The Difference Between Muslims and Trump Voters

A Muslim and a Trump voter walk into a bar.

The Trump voter looks askance at the Muslim and the hijab on her head. He says, “You’re a Muslim?”

The Muslim looks a little nervous as she takes in the red ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’ hat on top of his head, but she nods. “Yes.”

“So what do you…” He takes a deep breath and tries again. He’s not going to be like the liberal media makes him out to be. “What does that mean, exactly? To you?”

That’s not a question you usually get at a bar (for the purposes of this story, the bar in question serves several excellent nonalcoholic drinks, and she is currently enjoying her virgin daiquiri very much). She thinks for a second.

Then she outlines her beliefs on God. The Trump voter gets that. It’s not so very different from his views, after all. She describes the way in which her faith requires her to pray. He gets that, too. He only does it once, on his knees before bed, but that’s not such a big difference. She describes the reason behind the hijab, and the way she phrases it, he actually gets a new insight. Heck, he’s said for years that girls, especially young girls, are showing too much skin these days.

“Okay, but religion aside,” he says after a bit. “What else does being Muslim mean to you, exactly?”

“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand,” says the Muslim.

“Don’t you have to not eat certain things?”

“I abstain from pork, but many people do not.”

“What about your family? Also Muslim?”

“My husband is, yes. We have two children. My sister married a Christian man, though.”

His brows raise. “And your parents were all right with that?”

She smiles. “Not at first. But they have come to live with it. She is their daughter, after all.”

“Yeah…I can relate,” says the Trump voter. “My wife’s half-Mexican. Legal, documented. Family didn’t mind so much, but sometimes we get funny looks when we go out.”

She can’t stop her gaze from darting to his red hat before she looks away. “That’s a surprise.”

His mood sours. “Oh, come on.”

She looks nervous, and one hand covers the other.

“You think you know all about me. That’s hypocritical. People must make assumptions about you all the time.”

She nods. “They do. Especially now.”

“Well, can you blame them? What about Sharia law?”

“It’s awful,” she says. “It has no place in my faith or my life. None of my family or friends have anything to do with it.”

“But isn’t it in the Quran?” He says it wrong, too long on the ‘u’ and too sharp on the ‘a,’ but of course she understands him.

“Doesn’t the Bible tell you it’s a sin to get a tattoo?” She points to his bicep, where MOM has been etched in the middle of a heart.

“But I mean, but don’t you hate having to wear that thing all the time?”

Her hand rises to her hijab. “I choose to wear this. Many practicing Muslims do not. It is my decision, just like what you have put upon your own head.”

“Well, see? It’s the same, then.” He takes a swig of his beer, trying to believe it.

Her voice gets quiet, but firm. “It is not the same. I am a Muslim. That does not tell you who I am. It does not tell you if I am gay or straight or rich or poor. It does not tell you whether I am a good mother or daughter, it does not tell you if I am kind to my friends or cruel to them.”

“And me voting for Trump doesn’t tell you I’m racist.”

She looks at him. He didn’t see when it happened, but her hands have curled into fists. “Your hat doesn’t tell me what you believe. It only tells me what you have done. You may be Christian or you may not, but you voted for a man who wants me and all Muslims to register with the government. You may be white or come from mixed heritage, but you voted for a man who courted the support of the KKK and said he would crack down on black crime—as though that has not already been tried, and failed. You may have a daughter or you may not, but you voted for a man who feels entitled to the body of any woman he wants. You may have been born in America or you may not, but you voted for a man who will create a new military force to storm people’s homes, drag them from their beds, and exile them from the country where they live—but not before keeping them penned up in camps, waiting to be sent off.”

The Trump voter’s starting to get angry. “Listen here,” he said. “You don’t know anything about me. I didn’t want any of that stuff. But the government’s too big, and taxes are too high. The economy’s in the toilet, and I haven’t had a raise in eight years. I don’t care about—”

“Exactly!” He’s not used to being cut off, and it shocks him into silence. “You don’t care. You may be a racist, sexist xenophobe, or you may not. But you took your most powerful voice as a citizen, and you raised it in support of a man who is.”

She rises from her seat, collecting her purse. She swipes at her eyes, but when she meets his gaze again she is calm.

“My faith is something I am, but it is also something I do. It is part of my identity, and it is part of my actions. Being bigoted is not just an identity—it does not belong to some people, and not to others, at their choosing. It is both something they are, and something they do.”

And that’s about as much use as we get out of this story.

When Trump voters are accused of being racist, the accusers are often told they’re making wild assumptions and generalities. They are told they are the true bigots, making blanket assumptions about a whole group just based off of one factor.

It’s true that blanket statements can be terribly dangerous—when they center around identity. Someone’s faith tells you only a little bit about who they are, and it tells you nothing of their actions. The same is true of someone’s race or income level.

But when an action is evil, there is no dishonesty or bigotry is calling it evil. Decrying bigotry is not itself bigotry. In fact action is the only safe basis upon which to judge another person.

Voting for Donald Trump is an action—a concrete step someone takes of their own free will. In some cases those votes were cast with enthusiastic support for his worst, very public hate speech. But in all cases, that public hatred was not a deal-breaker.

And in all cases, the effect was the same. Not only the election of a pathologically lying, barely-literate criminal, but the emboldening of the truly hateful around the country who support him.

If you are tired of being accused of bigotry because of the way you voted, then take responsibility for it. Work against the actions Trump takes—is taking right now—to restrict the freedoms and rights of people, especially oppressed minorities, in this country.

You have taken an action that has done measurable harm to many. There is only one way to make up that damage, and that is with more action—not trying to cast off the identity of “racist.”

Prove who you are by what you do.