Condemning Trump is Not Enough
In two new critical and urgent pieces, our Director john a. powell and our Global Justice Program director Elsadig Elsheikh situate the current climate of Islamophobia as a continuation of a deeper historical anxiety towards those considered "Other" in the US—whether they be the racial Other, the immigrant Other, or the religious Other—and how this anxiety is being strategically stoked for political gain. Both pieces exemplify our position at the Haas Institute in calling for a response that is active, vigilant, and outspoken against anti-Muslim sentiment, policies, and politicians that reinforce and exploit the current xenophobic climate.
- In his Huffington Post piece What Trump Gets Right, john powell reveals why Donald Trump's tactic of using explicitly racist language in his bid for presidency is a new deviation from politicians' traditional reliance on coded language, or “dog whistles,” to express the same sentiments. At the same time, john notes, Trump has also done something that those of us who care about inclusion should have done some time ago—he has linked the challenge to a system rigged in favor of elites and corporations with issues of race, immigration, and religion. john challenges us to lean into the space that Trump has opened up to connect the reality of extreme economic inequality with the separate but related issue of who we are and we who we might become, with one critical difference — we must do so from a worldview that is not based on fear, but on hope and possibility. john argues that we must "acknowledge our collective anxiety and begin to shape a different story and a different possible future. Can we conceive of a government that is responsive and works to include all people? Can we conceive of a set of economic structures and policies that serve people and not just the elites? Can we tell this story and build this reality? This is our challenge." Read What Trump Gets Right.
- Elsadig Elsheikh pieces together a historical analysis of Islamophobia, centering on a "clash of civilizations" mentality that is not just rhetorical in nature, but has also led to many acts of violence and overtly anti-Muslim laws and policies. "Islamophobia has manifested in a policing regime that engages in the profiling, surveillance, torturing and detention of people along racial and religious lines.. and forms the basis of an ideological position that views Muslims as a threat to “Western” civilization and justifies their subordination and marginalization." In the context of Donald Trump's and other politicians escalation in anti-Muslim rhetoric, "such ideological positioning threatens to tilt the American political landscape to fascist tendencies." Elsadig frames why it is not enough to merely condemn Trump, but why we must engage in "opposition to such rhetoric and policies, in order to fight against a rising tide of demagoguery that has the potential to turn into outright fascism in American politics." Read Condemning Donald Trump is Not Enough: The Genealogy of Demagoguery and Islamophobia.