Trump’s trickle-down hate takes root lo­cally

The News-Times - - OPINION - By Tark Aouadi Tark Aouadi is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Con­necti­cut Chap­ter of the Coun­cil on American Is­lamic Re­la­tions, Amer­ica’s largest Mus­lim civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Hate may have found a home in New Haven on Sun­day when a fire burned through the first and sec­ond floor of the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven, ren­der­ing it un­in­hab­it­able. Au­thor­i­ties have said that an “in­cen­di­ary de­vice” was used to start the blaze, mean­ing some­one pur­pose­fully tried to burn the mosque down.

We do not know at this time if bias was the mo­tive, but here is what we do know.

This in­ci­dent hap­pened at the end of the first week of Ra­madan, a holy month of fast­ing for Mus­lims — a time of self-sac­ri­fice, char­ity and fam­ily gath­er­ings. For­tu­nately, only the imam was at the mosque at the time, but if the blaze had bro­ken out later that evening it is likely that dozens of peo­ple in­clud­ing small chil­dren would have been there for night­time prayers and breaking their fast. If re­ports re­gard­ing the scope of the fire are true, there would have been much more than prop­erty dam­age.

Is­lam­o­pho­bia has been a con­stant pres­ence in Mus­lim life in Amer­ica since 9/11. Nearly 20 years later, a gen­er­a­tion of Mus­lims have grown up ex­pe­ri­enc­ing bul­ly­ing in the school yard, dis­crim­i­na­tion at work and vi­o­lence rang­ing from women’s head-scarves be­ing pulled off in the street to deadly as­saults. How­ever, data gath­ered by the Coun­cil on American-Is­lamic Re­la­tions’ shows that co­in­cid­ing with the can­di­dacy of Don­ald Trump for pres­i­dent, in­ci­dents against mosques ratch­eted up­wards. There were 78 in­stances of mosques be­ing tar­geted — counting ar­son, van­dal­ism and other de­struc­tion — in 2015. By com­par­i­son, 2014 saw just 20 such in­ci­dents. By the end of 2017, CAIR recorded nine mosques be­ing at­tacked each month.

As the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Don­ald Trump pro­claimed loudly, “I think Is­lam hates us,” and said (falsely and re­peat­edly) that he saw Mus­lims in New Jer­sey cel­e­brat­ing the de­struc­tion of the Twin Tow­ers. Upon as­sum­ing of­fice, he en­acted through an Ex­ec­u­tive Order the “Mus­lim Ban” on im­mi­gra­tion. The fig leaf of na­tional se­cu­rity be­lied the fact that the seven coun­tries tar­geted were pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim and in 2015 had ac­counted for the largest sources of Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion to the United States. The mea­sure was clearly de­signed to re­duce Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion.

In his book “Un­der­stand­ing Eth­nic Vi­o­lence,” MIT pro­fes­sor Roger Peter­son points to a toxic brew of emo­tions — fear, rage and re­sent­ment — as mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors for in­di­vid­ual per­pe­tra­tors of eth­nic vi­o­lence. Ac­cord­ing to Peter­son’s theory, ob­serv­able struc­tural changes gen­er­ate an emo­tional mech­a­nism that in turn heighten the saliency of a de­sire (safety, vengeance, status) that pro­mote eth­nic vi­o­lence and con­flict.

U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in suc­ces­sive Gulf Wars, the in­ex­cus­able and hor­rific World Trade Cen­ter at­tacks, the war in Afghanista­n, and ISIS ter­ror­ism have col­lec­tively primed Amer­i­cans to fear Mus­lims. Whereas previous pres­i­dents dis­tin­guished mil­i­tants from or­di­nary Mus­lims, the Trumpian view places us all in one bas­ket, and his views co­in­cide with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­ser­tion that non-white un­de­sir­able im­mi­grants are in­vad­ing the coun­try. Un­der these con­di­tions, the de­sire for se­cu­rity is height­ened and a house of wor­ship with its tall minarets be­comes a vis­i­ble tar­get.

The un­leashed alt-right do­mes­tic ter­ror­ists who burn mosques also pose a threat to mem­bers of other re­li­gious mi­nori­ties. The sus­pect in last month’s shoot­ing at the Chabad of Poway syn­a­gogue, in which one per­son was killed and sev­eral peo­ple wounded, ad­mit­ted in his man­i­festo that he had set fire to a mosque in Es­con­dido, Calif. An­cient ha­treds and re­sent­ment of Jews , perceived as be­ing far­thest up the eth­nic status hi­er­ar­chy, re­sult in vi­o­lence and re­sult in the cries heard in Char­lottesvill­e of “Jews will not re­place us.”

Richard Spencer, a chief or­ga­nizer of that “Unite the Right” rally, ac­knowl­edged in an interview this week with the The At­lantic that Pres­i­dent Trump was the cat­a­lyst for the white na­tion­al­ist move­ment. “It re­ally was be­cause of his cam­paign and this new po­ten­tial for a na­tion­al­ist can­di­date who was res­onat­ing with the public in a very in­tense way,” said Spencer in an ar­ti­cle ti­tled “An Oral His­tory of Trump’s Big­otry.” “He changed the par­a­digm and made this kind of public pres­ence of the alt-right pos­si­ble.”

With the ap­par­ent in­fil­tra­tion of the Repub­li­can Party at the na­tional level by white su­prem­a­cists now seem­ingly com­plete, it is now up to GOP elected of­fi­cials and party ac­tivists in Con­necti­cut to vo­cally and pub­licly make clear whether they en­dorse Trump­ism and its pol­icy of trickle-down hate or if they re­ject it. As a Repub­li­can, I would hope that our party does in­deed speak out against the alt-right ide­ol­ogy and its xeno­pho­bic un­der­tones.

De­spite our fer­vent prayers for peace and un­der­stand­ing, the burn­ing of the mosque in New Haven will not likely be the last man­i­fes­ta­tion of vi­o­lence against Mus­lims liv­ing in Con­necti­cut.

I do not want to at­tend an­other vigil in sol­i­dar­ity with vic­tims of bias-mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence. Rather, I would like the var­i­ous groups that make up the fab­ric of this great state in­clud­ing our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to come to­gether in times of joy and cel­e­brate the hu­man­ity we all share in com­mon. For that to hap­pen we all de­serve to know the true be­liefs of the men and women who rep­re­sent us un­der the Repub­li­can Party’s ban­ner.

As the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Don­ald Trump pro­claimed loudly, “I think Is­lam hates us,” and said (falsely and re­peat­edly) that he saw Mus­lims in New Jer­sey cel­e­brat­ing the de­struc­tion of the Twin Tow­ers.

Ben Lam­bert / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Res­i­dents gath­ered Thursday at a vigil fol­low­ing a fire at the Diyanet Mosque of New Haven.

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