In The Guardian, I argue that while Trump will court other voters, he ignores Muslim Americans completely.
The 2016 American presidential election has been an absurd, exhausting and bruising spectacle. Now imagine living through it all as a Muslim American. Somehow, this election has managed to cram all the Islamophobic sentiments of the last 15 years into the span of 15 months, and then morph them into one ugly thing.
Donald Trump is largely to blame. He called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the country until it became clear that the proposal was embarrassingly ill-conceived, only to be replaced by the equally vague “extreme vetting”. He fought publicly with the Gold Star Khan family, suggesting Ghazala Khan was not “allowed to speak” at the Democratic convention because of her Muslim faith. He accused Muslim Americans as a group of harboring terrorists. There’s more, but we all know the story by now.
Trump has insulted and defamed many different groups along the way, but what we may not realize is how it’s different when it comes to Muslims. Over the course of the campaign, Trump has very publicly reached out to Latino, African American and LGBTQ voters to ask for their support. We can question his sincerity, but the gestures are there. He even briefly tempered his tone regarding Mexicans during a quickly arranged visit to President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City last August.
His daughter Ivanka and wife Melania have defended him for his unforgivable behavior toward women, and Ivanka also recorded an official campaign television advertisement openly courting women voters for her father. Trump denies the charge he mocked a disabled reporter, and despite a bevy of antisemitic incidents involving Trump and his supporters over the past months, he has also directly sought Jewish American support. Such is his style of leadership: he may insult you, but he still wants your vote.
Not so with the Muslims. A tiny handful of Muslim Americans may, bizarrely, be Trump supporters, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that, while attempting to engage every other constituency, Trump’s campaign has made essentially zero public outreach to the Muslim electorate. It’s as if Muslim citizens already don’t exist in Trump’s America.
Read the rest here.