by Ahmed E. Souaiaia *

Trump said many things that offended many people.
Muslim Americans were among those offended by his comments on refugees, terrorism, and Islam. Now that he
is elected to be the 45th president of the United States, should
Muslims freak out?

To answer this question, I include this essay, which I had drafted in June of this year in response to some of my colleagues’ comments. I said then that support for Trump was not a passing moment: Trump will be president. Here he is:
President-Elect Trump and in about two months he will lead this country…
to somewhere. I did not publish the essay then because it could have been seen as
an attempt to influence young voters, like the ones I have in my
classes. Now that the elections are over, I will share it. It is
still as relevant now as it was then. 

I should add one thought since we now know for sure that Trump is elected president: He is the legitimate president produced through the system as is. But his election and the process should not and cannot be allowed to legitimize and legitimate racism. The task of resisting falls on t he shoulders of civil society institutions as understood in the broadest sense possible. The hard work begins now.

Donald J. Trump president of the United States of America
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
June 9, 2016
Thus far, Donald J. Trump used some of his own money
to finance his presidential campaign and he thinks that his support comes from outside the political establishments. With such real or perceived autonomy, he was able to make some of the most
outrageous comments that allowed him to be the lead story in every news
outlet–for free. Some conservative commentators thought that his campaign will
eventually collapse because Mr. Trump does not represent the Republican Party.
To his credit, he is now the presumptive nominee and that did not come easy. 

Unlike Mrs. Clinton, for whom the field was basically cleared–a decision
Democrats might regret later, she faced just two other contenders. Mr. Trump
beat sixteen other candidates. He earned the Republican nomination. Still, some
thought that since he is now the GOP nominee, he will stop making inappropriate
and racist comments to widen his base of support. Last week, he suggested that
Hispanic or Muslim judges cannot be partial because of their heritage, drawing
rebuke from many Republican leaders, including the person who stands third in
line to become president of the United States, Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

He replied to Mr. Trump’s comment saying that
“claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the
textbook definition of a racist comment.” Then he added, “I believe that we
have more common ground on the policy issues of the day and we have more
likelihood of getting our policies enacted with him.” In other words,
Republicans want to have it both ways: condemn racist comments and embrace
racists. That is why many people, including myself, believe that racism in
American is systemic and it cannot be addressed unless the institutions that
originated and have sustained racism are purged. That is the reason why, I think,
Mr. Trump will be elected president.
I resisted interjecting into a crucial political
context. However, when colleagues and acquaintances who rarely talk about
politics approach me these days to tell me how sorry they were to see
politicians like Mr. Trump feeding the flames of prejudice against and hate of
Muslims, I felt that I should say something. Then, when politically active
colleagues use Mr. Trump’s example to suggest that Muslims will be safer with a
Democratic president, I was even more frustrated. To use fear to create a
default political position for Muslims is just as offensive, in my mind, as Mr.
Trump’s comments about ethnic, racial, and religious disempowered social groups.
Muslims today are facing systemic racism the same way all other disempowered social
groups have faced it since the founding of this Republic. This is not a Republican
problem. It is an American problem.
It will not be the end of the world if Mr. Trump were
to be elected president of the United States, and I think he will be. He may
not be America’s worst president because, unlike party-favorite presidents, Mr.
Trump will be heavily scrutinized by both parties and every other civil society
institution in the country. A democracy is as strong as its civil society institutions. It is values and
rules enshrined in the Constitution, unfulfilled many of them still, that
provide comfort to citizens, not the person sitting in the White House. It is
the distribution of political power and role of civil society institutions that curb the
hunger to grab more power and use it to destroy opponents that would allow
America to weather corrupt politicians, authoritarian presidents, and zealots.
The presence of dangerous men in power should empower activists and civil society leaders to collaborate
more, to unite, and to take their role seriously to overcome the power and
violence unleashed by the state, which is controlled by power hungry persons.
President Trump will be just as capable or incapable
of carrying out his personal agenda as President Obama. After all, candidate
Obama promised to close Guantanamo, bring home the troops, stop bombing other
countries, honor the Constitution respecting torture and extrajudicial
killing, treat immigrants with dignity, insist on public option within a
universal healthcare law, and rebuild the image of the country abroad. Eight
years later, Guantanamo is still housing detainees. He sent more troops back to
Afghanistan and Iraq. He played a role in creating two more failed and near-failed states–Libya
and Syria, and he allowed corrupt allied from the Gulf to arm and supply genocidal Wahhabi genocidal fighters to overthrow the Syrian and Iraqi governments. He continued to appease and shield human rights abusers like Saudi
Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain. He carried out more drone-assisted extrajudicial
killings of American citizens than his predecessors.  He deported more immigrants than his last
three predecessors. And standing on grounds where the U.S. government dropped its
weapons of mass destruction, he refused to apologize to the Japanese victims. This
catalog of shortcomings were not due to a hidden agenda or his lack of trying
to do the right things. They were due to the deep state that control the long-term strategic posture of the United States, slow moving wheels of bureaucracy,
and the resistance from some civil society institutions, interest groups, and
political expediency. So we expect a president Trump to fail to act on some of his
threats the same way president Obama failed to deliver on many of his promises.
If he succeeds, it is because civil institutions leaders and citizens failed to
comprehend their role and act as a counterweight to those in power. It will be
an opportunity to transform society and overhaul outdated institutions like the
press, which has become a tool in the hands of the powerful, not a voice for
the people.
Muslim Americans will
not move to Canada or return to their ancestral homelands. They will stay here, at HOME, in their country where they sweat and bleed everyday,
and resist bigotry, racism, and discrimination the same way millions of other
Americans have done before them.  
* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa.
His teaching and research interests cover both classical and modern legal and
political thought in Islamic societies. He is currently documenting and writing
about the social movements and armed conflicts triggered by the events
popularly known as the Arab Spring. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on
matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other
organization with which he is affiliated. ContentAll,Events,Ideas,International Affairs,Journalism,Law and Society,World and Communitiesby Ahmed E. Souaiaia * Trump said many things that offended many people. Muslim Americans were among those offended by his comments on refugees, terrorism, and Islam. Now that he is elected to be the 45th president of the United States, should Muslims freak out? To answer this question, I include this essay, which...