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COLUMN: I’m an American, too

R. Maruf

R. Maruf

Ramishah Maruf, Editor-in-Chief

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I understood why many voted for Donald Trump. Journalism has introduced me to a scope of different types of people, and their experiences, upbringings and socioeconomic statuses that led them to vote for perhaps the most controversial presidential candidate in American history.

However, one thing I didn’t understand were the childhood friends who blatantly supported the Trump administration’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

These friends grew up with me. They’ve been to my home for Saturday night dinners, playdates and group projects. They’ve devoured my mom’s famous samosas and chutney, laughed as my dad got a little bit too passionate during the Pakistani National Team’s cricket games, played Mario Kart with my brother. Some have even broken fast with my family during Ramadan.

I had always assumed those supporting Trump and his racist, alienating plans never had the opportunity to interact with Muslims. I was wrong. I couldn’t even convince the ones closest to me that we were just as American as the white family next door.

I can use countless facts and logic to tell you how twisted Trump’s immigration ban is. President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which banned discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin over fifty years ago. The fact that more Americans died from lawnmowers and armed toddlers, according to the 2014 CDC fatal injury report, than Islamic Jihadist immigrants. How no Syrian immigrant has ever killed an American citizen, but an unnamable number of American-born citizens (Dylann Roof and Adam Lanza, just to name a few) have committed some of our country’s most atrocious acts of violence against their own people.

But the millions of Muslims affected by Trump’s policies are not just numbers – they are human beings just like you.

When Trump first suggested banning all Muslims from entering the country, I turned to my dad in disbelief and told him he should have immigrated to Canada or England instead of America. I expected him to nod in agreement, in the stoic manner he usually does, but instead he said this:

“America is the greatest country in the world. No other place compares. You can go anywhere else, but they will not give you the opportunities America gives you.”

And in those three sentences, I realized something.

Donald Trump is not an American. He does not love this country like the millions of immigrants living here do. My dad, who came here with $500 in the 1980’s and worked his way up to owning his business, is an American. My mom, who moved to Florida as a newlywed in a foreign country with no family or friends, is an American. My brother and I, who grew up attending Fourth of July pool parties right before religious school at our mosque, are Americans. True Americans realize the intent of this country set forth by our most celebrated leaders. We are meant to be a beacon of light in a dark world, to be defenders of the oppressed and stand up for those who have been wronged.

I will always be proud to be an American. I am proud of the values set forth by our founding fathers. I am proud of the perseverance of the American people, how time and time again we have valiantly withstood the obstacles thrown at us. I am proud to live in a country where I can openly voice and publish my opinion. I believe the greatest way to pronounce your love to your country is by acknowledging its faults, and working towards solving them in order to make your country an inclusive community for everyone – not just those who look and think like you.

I love my country with every fiber of my being. I can’t imagine being anything but an American, regardless of what others may think of my religion, skin tone or ethnicity. I just hope that one day my country can learn to love me too.

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COLUMN: I’m an American, too