Travel Ban: The Un-American, America

Jarin Islam, with the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, during a news conference amid a solidarity rally with the Muslim community of Los Angeles in response to President Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration, on February 3, 2017. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

As a Middle Eastern American and as a person who advocates for all human rights, I am ashamed to admit that I feel an insurmountable relief to not be considered a Muslim American.

Syrian-Lebanese Christians, as myself, are considered a minority within a minority. In fact, many of our ancestors were persecuted because of the beliefs within our own countries. We were lucky enough to find refuge in other countries where we could live away from the war’s destruction. Now, America is no longer an option to Middle easterners when it comes to seeking refuge from the bloodshed that occurs in their country.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order banning refugees from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S. His intensions were to keep out “radical, Islamic terrorists.” As a result, less refugees will be entering the U.S. and will remain in the face of immediate danger within their homeland.

The larger impact of the ban sends a much more penetrating and obscene message: Muslims are the source behind all of America’s problems.

Muslims have been the target of America’s terrorist scapegoat prior to 9/11 and have been treated with anxiety and slandered against due to stereotypes that were born from media exaggeration.

Mainstream media has labeled them as a crazed, power obsessed, religiously radical, violent group of people, but this ‘truth’ that has been fed to us is a complete lie. They are continuously misunderstood, misrepresented, and mislabeled in American media as terrorists, Jihadists and radicals.

On the contrary, Muslim people are incredibly peaceful, kind and giving people that don’t deserve the scrutiny that has been thrust towards them. They are violent in the same sense that every white Christian is violent, think of Aurora, Colorado, or Columbine.

The media is and has been defining an entire group of people for the actions of a few, rather than the reality of many.

Trump is not helping alleviate the negative portrayal of Muslim faith any further with his ban.

Trump’s singularization of the Muslim people through this ban tells us as Americans that Muslims are the reason for the declining welfare of our nation, and further implies that they are not welcome in this country. The ban dismisses the fact that this nation was founded by immigrants from all walks of the world. Moreover, it shows that Americans no longer have religious freedom, and that this land is no longer a place for all. Instead, it is a place that persecutes all for disagreeing with certain political, social or religious belief. Most of all, this ban shows how unwittingly and dismissively Trump is ready to deny citizens and refugees alike. American ideology of liberty for all, for which this country was founded upon, and that anyone is welcome to the land of liberty and freedom, is gone.

Trump is singlehandedly destabilizing the foundation of this country that was built by immigrants by allowing America to become more fundamentally un-American through this Muslim ban.

As children, we were taught the words “This land is your land, this land is my land.” We believed these words, and we meant it from the bottom of our hearts.

I miss that America, and I believe in that America. I believed we welcomed all people of different shapes, sizes, colors, religions, and backgrounds with open arms. I thought we could call them our brothers and sisters.

I believed in equality for all, and I believed that everyone, no matter who they are, is allowed the same fundamental rights in this country, in which one could find salvation.

When we turn on each other, we become un-American. We become divided as a nation and therefore stray from the best version of ourselves, and in turn we stray from the best version this country can be, one that is for the people and by the people.

I want to believe in that again, I want to believe in the ideal, celestial, golden version of America that was presented to me at a young age. I want it for myself, and I want it for everyone alike that needs something to believe in. Everyone deserves an equal and fighting chance to live the life they want to live without adversity and prejudice.