At The Baffler website, Hussein Ibish makes a counterintuitive but compelling claim: while the recent resurgence of Islamophobia in the US is a frightening development, it also represents a political opportunity for Muslim Americans. Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, argues Ibish, should compel Muslim Americans to become politically organized and to forge powerful alliances with other targeted groups, such as Latino immigrants. Here's an excerpt from the piece:
There is no doubt that the cultural and political mainstreaming of Islamophobia in the Trump era is profoundly alarming. But the moment is ripe with genuine possibilities for political organization and wider civic acceptance over the longer term. Muslim Americans now find themselves in roughly the same position as millions of other members of racial and ethnic minorities: targeted by the rhetoric of an intolerant administration and its fan base that derives much of its energy from hatred, scapegoating, and demonization. This means that the American Muslim community now possesses—unwillingly, no doubt—vital new opportunities for coalition building, and creating new modes of cross-racial and religiously plural solidarity. And this means, in turn, that American Muslims can mount new and sturdier grassroots and national cultural efforts to mainstream the community ...
Nonetheless, the central place of anti-Muslim hatred in the Trumpian spectrum of indeed deplorably hateful attitudes is why a new mobilization of Muslim Americans represents not only an urgent tool of survival, but also a dramatic moment of political opportunity. Islamophobia is now part and parcel of a broader agenda of intolerance, nativism, and white nationalism aimed at huge portions of the country. And this threat is demanding and receiving massive resistance from the energized center-left axis of tolerance in American civic life. During the few days that the “travel ban” was in force, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans participated in those airport protests and mobilized otherwise to resist. Millions, including many conservatives and Republicans, made their disgust with the scarcely concealed racism behind the ban quite clear. (Just yesterday, in fact, George W. Bush gave an interview to People magazine deploring the racism that the Trump administration echoes and legitimizes in American life.)
Image via The Baffler