FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Veterans Challenge Trump’s Islamophobia

by

The U.S. president, Donald Trump, revealed his inner nature again earlier this week when he retweeted a series of anti-Muslim propaganda videos from the deputy leader of an ultranationalist, neo-fascist hate group in the UK. Trump sank to a new low in terms of the blatant falsehoods and myths he will invoke and propagate to incite enmity against Muslims. He has demonstrated repeatedly that white nationalism and the demonization of Islam is something that he wholeheartedly embraces and intends to advance at every opportunity. The encouraging news is that Trump’s fear and hate mongering against Islam and Muslims is increasingly being denounced by a wider spectrum of individuals and groups, including many staunch conservatives, both in the U.S. and abroad. The ground swell of resistance is steadily growing.

 

Generations of immigrants have molded the U.S. into the most pluralistic, multi-cultural country in the world. The nation prides itself on this distinction. Most of its citizens and residents uphold the tenets of freedom of religion, tolerance and diversity and apply the Golden Rule principle in their daily lives. Tragically, however, there are those in our society, like Donald Trump and many on the far-right, who hold deep contempt for Islam, maliciously distorting the teachings and traditions of the faith to foment irrational fear among the public. Oftentimes, they dehumanize Muslims for the purposes of advancing an anti-immigrant, jingoistic agenda. Hate crimes have been an outcome, and increased substantially in the months following the 9/11 attacks. While this violence decreased and leveled off in most years since 9/11 (though remained higher than in the pre-9/11 era), the number of crimes rose back to 9/11-era levels during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The international anti-war organization Veterans For Peace (VFP), which has been exposing the true costs of war and militarism since 1985, launched a campaign last year called Veterans Challenge Islamophobia (VCI). The campaign aims to build support and solidarity among veterans and allies to stop anti-Muslim rhetoric and the discrimination, marginalization and oppression of Muslims Americans, as well as Muslims abroad, especially asylum-seekers and refugees. The campaign also educates on why war — most notably the so-called “War on Terror” — is fundamentally rooted in racism and xenophobia. The campaign mission statement begins, “We are United States military veterans, many of whom saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, who are appalled by the current spate of bigotry, racism and hatred expressed toward Muslims.” It goes on to say that, “Fear-mongering endangers our national security and gives rise to hatred and racism that play into the hands of an enemy…We can never defend ourselves effectively by playing into our adversary’s strategy, giving credibility to their recruitment propaganda. We endanger ourselves whenever we make that mistake…” The statement concludes with an appeal to all veterans in the U.S. “to let their voices be heard and to stand up for the values of tolerance, respect and love.”

In addition, the VCI campaign seeks to end the discriminatory, unconstitutional and inhumane Muslim travel bans issued by the Trump administration earlier this year. To enhance the effectiveness of this aspect of the campaign, VFP partnered with various peace and human rights groups working to stop the bans, such as the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign, which was organized and led by several groups, including the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and MPower Change.

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, the VCI campaign released a statement that included the following language: “…Throughout this past year we have called upon Mr. Trump to abandon his divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric. He has done more to legitimize bigotry and create division than arguably any one person has done in the United States in decades…As people of conscience, we must step up our support for marginalized, discriminated, and disenfranchised communities.” The campaign conveyed its “…sincere hope that as Mr. Trump nears his inauguration, he embraces the oath of the Presidency and the sacred tenets of equality to which we as a nation aspire…Mr. Trump will be taking an oath to lead three-hundred million U.S. Americans, of every race, ethnicity, and creed. The eyes of the world are upon him, as is the sacrosanct responsibility and history of the Presidency of these United States.” However, as we have learned over the 11-months since his inauguration, Trump has not only doubled-down on his hate speech but intensified it and translated his xenophobia into policy.

Following Election Day, VFP issued a call to action to resist the hate-filled ideologies and policies of Donald Trump, saying in part, “On the domestic front, we know President-elect Trump provides great momentum to many of the most repressive and dark social tendencies our nation has struggled to discard. Trump’s campaign ran on the toxic energy of hate. It began with calling Mexicans criminals and rapists. It revved up by calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States and it completed its triangle of xenophobia and misogyny by defending sexual assault. The Trump campaign has put on a facade of reaching out to the Black community, however his words make it clear that he is hostile to people of color…His hostility is clear enough to White supremacists that many endorsed him as their candidate…The peace movement must stand strong against policies that call for more violence and war. We must resist all forms of hate and xenophobia. We must stand in solidarity with domestic struggles that move forward women’s rights, immigration reform and all forms of racial, economic and social justice. With our allies across all struggles, we must build a full spectrum movement to create peace at home and abroad…” This critical work for peace and justice must continue at all levels. Peace at home is unattainable until peace abroad is realized, and vice versa. Peace is possible when justice prevails.

It is incumbent upon all Americans to condemn and confront hate, counter Islamophobia, and peaceably struggle to block and end attempts by members of our society to induce and incite religious and racial animosity. Commit to speaking out against anti-Muslim propaganda and other forms prejudice, racism and hatred. Stand against anyone who threatens the human dignity and safety of our Muslim neighbors, who, like all fellow human beings, deserve to be treated with respect and love. Hate is the enemy, not Islam.

 

More articles by:

Brian J. Trautman is an instructor of peace studies at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA, a peace activist with Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice, and an Army veteran. He is also a member of Veterans for Peace. On Twitter @BriTraut.

February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail