American Protests against the Muslim Ban: Lessons for all Pakistanis

It is now a recorded fact of history that as soon as Donald Trump signed and promulgated his infamous Muslim Ban, hundreds of Americans rushed to their local airports to protest this singularly stupid action of their president. Note, no one organized this protest, there was no centralized call by leaders or activists: this was a spontaneous response by the average American citizens from all walks of life.

On the legal front, the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) immediately field stay orders against the detention of some detained refugees and some major district courts in America issued a stay order within a few hours. Of course, this is not a total victory, but it says  lot about the general American culture. Note also that included amongst the protestors were Americans from all faiths and creeds: Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists etc.etc.

In fact in so many way the American Jews were and have been the strongest critics of this policy. In most of the cases in new York as they, in the words of one of my Twitter sources they finished their Shabbat and rushed to the airports to protest:


Similarly, a lot of Democratic leaders, liberal activists, students, and Christians also joined the protests against the Muslim ban. Some leading Catholic and Protestant church organizations also called President Trump’s actions Un-Christian and Un-American. Now, please note that for the Democratic party the American Muslims are not even remotely a huge political  constituency, but they still came out strongly against the ban.

These protests, of course, were prompted by several individual and collective motivations: some people were there because they saw it as Un-American, others joined because they thought it immoral to stand by when refugees were being detained, yet others joined the protests because they felt it was the wrong way to make America safe. Their personal of collective motivations notwithstanding, all these people came out and made their collective bodies speak against the Muslim ban, and that is truly American and commendable!

Now, as Pakistanis we need to ask ourselves some serious questions. The most important question  to ask, of course, is this:

How many of us, the Pakistani citizens, would have come out and stood in solidarity with a minority group if the government had promulgated a law like this?

And if the answer is “we don’t know,” or worse “not many” then we have a lot work to do as a nation!


The Incredible Pettiness of Mr. Trump

America has had its fair share of not too intelligent presidents, but in most of the cases when such people got elected they made up for their intellectual shortcomings by either being compassionate and kind, or by simply projecting a popular I-am-just-like-you-all persona. That Mr. Trump does not have the required experience and intelligence to run this country is fairly obvious, but what, in my view, is even more startling is his tendency to be petty, little, and mean.

In fact, this is probably the first time in post World War American history that a person with a foul temper, juvenile behavior, and petty attitude has won the nomination of a major political party. So, if he gets elected, America will, for the first time, have a president who is likely to stomp his feet and yell and scream when he does not get his way. And, being president, no one will be able to set him straight and send him on a time out or ground him. Some people believe that as he runs for office, he will, somehow, become more presidential. But no amount of coaching will ever make Mr. Trump “presidential.” He has, in the recent weeks, become even more childish in public.

His recent attack on Ghazal Khan, the mother of a fallen Muslim soldier, is yet another example of this cruel childishness. This is classic juvenile behavior: think of your school years, doesn’t his behavior remind you of the kid who always blamed others for his own failures. It seems, whatever goes on in the  world, it is always someone else’s fault and if you criticize Mr. Trump, then in his teen-age mind, you deserve to be called names or belittled.

His supporters believe that he “tells it like it is.” Not true. How many of the conservative families in America would accept their children to throw tantrums, yell at others, or call them names. How many Christians in America would be okay if their son or daughter derided the death of a fallen soldier by making his mother the object of his or her criticism. No, Mr. Trump may have a small following amongst the most uncritical and the most bigoted, but he, to me, does not represent the good Christian or conservative values; I know this because I have experienced the kindness and generosity  of my conservative and Christian friends over the past twenty years or so and not even a single one of them would behave the way Mr. Trump does!

So, the question here is not  whether America can afford to have an unprepared person as its next president: maybe that can be remedied with good advisors and with a lot of help. The questions here is whether America and Americans will be okay to have someone so petty as their president. After all, besides his or her policy, American presidents are also seen as as people larger than their parties and as people who can set some good examples for all Americans. American presidents, by and large, have always projected themselves as either being populist or, at least, being capable of working with grace and dignity even under the worst of circumstances. The office of the president is more than just what the president does; it is also about what kind of symbolics the president offers to the Americans and to the rest of the world.

Could someone so petty as Mr. Trump fulfill this symbolic function of the US presidency locally and globally? I don’t think so.

So, think twice before you vote America!