Muslim-American Soldiers to Trump: STFU
Americans in uniform and decorated veterans—who just happen to be Muslim—have some choice words for draft-dodging Donald Trump.
Republican presidential frontrunner @realDonaldTrump’s repeated insistence that he “love[s] the Muslims,” and believes that they are “great people,” is consistently undercut by his stated desire to impose fascist policies on millions of Muslims.
Over the past several weeks, these have included proposals for a Muslim database, closing down mosques, killing families, and—as a response to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks—the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” until Congress figures out “what is going on.”
The proposed halt on Muslim immigration and travel was swiftly condemned by the White House, Republican and Democratic presidential contenders, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, the RNC, and the Pentagon, which warned that Trump’s blanket ban would weaken the fight against ISIS, not prevent domestic terrorism.
“There are Muslims serving patriotically in the U.S. military today as there are people of many faiths,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters on Tuesday. “Anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the [ISIS] narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.”
Many were quick to point out that the ban would include tourists and Muslim-American citizens who are currently abroad—including men and women serving in the American armed forces who are stationed abroad and who happen to be Muslim.
The prospect has not been going over well with Muslim-American military personnel, given how Donald J. Trump is running to become their commander in chief. (For more on Trump’s own draft deferments, see here.)
“I think what Donald Trump said is completely un-American,” Abdi Akgun, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, told The Daily Beast. “It’s completely outrageous. There are a lot of Muslims in this country who have pledged to be an American, that are paying their taxes, and are law-abiding citizens. And for Donald to make statements that are bigoted in nature is … not what being an American is about.”
Akgun joined the Marines in August 2000, right after high school. Two years later, he was fighting in Iraq in the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. When asked about the possibility of serving under a President Trump, he simply released a brief sigh of exasperation and conceded that, “Well, there is a possibility, yes.”
“I really don’t have any [further] statement to make,” he continued.
Mohammed Shaker, a Rand Paul-supporting Young Republican, was deployed to Iraq as an Army medic with the 82nd Airborne. He is, to put it generously, also perplexed by Trump’s position.
“If we’re being completely honest, I have no idea what Donald Trump is doing or why,” Shaker said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me … His policies are very dangerous. One of the worst things we can do, after any kind of tragic event … is to limit people’s freedoms.”
Shaker told CNN that “as a veteran and as a service member of the United States military, yes, I would serve under Donald Trump,” because the job and mission is still “all about protecting America and our liberties.” However, that doesn’t mean he’s not unsettled by the Republican frontrunner’s rhetoric.
“It is very scary thing,” he told The Daily Beast. “There always will be someone running saying stuff like this … There’s always going to be one sort of authoritarian candidate … Hopefully he doesn’t get to implement any of that stuff.”
Shaker can only imagine what his family and life would have been like if there had been a blanket ban on Muslim immigration in decades past.
“If Donald Trump was president in 1989, or 1984 … if he had been president and had these policies in effect, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now because maybe I never would have been born in America,” he said. “I would have been in Egypt. I never would have heard of Ron Paul. I never would have served … If we had his policy in practice now, what kind of people would we be stopping from coming to this country?”
Tayyib M. Rashid, also a Muslim-American, dropped out of college at the age of 19 to join the Marines; he served from 1997 to 2002. “We [Muslims] know the frustration we feel when people label us for [an] act of terrorism,” Rashid wrote for USA Today in July, addressing fellow American Muslims. “I say to you to keep your head up and walk proud. Continue to follow Prophet Muhammad’s example of compassion, service to humanity, and love for all, hatred for none.”
Rashid is another proud veteran who has no plans to endorse The Donald.
“This guy is hijacking America from Americans,” he told The Daily Beast.
“Mr. Trump’s suggestion is absolutely preposterous, hate-filled, and bigoted,” he said. “This kind of rhetoric is dividing our armed forces, and actually making us less safe. The personal offense is there, but thinking far beyond that, it could give some extremists within the U.S. the desire to take the law into their own hands. I am concerned about Muslim-Americans’ safety, and I’m concerned about Muslim service members’ safety. There are people who could take Mr. Trump’s comments as sponsorship for their own hate-filled actions.”
Rashid went on to stress that, as a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he wants to “engage our fellow Americans in dialogue … to drive out hate and fear.”
“This is the root of defeating extremism,” he said. “We can’t continue to bomb terrorism out of existence, it just doesn’t work that way.”
It’s the kind of nuance that frequently seems to evade Trump, especially when the topic of conversation turns to war, Muslims, or mosques. For his part, the real-estate mogul and onetime reality-TV superstar would much rather settle for “bomb[ing] the shit outta them [until] there would be nothing left.”