Islam hates us.” That was a recurring theme of your campaign, Mr. President-elect.
And who can blame you? After all, your top advisors on Muslim affairs — Ann Coulter, Frank Gaffney, and Walid Phares — are card-carrying Islamophobes. Your incoming national security advisor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, wants Muslim leaders to “declare their Islamic ideology sick,” and your special advisor, Steve Bannon, has been accused of using his Breitbart News Daily radio show to instigate “fear and loathing of Muslims in America.”
But now that you’ve announced it’s time for America to “bind the wounds of division,” it might be useful for you to learn a little bit more about one of the most alienated segments of the nation you now lead: American citizens who also happen to be Muslims.
I get that you’re worried about what you call “radical Islamic terrorism.” I’ve been reporting on extremists who claim to represent Islam since I covered the first anti-American suicide bombings in Beirut in the early 1980s, so I share your concern. I’ve seen friends die and others waste away in captivity at their hands. And I’ve come awfully close to being a victim myself a few times. But I’ve also learned that Muslims come in many colors — literally and figuratively — and my doctorate in Islamic studies helped me understand that the religion itself is interpreted in many different ways. In fact, America’s 3.3 million Muslims, the other 1 percent, are developing their own take on what it means to follow Islam.
The jihadis are already rejoicing at your election because — their words here, not mine — it “reveals the true mentality of the Americans and their racism toward Muslims and Arabs and everything.” But what do they know?
When Bill O’Reilly asked you whether you thought American Muslims fear you, you replied, “I hope not. I want to straighten things out.”