stir the pot? Jesus had another admonition and it involved taking the log out of the eye.
Walking into a Muslim home recently I was greeted with “We love you Tammy!” This love translates into the real message at hand: Did you bring us a treat? Of course I bring a treat for the children. And there is a scarf for grandma who always insists on a bit of new fashion. Silently, I move into the kitchen to taste the Egyptian beans bubbling on the stove. The hostess kisses me on both cheeks. We share our thoughts quietly. At times her laughter rings out and mine provides echo. But within the silent moments, an understanding of our acceptance of one another.
But then again, we are experiencing the recent protests regarding the “Muslim ban”. The noise of the few drowns out the silence of the majority.
CNN needs to just be done with it and change their name. They are the Protest National Network. They became a protestation against Donald Trump months ago and there is little let up in their tired and boring theme. Average Americans are now suffering from “protest fatigue”. The over usage of this freedom actually works against protesters. We are becoming ambivalent to the noise. It is like the nagging wife. Her opinion no longer counts.
We are looking beyond the cawing of the crows. And in Edgar Allen Poe fashion we peer toward the vacant eye-like windows of the White House and ponder what is going on. The sound of silence is at work. Perhaps the protests, the angry Presidential tweets are theatrical distraction. While we send up a shout policymakers are at work. We are a Republic. It is law and cogent policies which steer the engine of our governance. The “Muslim ban” is not in any form or fashion punitive. It is administrative pause. President Trump had promised such an action until “we can figure out what the hell is going on”.
The administrative pause is an inconvenience. But it is not savage. Savagery is what happened at San Bernardino. It is an inconvenience. But it is not brutal. Brutality is what happened at the Pulse Club. It is an inconvenience. But those affected can live to fly another day. They are not like those who perished under the wheels of a lorry in Nice, France.
News coming off the wire today gives one (of what is undoubtedly several reasons) why the Sudan has made the list of the ignoble. When you have 22 British medical students who run off from their university studies in Khartoum to join ISIS — this is a problem. Having the title of M.D. does not make for a non-terrorist Muslim. Nidal Hasan taught us that little lesson. Faisal Shahzad reminded us that an MBA with a nice paycheck was hardly cheerful about Americans. He kept a barking dog on a heavy chain as his companion whilst he turned his Nissan Pathfinder into a lethal explosive device. Times Square came close to being a place where the life clock of many would quit ticking. The next Faisal Shahzad will figure out how to set the timer right. The Ambassador from Pakistan will be summoned to the White House, and... and... who knows?
Tonight I ate dinner at a favorite Mediterranean Grill. As I enjoyed dinner with a friend I glanced over to the far corner of the restaurant. Men were facing the Qiblah and bowed in prayer. My friend and I smiled. We were the foreigners present; foreigners present in a sea of hijab and prayer mats. But the food was delicious, the space is rented by Muslims, so who gives a rip? I am under their roof. But those seeking to come here on visas and green cards? You want to come under our roof and it is a big one. My government has a right to keep the roof from collapsing, the foundations/borders secure, and Americans safe. Whatever it takes, my friends. Whatever it takes.
The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org