Emma Cooper Michigan

Islamaphobia: One of Many Problems

At the root of our country lies a distorted idea of freedom, in which only certain people are guaranteed rights based on whatever characteristics our leaders and media deem fit. Sadly, this is only one of many things wrong with the way America is run, but a single letter is not long enough to address all of these issues, so I will only focus on one.

To the next President of the United States of America,

Look. I know social issues are hard on politicians. You need your funding, you need your votes, so you have to get on that majority side. I get it. You are too weak to look past your own hunger for power to see that a lot of the time, you’re just wrong. You can say whatever you want, ultimately, and maybe you’ll get the racists’ votes or the top 1 percent’s funding, but in the end, factions will be factions and lobbyists will be lobbyists.

Not everyone is going to agree with you.

Because of this, I’m not about to demand anything. That’s unreasonable. Whichever way this election ends, you are unreasonable and the last opinion you care about is that of a broke minor.

Nonetheless, you have two responsibilities. Above everything else, as President, your job is to protect your people (and that means all of us, not just the ones who vote for you) and the ideals of this country. No matter how blind your power renders you, you are a still a slave to the Constitution. No matter how many contradictions there are in that god forsaken document, the overwhelming message is one of Freedom, and that is something you must protect.

So, I have one question for you: How do you plan to run this country with these responsibilities in mind and continue to promote violent xenophobia at the same time?

The problems in the United States stem much further than the expanse of a single letter. So for your sake, I’m going to focus on just this one.

Muslim people have been living in this country (peacefully, I might add) for a long time. Before Syria’s civil war, before the Arab Spring, before 9/11, they’ve been here. They are not a new threat to be terrified of. They are not simply another problematic faction rising from the ashes. Since 9/11, the only thing that has changed in the lives of Muslim Americans is their fear.

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie writes for the Huffington Post. After 9/11, her life changed drastically. She “hid all physical evidence in [her] home that [she] was Arab or Muslim.” Someone tried to burn down her mosque, but was never caught. When someone she wasn’t expecting knocked on her door, “[she and her husband] would tiptoe to the peephole to see if they could identify whoever stood outside as a trusted and safe individual who was not going to exercise vigilante justice on [them] or deliver [them] to Gitmo.”

She has lived in fear since the attack. Of course, after many years, the fear is manageable. But the scars remain. She writes, “the fear certainly doesn’t rule me, but the trust I once had in my country is broken. I certainly won’t fall back into the trap of trusting white America to protect my freedom.”

This woman was never a part of the problem, and to this day she isn’t. She is an American, and yeah she’s Muslim but she was horrified by 9/11 just like everyone else. Yet, she was haunted by bigotry the second those towers came down, and it just isn’t fair.

As the President of the United States, it is your job to protect people like Shawna Ayoub Ainslie. People who are too afraid to practice their religion, to wear what they want, to answer their door. She did nothing to deserve living in such excruciating fear.

Why is it that, in America, rights have become so pick and choose? The whole reason people came here in the first place was to be able to practice their religion freely. Freedom of Religion is in our bones.

Apparently, you politicians have forgotten this.

Let’s have a look at good ol’ Ben Carson. Oh, Ben Carson. The senile neurosurgeon someone in the Republican Party thought would be a great addition to the presidential race. Here is a quote from him that was documented on camera:

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

How is it even slightly okay for him to say this? A man who was campaigning in hopes of running this entire country, a man who claimed to believe in the Constitution, a man who was supported by many voting citizens. Let’s take a look at the Constitution, shall we?

Article 6: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It seems to me that the Constitution makes it very clear. Everyone should be able practice their religion freely. Religion should never be involved in the decision of whether or not one can be a part of the government. So, I have another question:

Where did this get lost in translation? Ben Carson is just one stupid guy, but how is it that people not only supported him despite this bigoted comment he made, but also continued to believe this after he was out of the running?

If Donald Trump is reading this letter, first of all, god help us, and second of all, how can you consciously promote your supporters’ beliefs when they are so obviously against the Constitution? If Hillary Clinton is reading this letter, how can you say you truly won this election when the only reason people voted for you was because you are the lesser of two great evils?

Right now, your country is operating out of terror. Each and every campaign for President is based, down at the core, on this nation’s deep rooted fear and hatred. The people who support you are afraid of anyone who is different from them, anyone who might disrupt their way of life, anyone who could somehow hurt them. These people show up at the voting booths because they are absolutely terrified and you do nothing to calm their fears. You feed them lies about terrorism and war which do nothing to calm their fears, only so you can pretend that you are capable of saving them from these horrors.

You have manipulated the people of this country into voting for you. You have given them so much to fear that they have no other choice but to follow you blindly. Those who supported Ben Carson’s statement are no more than sad, terrified people. I have pity for them.

I do not, however, have pity for you. You are a liar. You are disgusting. You use people for your own personal gain and you don’t care about the wellbeing of this country. You don’t want to help people.

If there is one thing that you take away from this letter, I want it to be guilt. I do not expect you to change. Really, I don’t, and that is why you should feel guilty. I am sixteen years old, and you have poured every last ounce of hope I had down a sewer in Flint, Michigan. You should feel guilty because I once was naive and thought that this country was a great place. You have destroyed that belief.

The very moment I can, I will begin trying to fix every wrong you have committed. I do not want to be a politician, but if that’s what it takes to destroy your impact on this society, I will. I am not Muslim, but I cannot stand to live in a place where those who are are oppressed and hated for absolutely no reason. I cannot live in a place where power is given to the best scammer.

I hope that you don’t sleep at night. You have destroyed lives. You have made people too afraid to go outside. You have twisted humanity’s most primal fears for your own personal gain. You are a hypocrite.


Emma Cooper

Oakland Writing Project (Michigan) - CASA

CASA - AP Lang

9th-12th grade students who come from 3 different schools.

All letters from this group →