Who decides who is a real American?

By Douglas Moore Who decides who is a real American? Does any one person or group have the right to define those who are real Americans as opposed to those who are not? This question has loomed large throughout our history. Millions of slaves were born in the United States, worked their entire lives building the nation, and died with nothing. Of course, they were never real Americans, never part of the land of the free. Native Americans have never been considered real Americans. Japanese Americans were locked in concentration camps during World War II. Jim Crow-era blacks lived their lives under the devastating thumb of the real patriots. All of these people, along with so many others, are not considered real Americans by those who claim the right to decide who is in and who is out of their exclusive club. If your skin is black or brown, you are probably not in the club. Certainly, if you are a hijab-wearing Muslim born in Africa, you are definitely not in the club. Ilhan Abdullahi Omar is the Somali-born congresswoman from Minnesota who infuriates those who claim to know exactly who is and who is not a real American. Her family fled Somalia when she was a child hoping for a better life in the U.S. She worked hard and obtained an excellent education in American schools. She has been productively employed in public service positions since 2006. She became a U.S. citizen in 2000. But none of this means anything to those who will not let her be a real American. What matters is her name, her color, her dress and her faith. What matters is that she said Muslims in the U.S. have been treated as suspected terrorists and second-class citizens since Sept. 11, 2001. What matters is that, in a speech to the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, she said the council after Sept. 11 “recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” “Some people did something.” These four words were lifted out of her talk, twisted by President Donald Trump and displayed by the New York Post against a picture of the exploding Twin Towers. These four words were more than enough for Trump to exclude Omar from being a real American. Her life, her daily reality as a Muslim woman in America, are not worth considering. She is the enemy, an alien. Omar spoke of her life and the lives of American Muslims in the post-9/11 United States. In doing so, she highlighted the impact of the attacks on the lives of thousands of U.S. citizens who played no role in them but who daily carry the blame. She did not belittle 9/11. She asked the nation to focus on what it means for some American citizens today. What was Trump’s reaction to 9/11? He falsely claimed to have seen thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets with joy. He claimed to have “a couple of hundred” of his people helping with search-and-rescue efforts. He claimed to have watched as people jumped from the burning World Trade Center buildings — from his apartment in Trump Tower four miles away. Now, Trump appoints himself the arbiter of those who belong in his real American club. He uses the power of his position to silence one voice in the name of all real Americans. During an interview on a local TV station in Minnesota, the leader of the free world bravely slandered the first-term congresswoman, calling her “extremely unpatriotic and disrespectful to our country,” adding, “She is somebody that doesn’t really understand, I think, life, real life, what it’s all about. It’s unfortunate — she’s got a way about her that’s very, very bad, I think, for our country.” Why is Trump afraid to listen to what Omar has to say, afraid to have a conversation with her? Why can’t he understand that Omar’s life, though so unlike his own, might be worth understanding? “I say you can’t hate up close,” Omar noted in the same speech that was perverted by the president. “Every time you have an opportunity to talk to someone, the chance of them hating you lessens. So that is a practice we should all adopt,” she said. This is another one of those times when we should seek out and listen to those who speak from their daily experiences about what it means to be a real American. Do we listen only to Trump and the New York Post, or do we include Omar, hijab and all? Consider this: From whom might you happen to receive truth? Douglas Moore lives in Sharon. Read more from source

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