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Pick Your Poison: An Election Full Of Islamophobia

This has been one of the most controversial elections in the history of the United States. As we progress and attempt to define ourselves as a nation groups have come out to have their voices heard, they want to be sure that they are a part in whatever conversations this nation intends to have. One voice that is rarely accounted for is the American Muslim. Muslims are seen as such a minority to the west although the religion itself holds members of every race all over the world. Think about this, how often do you see a Muslim character in a book or TV show who isn’t stereotyped? I’ll wait. I don’t often hear of Muslims in history classes, which is odd because we have figures like Malcolm X who made history in the past and people like Malala Yousafzai making history now. I had to educate myself on the difference between a Muslim and an Arab because I had been taught that those nouns are synonyms. America which is a predominantly Christian country has faced backlash from the Muslim community for not condemning “Islamophobia”.

So what is Islamophobia you ask? The term “Islamophobia” originates as a concept in a 1991 Runnymede Trust Report and is defined as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.” Have you noticed Islamophobic comments or perspectives in your household or community? It wouldn’t be surprising. According to a YouGov poll 55% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Islam, I looked into the poll and most of the voters where 45 and older white males. But this doesn’t mean we as a nation don’t fail to normalize or accept Muslims. We fail terribly. And a good example of this is in the presidential election, now I know what you’re thinking the next whatsoever paragraphs are going to simply bash Trump because he’s been named a racist but not necessarily see we have accepted Islamophobia as a nation and this is why both parties have shown terrifying proof of Islamophobia.

I spoke to three young people a democrat, republican and member of the third libertarian party and all three felt that yes there is an issue with Islamophobia (to some extent) and it is noticeable in the election. This is odd. If we as a generation think this is a problem across all boards why haven’t we done anything about it?

Hillary Clinton is to some a hero, to others a lying snake and to the Muslim community she has been seen as an oppressor who is simply using the Muslim community as a stepping stool. Yes, Hillary Clinton has spoken up on Islamophobic comments made, but she only calls out her opponent Donald Trump. A member of her own campaign Welseley Clark has made Islamophobic comments that one could argue are worse than Trump. Clark has openly pitched the segregation of Muslims and to place them in internment plants. Which if you aren’t familiar are similar to Nazi concentration camps where the US used to hold Japanese people during World War Two. Muslims have faced a rise in hate crimes since recent events including the Orlando shooting and generalizations of all Muslims as terrorists are problematic and can lead to this.

When the Muslim community reached out to Hillary Clinton who claims to want to speak for all the people, they were ignored. Condemning one person for Islamophobia does not make you a spokesperson for Muslims. When Clinton assumed the role of secretary of state, she pushed for actions that would be hurtful to Muslims in general not simply terrorists.

Even some of her supporters admit she isn’t perfect but feel the need to vote for her because in their opinion Donald Trump is so much worse. It’s a game of “Pick your poison” I guess. Rosmely Perez (17) made these statements in an interview with me “For lack of a better reason, I support Hillary Clinton because she isn’t Trump. I know third party candidates exist but none call my favor. America does have an issue with Islamophobia. I once saw an interview of a woman say they support freedom of religion but when asked about Islam there is very little support. What is the irony? The audacity to promote freedom of religion, then advocate the hate of another. In the elections, I believe trump has been more Islamophobia then Hillary. He has several times blamed the religion for the crimes of the small percentage of extremists. That is wrong on so many levels, seeing as radical Islamite’s don’t adhere to the rules of the Qur’an.” Rosmely stated that trump is more Islamophobic than Hillary but never stated that Hillary was innocent on the matter, interesting.

Trump…oh trump. I’ll make this one quick because he is very open on his feeling towards “Mexicans” and “Muslims” calling for the ban and deportation of both groups. Here is my interview with Kendra Wilbanks a republican and Trump supporter (18). “I do keep up with the election more or less, I mostly listen to discussions and articles on CNN, FOX and NPR. I am a trump supporter because I can relate to him especially his stance on immigration. I am all for legal immigration but illegal immigration is wrong and takes away opportunities from newly legal immigrants trying to build a life. Yes we have an issue of Islamophobia. Mostly due to the War on Terror because everyone needs someone to point at, and in this case it’s Muslims. This has led to a stigma against Muslims. Hillary dodges Islamophobia but does not condemn it and trump is extremely open on his Islamophobia which in my opinion is a political strategy, he is instilling fear in Americans and making promises to remove those fears so it’s more likely people will vote for him.”

My final interview was with senior John Gonzalez a libertarian who finds both candidates unworthy of running the country. He believes the libertarian party is more for the people than the other two groups and for that reason he supports them. John also acknowledged Trumps infamous Islamophobia comments. The reason I wrote this article is because I felt that people needed to see both sides of this election, just because one candidate speaks against something does not mean their actions do as well. I am saddened by the fact that we live in 2016 and our generation finds faults in these candidates that shouldn’t be there, it is a wonderful fact that we are so aware. Trumps ideals are extremely similar to early Adolph Hitler, they both marginalize more than one group of people and openly label them as inferior (for trump this is blacks, Mexicans and Muslims and Hitler it was the handicapped, Jews and communists) they also both achieve goals by instilling fear in others. Hillary Clinton is no angel either and a lot of people argue she uses Muslims, blacks and women as a stepping stool while her actions are detrimental to the groups. Are we really in the place as a nation that we have to pick our poison? Surely we as a generation will educate ourselves and make sure any politician earned their role and can walk the walk while talking the talk.

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Phanesia Pharel
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Phanesia Pharel is an award winning playwright, poetess, and theatrical soul. She likes to write pieces for Affinity because 99% of all woman's media is irrelevant to the everyday woman. She contemplates how to free Palestine and destroy rape culture in her free time.

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