In the previous prejudice post (Reinforcing the Narrative Against Islam: https://prejudiceplr.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/reinforcing-the-narrative-against-islam/) , I argued that the West reinforces a narrative against Islam. And one of the major ramifications of doing the same is the exclusion of Muslims in the “gray zone”. The Muslims of the gray zone are well-adjusted, assimilated. The ISIS aims to eliminate this gray zone. And the Western-right wing propaganda helps doing the same.
Up until the first week of August, Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan were Gold Star parents, like a lot other in the United States. What this means is, they had lost their son, Humayun Khan, a captain in the U.S. Army, during the Iraq war of 2003. And we only saw a muted response to Trump’s denigration of Muslims and Islam. It was the Democratic National Convention that brought about the outcry of a slain soldier’s parents (Khizr and Ghazala) against Donald Trump’s callousness and his Islamophobia. Quoting from Khizr’s speech during the DNC, he alleged “Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities”.
It is argued that both politicians and the public should have jumped on this much sooner.
What is expected of Muslim-Americans to show their nationalism and patriotism, is a sense of ultimate-sacrifice. Or any sacrifice. In an absence of the same, Muslims in America and the world over are labeled as “terrorists”, for the crimes committed by a bunch of people belonging to the sect. If this incident shows that America can overcome the bigotry and xenophobia that Trump represents, it also shows how much Trump has already set back the nation.
There exists a problem in the choice of family that the Democrats made for making a speech on their convention. The problem in choosing a family that had displayed such extra-ordinary sacrifice and patriotism, is sending out the implicit message that Muslims need to show such extra-ordinary loyalty to deserve the same amount of respect and rights as everyone else.
To add to this, Khizr Khan accentuated this standard by opening his speech with the words “patriotic American Muslims-with undivided loyalty to our country”.
With other politicians such as Bill Clinton making statements and asking Muslims to “stay here and help us win and make a fun together” is putting an unnecessary burden only on one community- we do not see any such demands made to any other community- be it the Mexican Americans or the Jewish Americans.
In the days that ensued, most of the outrage, from both the politicians and the public has been centered about Trump’s criticism of a Gold Star family. And quite wrongly so, because this misses the entire point. There is nothing inherently wrong with openly disagreeing with someone who has lost a child in a battle.
What makes Donald Trump’s attack on the Khans odious is not the fact that he criticized a father and mother, who lost their son in a war. It’s the anti-Muslim bigotry that he displays. The reasons why all of us should embrace the Khans and repudiate Trump’s claims is not because they are Gold Star parents and Trump is not. It’s because the Khans stand to defend religious liberty, while he is menacing it.
Image Credits: Garry Knight, Flickr