Muslim American Woman Finds Herself In An Unrecognizable White House Under Cruel Leadership
Have you ever had a job that you really loved? A place where everybody is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Then, you see it all go to hell in a handbasket because a new boss comes in?
Meet Rumana Ahmed, former assistant to Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. In her own words, “a hijab-wearing Muslim woman … the only hijabi in the West Wing.” Ahmed came to the White House in 2011 fresh out of George Washington University. Today, in an article for The Atlantic, she explained why she had to leave the White House after the arrival of Trump and his gang of White Nationalist, anti-immigrant, Muslim-hating evildoers.
Trying to do the right thing
Ahmed had committed to remaining at her job even after seeing Trump’s hateful rhetoric on the campaign trail since she wasn’t a political appointee. She felt duty bound to do so.
I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.”
After only eight days she threw in the towel. Why would this bright young woman leave a job that many folks would kill to have? Because the new administration views her as less than American. She explains:
When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat.”
Democracy under attack
When she told her new boss, Michael Anton, she was leaving he didn’t ask why. She told him anyway:
I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy.”
At the time she was unaware of Anton’s views on Muslims and American diversity. Like Trump and most of his inner circle, Anton is no friend of non-white, non-Christian Americans. In September last year Anton penned The Flight 93 Election under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus, who was a Roman Consul who sacrificed himself in order for his army to be victorious in the Battle of Vesuvius. Anton’s view of America and our government is just as dark and frightening as Trump’s inauguration speech.
White House not reflective of America’s people
Ahmed wrote that she believes “America’s government and decision-making should reflect its people.” The new administration doesn’t view Ahmed and others like her as American, and therefore not a reflection of our people.
She couldn’t be any more American. She is the very personification of the American dream. Again, her own words are better than mine.
My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1978 and strove to create opportunities for their children born in the states. My mother worked as a cashier, later starting her own daycare business. My father spent late nights working at Bank of America, and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president at one of its headquarters. Living the American dream, we’d have family barbecues, trips to Disney World, impromptu soccer or football games, and community service projects. My father began pursuing his Ph.D., but in 1995 he was killed in a car accident.
They came to America for a better life. For a better future for their children. In only one generation this daughter of immigrants was a college educated professional with a job in the White House. How is that not the epitome of the American dream?
Like the rest of us, Ahmed’s world changed forever on 9/11. Old friends and classmates began to look at her with suspension. She endured taunts and threats. Nevertheless, to coin a popular phrase these days, she persisted.
The revival of hate
Ahmed writes “a harsher world began to reemerge in 2015” with the rise of Islamophobia as the Trump hate train begin to roll across America. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans rose as Trump gained steam with every primary win. Recalling those days she wrote the following:
Throughout 2015 and 2016, I watched with disbelief, apprehension, and anxiety, as Trump’s style of campaigning instigated fear and emboldened xenophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes. While cognizant of the possibility of Trump winning, I hoped a majority of the electorate would never condone such a hateful and divisive worldview.”
She noted that the “Climate in 2016 felt like it did just after 9/11”, except now “this fear and hatred were being fueled by Americans in positions of power.” She tells of walking out of the Metro and having a man scream at her, “Fuck you! Fuck Islam! Trump will send you back.” Such behavior epitomizes the stereotype of the ignorant American. It makes me sick to my stomach to live in a country where we treat our fellow citizens that way.
Trump and his followers are a danger to America
Ahmed comments that having Alt-right wingers on the White House staff with their anti-Islam rhetoric only fuels ISIS recruiting efforts. For five years Ahmed worked to help Muslim Americans be fully involved in our diverse culture. She was proud of her work and proud of her country. The America she was born in, the America that was the land of opportunity is now something different. We are no longer seen as a welcoming nation, and we are less noble because of that change.
Her wisdom is beyond her years as she notes, “Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a ‘weakness’ is dangerous. It is false.”
I couldn’t agree more sister. God help us.
Feature Image Courtesy AL ARABIYA ENGLISH