“The Era of a Palestinian State is Over”
Plummeting financial markets and devalued currencies aside, you know you’re in for a really bad day when you have Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and Vladimir Putin all making public statements of joy and support for something that has transpired. Feelings of impending doom are further solidified when what has transpired results in Israel’s Education Minister, Nafatli Bennet confidently declares to the Knesset, “the era of a Palestinian state is over”.
Lesser of Two Evils
Like millions of people around the world, I went to bed on Tuesday night confident in knowing that come sunrise, the American electorate would have elected Hilary. While this was by no means something to be ecstatic about, her challenger in the race, Donald Trump, had made ease of the task of making her seem like a (relatively) much better option. Like millions of others, I awoke on Wednesday morning to a feeling that harked back to the morning of the 24th of June, when the Brexit results were announced. This dreaded feeling stemmed from the realisation that the crass fearmongering and scapegoating was working. The majority of the voting electorate were being convinced by the politics of fear.
I never bought the idea that “they’re all the same”; a Clinton presidency would have continued in Obama’s legacy of extra-judicial killings, infringements on civil liberties and murderously questionable foreign policy, particularly where the Middle East is concerned. However, it would also have been both qualitatively and quantitatively different, largely in a favourable way, to what is likely to unfold in the coming years of Trump. I would opt for Hilary’s using of the legacy of Muslim American soldiers over Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration or “extreme vetting” every day of the week.
More concerning than Trump’s bigotry is the fact that he has been elected by “the people”, who were aware of his xenophobic positions; in the best cases, they simply were not deterred by his bigotry, while in darker cases, they would have been voting for him in large part because of his xenophobia. CNN’s Van Jones described what had transpired as a “White-lash”, the act of a white majority, particularly the non-college educated, who felt like they were losing the country. The numbers support this claim with the vast majority of White voters having opted for Trump, while the vast majority of non-white voters did not.
Trump’s campaign slogan subtly evoked the racism of many of his other stated policies; “Make America Great Again”. When was America greater than it is now? The vast majority of minority citizens will tell you that for all of today’s institutional racism and continuing obstacles, the days of yore were much worse. This call for a return to days gone by was undoubtedly attuned for the ears of White voters, and it looks to have worked with great effect. That is not to say that every voter was voting along racial lines. A vote for Trump could be motivated by a wide range of factors; fiscal policy, party line, conservatism, the not-Hilary factor, the not-a-Clinton factor and so on. However, it would be shortsighted not to acknowledge that we are seeing a rise in a nationalist sentiment that is explicitly xenophobic across the Western world. The results of the Brexit vote in the UK brought with it a significant rise in hate crime across England. This election has been bruising for Muslim Americans who were never far from the mouths of the key actors involved; keep them in your prayers as they brace for a similar increase in hatred as a result of Trump’s election.
Spare A Moment
The most sobering (and as an Arab, self-interested) thought that has been playing on my mind began as I watched Trump making his initial victory speech; there he was, talking about working with the world, uniting the divisions in American and so on. For a second I almost fell into a sense of security, “maybe it won’t be so bad”, I told myself. But I caught myself mid thought and cast my mind back to 2000, and George W. Bush’s victory speech. I have no doubt that he said all the right things in that moment too. Yet comparing the Middle East from the day of Bush’s speech, to the day he left office in 2008, with Iraq and Afghanistan in flames, is a wake-up call. Bush’s administration played a massive role in planting the seeds for the chaos that has ensues in the Middle East today. I have no doubt that the changes in the Middle East that will occur on Trump’s watch, largely because of his administration’s policies, will be just as drastic and destructive as the changes that took place during Bush’s 8 years. I truly dread to think what state the region will be in when Trump is leaving office.
While the implications for the rest of the world will be huge, I believe this result will first and foremost impact on American citizens. Spare a thought for the thousands of undocumented labourers and their families, who effectively keep America running, that Trump has promised to catch and exile from the country. Or one of the millions of American Muslims who will face an even more hostile country, coloured even further by hateful Islamophobia. Or one of the millions of American’s who’ve benefited from Obamacare, something that the Republican president and congress (both Houses are now controlled by Republicans) will seek to destroy as a matter of priority. Or American parents who’ll have to explain to their daughters how is it that a man as misogynist as Trump can be elected by a majority of the voting public.
These are challenging times and we need to rise to the moment. The election of Trump should serve as yet another wake up call that we are losing the battle for hearts and minds. Yes, there are hugely powerful forces that are against us, largely in terms of political and media establishments, but this should only strengthen our resolve to become more effective, forward-thinking and dynamic. Most importantly, we need to remember our duty to love, and be present for, one another.