First they came for the Muslims…
It takes something special to be classed amongst the most controversial pledges made by Donald Trump during his visceral election campaign. Trump’s call for a Muslim database had what it takes to make it into that exclusive grouping. The proposed database caused a stir among Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. The idea evokes strong reactions due its explicitly discriminatory nature, which requires targeting individuals based solely on their religion. When a similar registry was enforced under George W. Bush’s tenure, any constitutional issues were avoided by focusing on individuals from certain countries, rather than because of their religion. The program was called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a deceptively benign name for something so toxic. Examining the list of the 25 countries in question, you’ll quickly notice that all but one, North Korea, are Muslim majority countries. The list was basically comprised of the countries of the Arab world. Despite the evidence showing that terrorists in the U.S.A. are almost exclusively U.S. citizens, the talk of resuming Bush’s registry (which was eventually discontinued) is not dying down.
Despite the worrying signs that are developing around us, there is a lot of hope to be drawn from how people are responding to the changing climate. People are heeding the warning of Martin Niemöller, the anti-Hitler Protestant Pastor who spent years in Nazi concentration camps for speaking truth to power, famous for his thought provoking parable, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Socialist…”.
Powerful voices are emerging
The American Civil Liberties Union, the non-profit organisation committed to protecting individual rights and liberties in the U.S., has released unambiguously supportive statements that have included the line, “If the Trump administration proceeds to discriminate against our Muslim neighbors, families, and friends, we will sue.”
New York City’s Mayor Bill De Blasio also weighed in on the matter in a speech recently in which he expressed direct opposition to the concept and its implementation: “Here’s my promise to you as your mayor; we will use all the tools at our disposal to stand up for our people. If all Muslims are required to register, we will take legal action to block it…if Jews or Muslims or members of the LGBT community, or any community are victimized or attacked, we will find their attackers, we will arrest them, we will prosecute them.”
The C.E.O. of the Anti-Defamation League (the ADL), a group determined to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, which has clashed with Arab and Muslim groups over Israeli-Palestinian affairs regularly, joined the chorus of those who have stated that they will also register as Muslims if the registry is brought about. Jonathan Greenblat said, “No one has an excuse for excusing intolerance. We must stand with our fellow Americans who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, who they love or how they pray.”
Oscar-winning movie director Michael Moore is another famous face to have committed to joining the registry. He is the force behind the hashtag #WeAreAllMuslims and is asking the public to sign his statement addressed to Donald Trump, that includes the following paragraph: “We are all Muslim. Just as we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between. We are all children of God (or nature or whatever you believe in), part of the human family, and nothing you say or do can change that fact one iota. If you don’t like living by these American rules, then you need to go to the time-out room in any one of your Towers, sit there, and think about what you’ve said.”
Many have joined the hashtag “I Will Register” to add their voices in support of Muslims, and civil liberties as a whole, in this delicate time:
My great grandparents died in the Camps, branded and hated as Jews. #IWillRegister to honor them if this Muslim Registry comes to pass
— Olivier Suritz (@lordeagle) November 18, 2016
You can be angry with trump's america. But you can't stop to love the Great America standing by side with Muslims #IWillRegister
— Fida Khan (@Engr_Salaar) November 17, 2016
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" #iwillregister
— Henry Youngblood (@ApologeticUSofA) November 16, 2016