Lately, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been criticized in the news for wanting taxpayers to fund a dining set that costs $31,000. (He’s tried to shift the blame to his wife.) We seem to forget a far more disturbing aspect of Carson’s behavior: his Islamophobia. Remember his anti-Muslim comments as a presidential candidate? Remember he said that no Muslim-American should ever serve as president?
Back then, I heard from a fellow Air Force officer, a Muslim-American, originally from Iraq, who served proudly in our armed forces. He said Ben Carson’s comment brought him to tears — that a candidate for a major political party would insist on a religious test that would bar all Muslims from serving this country as president.
Yet for his Islamophobic position, which was contrary to the U.S. Constitution that forbids any religious test for political office, Ben Carson was rewarded by the Trump administration and appointed Secretary at HUD.
Don’t focus on his pricey dining set, America: Focus on his ignorance and his prejudice against millions of patriotic Americans, who just happen to be Muslim. And remember how he was rewarded for this.
This episode came back to me when I read TomDispatch today. A U.S. Navy veteran, Nate Terani, recalls his own personal nightmares of being targeted as a Muslim-American by a Trump administration that leans increasingly toward Islamophobia. As Tom Engelhardt notes in his introduction to Terani’s article, Trump has “tapped the [CIA’s] previous director, Mike Pompeo, a notorious Tea Party Islamophobe and Iranophobe, to replace Twitter-fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Now, another key post is evidently about to be up for grabs. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is reportedly almost out the door as the president openly considers a replacement for him, possibly former Bush-era ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He’s another major Iranophobe, who has called for launching military operations against that country for years … [Combine this with] the potential return of torture, the possible refilling of Guantanamo with new prisoners, the intensification of war across the Greater Middle East with a new focus on Iran, and the entrenchment of particularly extreme forms of Islamophobia” and you truly have a recipe for a nightmarish America.
There is no room in America for prejudice based on religious belief (or lack thereof). Religious wars are nightmares of our past; we must not allow the haters to bring them back into our present or our future.