Trump and the Resurgence of Everyday White Aggression

Since the election of Donald Trump much has been given to the topic of racism, and especially white supremacy, and its malfeasance in the public’s eye, or shall I say, the media’s eye. And while undoubtedly there has been an uptick in such occurrences what is being misconveyed is the important fact, historically as well as present day, that white aggression in the United States has been far more than a few bad apples. For many non-whites, especially so-called African-Americans. white aggression was as ubiquitous as it was vernacular, meaning that white hostilities directed towards blacks was not simply a privilege some white elites enjoyed inflicting on blacks but in fact, its apparently one of the few joys poor whites could enjoy. It would appear that the 2016 election has breathed new life into this phenomena and re-authorized that contingency of white America to again openly and unapologetically flex its muscles. Yesterday, at 1:00pm, I had my own personal encounter with it. Continue reading “Trump and the Resurgence of Everyday White Aggression”

Muslim Elected Officials

The following is a short video expanding some thoughts on my Twitter post about Rashida Tlaib’s “impeach the MF”.

Remembering Sat-Chan – Sadako Sasaki’s 75th Birthday and How Little the World Has Changed

وَإِذَا المَوءودَةُ سُئِلَت

بِأَيِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَت

“And when the baby girl buried alive is asked: ‘for what crime she was killed’?” —
Qur’an 81: 8-9

Her name was Sadako “Sat-chan” Sasaki (佐々木 “さtちゃん” 禎子). She was born January 7th, 1943. She would have been seventy five years old today — if she hadn’t had a bomb dropped on her. And while there is plenty of blame to go around as to who’s fault the war was, nonetheless an innocent life was lost. Sasaki was two years old when the bomb dropped hardly more than a mile from her house in Hiroshima. She became part of that group known as hibakusha: “bombed person” (被爆者). And while the militaries of the world attempt to legitimize this or that conflict; this or that incursion, can we truthfully give a justifiable answer as to “why was this girl killed?”

It is now 2018 and still the world — or better yet, the men of the world — has not learned its lesson. Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump play at words that would deliver frightening consequences: the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would seem almost a mere firecracker to the nuclear power now at our disposal. Like the ancient Arabs of the Hijaz, who were consummed by their anger and their need for revenge, we stand at another abyss and it gazes back at us, asking: “will you change or will you destroy yourself?”

The sun set on Sasaki and as the title of the above Surah suggests, it will also set on us yet what will be our answer? Will we learn or will we burn?

Muslims in America – What Comes After Resistance?

The American Muslim community is currently embroiled in a struggle against the injustices being perpetrated by the Trump administration. As to whether these actions are truly injust or simply a matter of selective outrage, fueled by a model minority narrative, remains to be seen. But one question which hovers over American Muslims is what is their fate, post-resistance?

In reading Daniel L. Fountain’s Slavery, Civil War and Salvation: African American Slaves and Christianity 1830-1870, one is inspired to, drawing upon the religious history of black folks in America, ask the question: will American Muslims adopt the world-views, mores, and religion[s] of their “masters”? By this I mean to compare the history of African Americans and their conversion to Christianity to American Muslims and their future conversion to liberalism, secularism, and scientific atheism. In order to make this inquiry clear we must look at why and how Africans and their progeny converted to Christianity.

Anecdotal historical accounts of African religious life in antebellum America feeds us a narrative in which African slaves and their progeny converted to Christianity during their tenure as slaves. From this perspective we are left with the assumption that Christianity played a major role in the lives of slaves. However, recent scholarship gives a more convincing insight into the reality that Christianity did not come to play a significant role in the majority of African American lives until after emancipation. According to Fountain (amongst others),

“more than 60 percent of the slaves surveyed indicated that they were not Christians while enslaved (emphasis mine)1.”

My point being here is to challenge the notion that Christianity was a form of slave resistance. Instead, I argue that, since Christianity did not gain significant ground amongst African Americans until post-emancipation, it was more a means of assimilation than resistance. Fountain quotes nineteenth century physician and all around social agitator, Thomas Low Nichol, as saying,

“[t]he Southern people are eminently religious, and their negroes follow their example (emphasis mine)2.”

Whereas in the nineteenth century, the religion of America — and those who stood in position to impart “freedom” to slaves — was Christianity, the religions of America today are increasingly liberalism, secularism, and scientific atheism, and thus, my concern is, will American Muslims embrace the religions of those who stand ready yet again to impart “freedom” to American Muslims? While some have balked at the heavy-handed tone in a recent article penned to American Muslim activists, I am equally concerned about the temptation for American Muslims to go down the same road as their previous American brethren did. In fact, as Fountain argues, it was,

“the expectation and delivery of freedom [being] the leading factor for African American conversion to Christianity3.”

The question remains: have the descendants of African slaves gained freedom and have their expectations been met? Many would argue that true freedom, the ability for self-determination, has not arrived yet. And likewise, in light of liberalism, secularism, and scientific atheism (what I will term here as scientism), can these philosophies fulfill their promises to American Muslims4? For it is precisely the same gambit, the same offer, and the same temptation, I see American Muslims engaged in both in terms of embracing liberalism and the like, but also in an articulation of Islam that is pitched as resistance, and nothing more. If, quoting Fountain again, “under slavery, Christianity … did not meet most slaves’ needs … most did not convert”5 then what of an Islam that does not meet Muslims needs, particularly as Americans? It is here I believe most of the hard work needs to be done and thus should be the primary focus of scholars, for it is also the reason why so many Muslims, particularly the youth, look for truth-claims (even false ones) elsewhere6.

Resources 

1. Fountain, Daniel L. Slavery, Civil War and Salvation: African American Slaves and Christianity 1830-1870. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. Pg. ix.

2. Ibid., 7.

3. Ibid., 5.

4. Jay Tolson, in the Fall 2016 edition of The Hedgehog Review, writes, “scientists began to wonder uneasily about whether scientific progress was compatible with scientific truth”. Tolson, Jay. “From the Editor”. The Hedgehog Review. http://iasc-culture.org/THR/index.php.

5. Fountain, 5.

6. Manley, Marc. “Between Political Theories and Truth-Claims: American Muslims and Liberalism”. Marc Manley – Imam At Large. www.marcmanley.com, 21 Jan. 2017.