I am a Jew. But starting today, in the eyes of the Trump Administration, I want to be seen as a Muslim.
There are too many people inside the Trump transition team talking about registering Muslims or even interning them in camps – so starting today, I am wearing a yellow Islamic crescent and star on my jacket, and urging all Americans to do the same, until this racist nonsense is banished from our public discourse.
There have been too many attacks on Muslims already, too many immigrant children coming home from school crying because a bully told them they’ll be deported after Jan. 20, too many Trump supporters not seeing that there’s a vast chasm between Islam and terrorism committed in the name of a perverted version of Islam.
As a Jew, I am particularly sensitive to efforts by government to divide us along ethnic or racial lines. The Germans did that in the 1930s with disastrous results. We did it to Japanese-Americans during World War II, which remains a stain on our national conscience. And the Trump campaign certainly did it during the election season with heightened rhetoric.
Matthew Dallek: Japanese internment vs. a Muslim registry
Indeed, Trump’s military adviser Gen. Michael Flynn tweeted earlier this year that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” (Flynn has been appointed to the cabinet, but it’s unclear if that rhetoric got him the job.)
Of course, when the Nazis infamously made Jews wear yellow stars in German-occupied territories, thousands of righteous Gentiles stood up to Hitler by protecting Jews. There’s a legend that King Christian of Denmark wore a yellow star in solidarity with Jews. OK, that story isn’t true, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired by it.
In that spirit, it is time for all of us to stand up to those who would oppress Muslim-Americans. That’s why on Friday morning, I went to a craft store near my Brooklyn home, bought some yellow felt, and crafted an Islamic crescent and star, modeled after the “Jude” stars of the Nazi era. It’s not perfect, but it makes the Gandhian point, “I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew – and so are all of you.”
It’s unclear whether President Trump will follow through on campaign trail chatter about requiring Muslims to register with the government. But this week, one of his advisers told Reuters about an internal debate within the Trump transition team about a proposal for a national registry of immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries. A day later, a key Trump surrogate spoke glowingly of internment camps.
Trump supporter likens Muslim registry to WWII internment camps
“We did it during World War II with the Japanese,” said Carl Higbie, who, until this week, was the spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC.
He didn’t back down from the legality of the idea when challenged by host Megyn Kelly.
“I’m not proposing that at all,” Higbie said. “But I’m just saying there is precedent for it.”
There’s also precedent for killing millions of Native Americans and dumping PCBs into the Hudson River, but that doesn’t mean anyone should be talking so calmly about bringing either back.
Takei: Muslim registry open ‘wounds’ of Japanese internment camps
I am not prejudging President-elect Trump. He may disavow the overheated language that is designed to divide us and make us look upon our Muslim neighbors in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn or Dearborn, Mich. with suspicion.
Well, starting today, if Americans do indeed look askance at their Muslim countrymen and women, they can start looking askance at me, too.
Sure, I know what the great Arlo Guthrie once sang in “Alice’s Restaurant” that “If one person does (something) … they may think he’s really sick.” But in the same epic song, he went on to say, that if 50 people do something, “they may think it’s a movement.”
And that’s what this is. So get to a craft store (not Hobby Lobby, though!) and make yourself a yellow crescent. Maybe we can end this Trumpian madness before someone in the U.S. government starts issuing real ones.
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