While in Las Vegas for my wedding anniversary recently, I had and experience that truly disturbed and profoundly impacted me. I met a 42 year old Iranian immigrant cab driver named Amir. He came to the U.S. when he was 16. I can assure you that Amir was as American as any of us. He spoke like we do, albeit with a thicker accent, but then again being from California I’ve been told I have an accent myself, though I don’t hear it. This idiotic notion that many on the right want to push, that Islam is a “political ideology” — which I’ll get to in just a moment because it’s particularly hilarious hearing American Christians chastise Islam as being “political” — and that Muslim immigrants don’t want to assimilate is just xenophobia and Islamaphobia, and Amir proved it. He is an American, full stop.
I took the front seat of the cab. I have this habit of wanting to put cab or Uber drivers at ease by asking them a ton of questions about themselves. I figure they must get so sick of asking about other people night after night, ride after ride. Whenever I can tell they’re from somewhere outside of the country, I’m always fascinated by their stories, because at its core, America is and always will be a nation of immigrants. This is what is so troubling about the right turn we’ve done in this country to be so nativist in nature.
The first people to put their feet on the soil of this continent weren’t white Europeans, so the overwhelming majority of us came here by way of an immigrant taking the chance on a new life on a new continent. The desire for many in this country to shut our doors and extinguish the State of Liberty’s beacon is tragically shortsighted and given their faux-patriotism, it’s more than just a bit tragic in its irony.
Amir told me that since Trump’s election he has grown increasingly more afraid for his safety He flat-out told us he has to be very careful with Trump voter passengers because they are very angry and say horrible things about Muslims. He confirmed that what we’ve seen in a few viral videos about the entitled, angry nature of Trump supporters saying horrible things and then backing it up with, “Well, I voted for Trump, so what do you have to say about it?” is very real.
It’s odd hearing someone who is as American as you or me describe to you how other Americans treat him because they assume he’s not American. Amir told me he believes that a lot of them are angry and feel entitled to their anger, and he’s said he’s learned already, before Trump is even president officially, to be careful and guarded with his own views on the man. Already, Amir’s First Amendment rights are being threatened because he literally feels his safety threatened by certain Trump supporters when he’s picking them up in his cab.
What’s really galling though, is that so many Americans’ resistance to allow in refugees from countries like Syria is built on Islamaphobia, and that their Islamaphobia is laughably ignorant of their own actions. They tell us that Muslim people practice a “political ideology” but yet they have no problems with political people using their own religion in this country to justify legislation. They blanch at being compared to the Taliban, but their actions belie a far greater connection to those religious extremists than they’d care to admit.
How many good, clean, Christian American Patriots™ have you seen demand that their religious liberty to discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans be respected? How many times have we been told to “just buy the cake somewhere else” by conservatives. They may correctly point out that they aren’t throwing gay and transgender people off a building, but that’s not really the point. We shouldn’t be bragging that we only oppress people here, we don’t oppress and kill them.
Abortion laws are another clear case of Christians in this country turning their religion into a political ideology. I grew up in a very religious and conservative home and in my early teen years I was taken to a “Promise Keepers” convention where at the tender age of 13 I was given an hour-long lecture on the evils of abortion. I was told in that same talk how important it would be for me to grow up into a good, Christian soldier so I could help force the Supreme Court into a conservative-leaning direction and Roe v. Wade could be overturned.
That was more than 20 years ago. Nothing has changed. So you tell me that Islam is a political ideology? Cool. I’ll fling that shit right back in your sanctimonious, cross-bearing face, asshole.
I can’t speak for everyone, but the reason I am so personally committed to being Trump’s resistance force is people like Amir. It’s my fellow Americans, who are now forced to live under constant fear of retribution for a crime they didn’t commit. It’s my LGBTQ+ friends who are now genuinely worried if they live in a red state that they’ll lose their hard-fought legal protections for them and their spouse. It’s the same for Muslim Americans.
I happen to have a good number of Muslims in my extended family. They’re on the whole wonderful people with the same awesome-to-asshole ratio you’d expect from any group of human beings. If this unconstitutional and dangerous notion of a Muslim registry sees the light of day, I’ll be the first lily-white asshole to put his hand up and sign on the dotted line. I will not let assholes ruin my country in the name of “national security.” American bigotry is American bigotry, no matter whether it’s African slaves, Chinese or Irish immigrants, and even, yes, Muslims.
If conservatives think progressives are going to be bullied, they truly have no fucking clue how much resolve people fighting for equality have. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for a bit I think, but I’m really sad that people like Amir, my cabbie that night, are literally living in fear over what the Asshole In Chief is riling up among his stormtroopers.
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.