In this piece for The Guardian, I argue that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric gives attacks like those in Portland legitimacy. When the president pours fuel on the fire, where does it stop?
Jeremy Christian, an avowed white supremacist with a violent past, is the alleged killer of Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, but Donald Trump is not blameless for their deaths. The murder of these two heroic men and the near death of a third, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, happened last Friday in Portland, Oregon, when, according to numerous reports, Christian boarded an afternoon commuter train and began hurling anti-Muslim insults at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
A witness, Rachel Macy, told the Oregonian what happened next. She reported that the three men were attempting to form a barrier between Christian and the girls to protect the teenagers from Christian’s threats when Christian suddenly brandished a knife and slashed all three men in their necks. Blood was immediately everywhere. “It was just a swift, hard hit,” Macy said. “It was a nightmare.”
A nightmare, indeed. In fact, deadly violence due to what you wear on your head is the very specific nightmare of every Muslim woman who wears a hijab in the US today. Highly visible in a toxic Islamophobic environment, Muslim women in hijab endure all kinds of unconscionable abuse daily.
The FBI does not track hate crimes by gender, but research in the Netherlands and France offers some measure of the scale of the problem. There, studies show that Muslim women account for 90% and 81% of reported anti-Muslim incidents involving violence respectively. (In most cases, the Muslim woman was wearing a headscarf.) To the anti-Muslim bigots, a hijab is not a sign of piety. It’s a target.
Read the rest here.