One mistake people make today is the assumption that anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States began with the campaign and election of Donald Trump to the presidency. In fact, no. This all began quite some time ago. It began shortly after September 11th, 2001 and has continued ever since. All Trump has done is bring it to the forefront where it can no longer be swept under the carpet and ignored by Americans.
See, I can remember when shortly after 9/11, a Sikh man was shot to death in the United States because he was mistaken for a Muslim. Why? Because many ignorant Americans think everyone who wears a turban must be a Muslim. Of course, many Muslims wear a kufi, at which point some Americans mistake them for Jews since they don't know the difference from one skullcap to another. There was even an Orthodox Jew removed from an airliner when a passenger heard him saying prayers in Hebrew and thought he was speaking Arabic and, thus, must be a terrorist. Especially since he also had a beard and was dressed differently.
See, I can remember back in 2012 when a boycott was organized against Halal turkey in the United States when it was heard a prominent meatpacker was offering Halal turkeys for Thanksgiving. And that meatpacker caved in to the bigoted hysteria and flame-fanning and pulled Halal turkeys from the shelf. I still remember what was being said. Such as, "terrorist turkeys" and "Muslim turkeys". As if those turkeys would cause someone to become a Muslim simply by eating it. And this mass ignorance went unchecked because people felt it would not spread like the virulent disease that hatred and bigotry is.
See, I can remember that the biggest smear against Barack Obama in 2008 was that he was a "secret Muslim". As if Islam is some secret society like the Freemasons. And people were in a panic, thinking he would put forth the "Muslim agenda" (whatever that is) if elected. And people reacted to this as if it had any merit whatsoever and had to repeatedly convince America that Obama was a Christian, and not a Muslim. To his credit, Colin Powell came out and asked if there is something wrong with being a Muslim in America.
See, I can remember that in North Carolina, three Muslims were shot to death by a self-professed atheist simply because they were Muslim. And there were armed anti-Islam protestors in front of mosques across America to intimidate worshippers. The police sat there and said, well, it's their right to carry firearms. In front of a house of God?! Really?! I can remember that a mosque was burned to the ground in a "suspicious fire". I can remember mosques vandalized and desecrated. All before Trump ran for president. Now America wants to sit here like bumps on a log and act like this wasn't going on before Trump was elected. Wrong! It's been going on for years!
America has this problem of living in denial and refusing to see that things don't just begin happening because one guy gets elected. America wants to act like Muslims weren't being harassed and assaulted for years before Trump. America wants to forget Muslim women that had to go to a federal court against a major retail chain that denied them the right to wear the hijab at work, long before Trump. No, America, you don't get to take the easy way out and say, "It's all Trump's fault!" It isn't. It is that people closed their eyes to the reality of what was going on. And Obama did not wave a magic wand and eliminate racism and bigotry from the American people.
People want to act like during the presidency of Barack Obama, these things were not happening. Well, they were happening. There were political cartoons in major newspapers that depicted Arabic people with heavily-exaggerated facial features they once reserved for Jews back in the 1890s. You know, big noses, thick lips, and swarthy complexion. As if no one in Syria, Iraq, or anywhere else looks different from one another. And these cartoons always depicted them wearing turbans which, again, not all people in the Middle East wear. But when you paint with the broad brush of bigotry and ignorance, everyone looks the same. And is to be feared.
They can't convince me this all started with Trump. The travel ban is just one more example of anti-Muslim bigotry that America stubbornly refuses to admit has infected the population with the disease of hatred. The travel ban just comes right out and says what Americans yell out their car windows at Muslims: "Go back to where you came from!" Trump passed the law because that is what his followers wanted. That's how he got elected.
I point out in my new book, "Regime Change You Can Believe In" that both political parties here like to blame everything on the other party. This is why such a thing as anti-Muslim bigotry can go on and on for years and nothing of worth done about it. Because one party approves of it and the other party wants to act like it's not happening, but if it is, it's the fault of the other party and the other party's job to fix it.
It is the job of all Americans to quit acting like this hasn't been going on for almost two decades now. And own up to the fact America was not "good" or "great" before Trump was elected. No. We've got a long way to go before being good again.
Jack Perry is a writer who lives with his wife in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When talking about the ambitions and goals of the United States government, Jack warns: "Always Assume It's A Scam." Jack writes, bakes bread, and is a Path pilgrim and wayfarer of this world.