Op-EdOpinionUncategorized

MUHAMMAD: Racism, America’s Original Terror

Donald Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump. He’s a Republican presidential candidate. But he’s much more than that.

He’s a demagogue, that is, he has gained power and popularity by arousing the passions and the prejudices of a small quorum of the Republican voter base — older, White, mostly males, who never attended college and who don’t attend church regularly.

He lies. He exaggerates and embellishes the truth to frighten those old codgers, and they swallow it hook, line, and sinker, even when he’s proven wrong.

What’s worse, though, is he’s not alone. The two or three next most popular GOP candidates are provocateurs and jingoists too, and together they have aroused the ignorant xenophobia in White America, constituting a majority of the Republican base.

Mexican immigrants, women, Black folks, who’ve all been slandered by The Donald, all love him and will be strong supporters of his come Election Day if you let him tell it. Now, terrorism and the billions of Muslims around the world are deserving of exclusion from this country and internment (concentration) camps for the 6 million already here.

What I’ve got to say may or may not be much comfort, considering the size of my platform compared to his: Forget about Donald Trump.

First, I understand that the incidents in San Bernardino and Paris, and others like them were terrorist attacks and should be condemned. I condemn them.

And as far as Da’esh, or ISIL, or ISIS, or the so-called Islamic State is concerned, it is not at all Islamic, nor are the al Nusra Front, al Qaeda, or Boko Haram. The sacred Islamic scripture — the Holy Quran — condemns, in no uncertain terms, their bloody behavior. Sura 5, Ayat 32: “If anyone murders an innocent person, it will be as if he has murdered the whole of humanity. And if anyone saves a person it will be as if he has saved the whole of humanity.” That’s Islamic truth!

And just as I shudder, along with millions of others around the globe, at grisly modern beheadings by these Internet terrorists, I have also seen in my lifetime the murder of Emmett Till, whose killers were acquitted after a two-hour Mississippi trial, only to confess in a national interview two weeks later, knowing they could not be tried again … and Trayvon Martin, and Oscar Grant, and Tamir Rice, and Ahmadou Diallo. That bloody list goes on and on, and on and on.

And these are some of the victims we’ve heard about. Fifty years ago, when Mississippi authorities were searching for civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner, who disappeared in Neshoba County, they found the bodies of a dozen more anonymous Black victims at the bottoms of lakes and rivers. There were no flower or teddy bear memorials. There was little moral outrage. There were few condemnations from White Christian clergy, just unmarked graves.

And that was 113 years after Frederick Douglass articulated the innocent pain and the frustration of Black folks in his address, “What to the slave is your Fourth of July?”

“I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”

“…a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages,” Mr. Trump, Dr. Carson, Senator Cruz. Terrorism indeed.

In 1852 in Rochester, New York, Douglass said: “… I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them.” Now, it is White Americans who are wailing.

Yes, we see your pain, the hurt on your faces, the sheer terror as you wonder, where, when will the terror strike next? But realize now Americans, now Parisians, now descendants of conquerors whose imperial strides across Africa, and Asia, Australia, and Latin America, realize now that the subjugation, the extermination of many of those people made you rich and your lives comfortable; now my ancestor Frederick Douglass, now my Mississippi, my Tuskegee experiment, now the smallpox blankets you gave the Indians, now the lynching, police murders, now my pain is out in the open for all to see and feel, because now you too are suffering.

The terrorism now, Americans, is everywhere.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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