The unthinkable happened. Donald Trump was elected against the odds. The man who suggested placing Muslim Americans in a database and proposed banning Muslims from entering the country will be the next president. And all Americans must live with it and bow to the democratic process.
There is no doubt that Trump has expressed bigoted, racist and misogynistic rhetoric on the road to the presidency. But he also tapped into some legitimate anger that Americans have against lack of economic opportunity and Washington's utter ineptness, highlighted by Congress' dismal approval ratings.
The president-elect has pursued a conciliatory tone since his perplexing victory on Tuesday. However, Trump cannot take back the words and proposals that have harmed the most vulnerable communities in this great nation. He has called undocumented immigrants rapists. He has blamed even legal immigrants for the country's financial hardship. He has promised to send back refugees. He has scapegoated Muslims and communities of colors.
These statements have emboldened dark forces in American society and empowered the White supremacist alt-right.
While Arab and Muslim communities must have faith in the U.S. Constitution and institutions, they must be prepared to stand their ground — not only against President Trump, but also against some of his supporters who have proved racist and vile.
Despite his dovish acceptance speech, Trump's cabinet boasts potential names of some of the most bigoted, extreme American politicians of the 21st century.
While the Obama Justice Department has modestly fought discrimination, the likely incoming attorney general, Rudy Giuliani, unconstitutionally started mass surveillance of New York City's Muslims when he was mayor. Newt Gingrich has said the Palestinian people are invented and proposed testing Muslims and deporting those who believe in Sharia law. He is poised to be secretary of state. Trump's likely chief of staff? Stephen Bannon of Breitbart, a go-to news website that’s a hub of racism, misogyny and conspiracy theories.
That's why backing civil rights organizations, building coalitions and maximizing political engagement are paramount for the well being and survival of the community over the next four years.
Pointing out Trump's glaring and dangerous flaws does not mean questioning his legal legitimacy. He did win the election. As the community should be ready to resist, it should also be ready to cooperate with a Trump administration in a framework that ensures civil liberties and Constitutional rights of all Americans. It is up to Trump to assure the nation of what he said in his victory speech — that he will be a president of all Americans.
We know that Arabs, Muslims, immigrants, Latinos and other communities are rightly anxious and disappointed. But fear will not increase safety or bring change. These groups should work together and do what it takes to make sure that the executive branch is held accountable.
We, too, are disheartened that our fellow Americans voted for such a candidate. We are also unsatisfied with the media that paved the way for Trump's infamy and the Democrats who failed to be a party of the people. The Democratic National Committee is directly responsible for the outcome of the election. Facing a demagogue who is claiming to be running against the system, the DNC favored Hillary Clinton in the primaries to hand her the nomination. The former secretary of state is in no doubt an accomplished politician, but her experience in Washington worked against her because she embodied the Washington elites loathed by the masses. Bernie Sanders could have soundly defeated Trump, but the Democratic Party never gave him a chance.
But hindsight — the would have, could have, should have logic —cannot ensure the safety and rights of all Americans.
Trump should revisit his rhetoric. We also call on Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to keep the president who had demonstrated lack of regard for the U.S. Constitution in check. We also urge law enforcement agencies across the country to ensure the protection of all citizens and work diligently to combat and prevent hate crimes.
One positive takeaway from this seemingly tragic election is that the Arab American community voted in large numbers, with the turnout exceeding 50 percent in some predominantly east Dearborn precincts, matching the national average.
The community should build on that momentum as we move forward.