In the midst of World War II and as a result of Pearl Harbor, approximately 6 million Jewish people were killed in a mass genocide in Germany known as the Holocaust and Japanese internment camps kept those living in the United States of Japanese ancestry isolated from the rest of the country. We see both these events as international tragedies, yet if we observe our world now, it can be seen that history is, in many ways, repeating itself.
Islamophobia is a very real and very tragic thing. With the rise of ISIS, now more than ever, people overgeneralize all Muslims as terrorists and cold-blooded killers. In truth, however, Islam is a peaceful religion that has been plagued by a handful of extreme fundamentalists, causing a nearly universal fear of and prejudice against Muslim people.
Blinded by this fear, the United States has taken in only a small fraction of Syrian refugees, while thousands more stay stranded in war-ridden Syria. Sound familiar? Less than a century ago, the United States refused Jewish refugees from Germany during the Holocaust, partly due to economical reasons but mainly because of anti-semitism. Nearly 6 million Jewish people were killed. We see that part of history now as a tragedy, questioning how we could of let that happen. Yet here we are, taking the same path that we did only decades ago.
The main reason the United States has denied the entrance of refugees into the country is because of fear that a few terrorists will slip in with the refugees. This fear is understandable, but is it really right to deny tens of thousands of people simply because there might be, on the off chance, a few bad seeds? In regard to Trump’s supporters, this is fear stems from internalized and in many cases, explicit Islamophobia and the irrational idea that all Muslims are killers. Truthfully, the refugees are the terrorized, not the terrorists, and it would be inhumane to decline them entrance into the country.
Recently, Donald Trump has succumbed to Islamophobia, stating his mission that, if elected president, no Muslims would be let into the country and those that are already living in the country would need to be registered as Muslims. This is disturbingly comparable to the World War II Japanese internment camps that were established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. The incarceration of Japanese-American citizens was a racially charged act, all too similar to Trump’s recent Islamophobic idea to register all Muslims in the country. Once again, we see the mass organization of Japanese people as a mistake, yet it is something that is being revisited today. Unfortunately, many people in the electorate aren’t against the ideas voiced by Trump whose poll numbers have increased, surpassing 40% for the first time.
We live in an Islamophobic time where religion has determined the way one is seen by others and portrayed in the world. People are so eager to defend their claim that Muslims are the ones causing all the violence in the world, yet white-extremists have killed almost twice as many Americans in domestic terrorist acts than Islamic-extremists have done since 9/11. We are overgeneralizing to the point that we are becoming inhumane as a country, turning down once again those that fall into our ignorant and misinformed interpretation of Islam and all of those who follow it. It is time to realize the dangerous consequences of prejudice and start to see each Muslim person as an individual, or else we’ll once again be reflecting on ourselves decades from now thinking: How could we have done that? How could we have been so cruel?