Author: azm2107

In an effort to discuss the rise anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Middle Ages, my history class was tasked to read an op-ed by Dr. Sarah Lipton entitled “The Words that Killed the Jews.” In it, she takes on the task of comparing Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim (and anti-immigrant and anti-abortion) rhetoric, with the way language gave rise to violence against the Jews across Europe at the time. The op-ed attempts to make the point that violent language can and should be blamed for noted increases in attacks against Muslims, immigrants, and Planned Parenthood. In discussion, a Jewish student objected to this comparison, as she felt that it conflated the issue, trivialized Jewish suffering then, and forgot about anti-Semitism that exists today. I disagreed but I didn’t say anything because I felt it would disrupt the class and make us stray entirely from the point, but I feel it is important to understand why these connections should, in fact, be made:

Images of the Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition are constantly fresh and present in popular consciousness as two of the greatest tragedies of all time. The Holocaust, especially, has been memorialized time and again with films, museums, books, articles and the like. And mentions of the Holocaust often come with the caveat: Never Forget. We promise to never forget these past atrocities and its countless victims, but what people tend to forget is that the term was also popularized as a warning to never allow something like it to happen ever again. Because the Holocaust was allowed to happen. The Nuremberg laws were published publicly. The mass deportations were no secret. The ghettos weren’t hidden away. People watched as bad things happened to innocent people and they did nothing to stop it. So we promised to never forget. We promised to never allow the bystander effect to keep the whole world standing still while innumerable men, women, and children were massacred.

And yet, Donald Trump can say that he wants to force Muslims to wear clear marks of identity. He wants to perform mass deportation on the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, to send them back to places they’re escaping from largely due to problems the U.S. itself created. People are quick to highlight how similar Donald Trump’s campaign ideals are to Adolf Hitler’s, not out of a desire to trivialize Jewish suffering or to deny the existence of anti-Semitism, but in fulfilment of the promise we all made to Never Forget. By drawing these comparisons, we are actively honoring the memories of those who have been lost,we are ensuring that their deaths aren’t so in vain, and that we, as a society, won’t allow these things to happen again.

History is a potent driving force. Humans are fickle creatures, afraid of change and afraid of making decisive decisions. When we show someone how something happened in the past, we ground our claims in an undeniable reality. By linking Donald Trump’s rhetoric to historical counterparts that led to great tragedies, the historian paints a picture of what can happen if we do not stand up and stand firm for those who may lack imagination. The historian, as an artist, commemorates the victims in history not by painting a picture that will sit in a museum, but by creating one that should stir people to action.

An open letter to the man who stopped me on the street to tell me that “we should have never let you n****** into this country” and then tried to hit me,

I have no anger in my heart against you. I don’t hate you. I have no bad wishes for you. I only hope that you can find in your heart the love and forgiveness that I have.
That being said, you had no right to say that to me. You had no right to make me feel unsafe on my morning walk to school. You had no right to traumatize me and to make me feel unsafe on a part of my routine. You had no right to try to hurt me. You had no right to tell me that I don’t belong here. New York City is just as much mine as it is yours. This country is just as much mine as it is yours. I have as much right to go to school here and get an education as you do.
But I am not going to justify my faith to you or anyone else.
I am sick and tired of feeling like I have to apologize for atrocities committed by people I’ve never met, like somehow it’s my fault, like somehow I have to justify myself, like somehow I have to say out loud that I am not a terrorist. It’s ridiculous and unfair.
I am a Muslim. But I am also an Egyptian, an American, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a student and most importantly, I am a human.
But instead of being treated as such, you treat me like an abstract concept, like a statistic, like a news story on suicide bombings and terrorist threats. If you got to know me or any Muslim, you’d know that we are people. We do things like everyone else, we lead lives and do normal things like drink coffee and cry over TV shows and contrary to the picture painted by popular media, the fair majority of us don’t spend our days plotting the fall of the West. We, Muslims, think these terrorists are just as crazy and sick as you do.
So please, educate yourself. Muslims shouldn’t have to keep telling the entire world who we are, and we shouldn’t have to be held accountable for the actions of perverse, lost souls who have been grossly miseducated about the Message of our Prophet.

All of which is to say, if anyone is willing to listen to me talk, I’d be glad to educate them on who Muslims really are.

Yours Sincerely,

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