The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, undeniably, was a landmark moment in American and world history. However, it also heralded an era of identity politics juxtaposed between black and white. What was supposed to be a watershed moment, unleashed some of the worst of America. Racial reverberations began to erupt and, in just eight years, America has regressed to an era that echoes of the Jim Crow years. White supremacy groups came out of the closet and rallied in support of a populist presidential candidate.
And that emergence to the public spotlight has led to ongoing racially based attacks — such as what happened a few days ago in Charlottesville.
What happened in Charlottesville is an abomination — but it is also American history. It is a culmination of the excesses of far-right, white supremacists emboldened by this presidency. Supremacists are laying out their hateful agenda with impunity. They are invoking the support of a president whose key adviser proclaims white supremacy and repudiates African Americans, Jews, and women. Prominent white supremacist leaders are declaring that the alt-right unity fiasco “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump.”
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History has shown that such hateful rhetoric has led to violence, genocide and millions of deaths during World War II. The rise of white supremacy in American will bolster worldwide hate groups and destroy world peace.
But despite this extremism, American can and will march forward to a better future. That is how we have always improved — with struggle and sacrifice. But it comes down to each person taking personal ownership and engaging in self-reformation.
His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has addressed hate speech and said: “Let it not be in the name of free speech that the world is destroyed.”
America is far from perfect. Since its inception, it has continued to make some progress — from the Reconstruction era to repeal of Jim Crow laws to the advancements of the civil rights movement.
It must recourse to its historical advancements as a precursor of the future course of action. It must reclaim itself from the worst elements of xenophobia that are hell-bent upon making it a monochromatic nation devoid of diversity and inclusiveness.
In these testing times, American ideals offer hope. They refuse a return to the harrowing path of the past that was littered with imperfections. The founding principles are a beacon of hope that shine upon this union and enable it to ebb forward despite the impediments. The Constitution disallows anything contrary to this. This formidable document testifies to our nation’s resilience and ability to rise above the troubling times that we witnessed in Charlottesville.
I have experienced the harrowing effects of unchecked hate stemming from state-sponsored persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan.
This presidency concerns me but I am not scared. I am instead hopeful that my children’s liberties will remain intact in America, and they won’t be denied the rights that I was denied growing up.
Hate groups will continue to exist, but they will not wield enough influence to hold the nation hostage because our Constitution offers the most formidable resistance to their loathsome agenda. This is a brief hiatus before the dawn of hope.
Mansura Bashir Minhas is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. She lives in Fort Lauderdale.