The presidential debate that took place on October 9th was an...interesting one, especially in terms of the words of one particular presidential candidate. Donald Trump has said a lot of xenophobic, racist, misogynistic and ableist things, among many. He's also known for being pretty Islamophobic.
At one point in the debate, a Muslim audience member asked, "With Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?" A very valid question. What was Trump's response?
"There is a problem...and we have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on."
Besides the implication that Muslims apparently don't report suspicious activity (which is completely false), it's also ridiculous to assume that every Muslim knows what every other Muslim is up to and just decides to keep it to themselves. I mean, we share a belief in one God, but we're not exactly telepathic. It should be easy to see why statements like these are laughable, and so Muslims on twitter decided to laugh with the hashtag #MuslimsReportStuff.
This was all started by a twittter user named Moustafa Bayoumi, who tweeted:
I'm a Muslim, and I would like to report a crazy man threatening a woman on a stage in Missouri. #debate
— Moustafa Bayoumi (@BayoumiMoustafa) October 10, 2016
The tweet took off, gaining thousands of likes and retweets and birthing the hashtag #MuslimsReportStuff. Some gems from the hashtag include:
I did laundry this morning but still haven't put it away #MuslimsReportStuff
— Sana M (@sanamasuds) October 10, 2016
Hi 911, my white neighbor came over for dinner and described my mom's food as bomb. Should I be concerned? #MuslimsReportStuff
— eemi (@eemanabbasi) October 10, 2016
I think my sister drank orange juice straight out of the carton, will continue to investigate #MuslimsReportStuff
— basith (@MrCommonCents) October 10, 2016
Ugh, I'm out of ice cream. #MuslimsReportStuff
— Deanna ديانا (@deannaothman) October 10, 2016
Creepy orange clowns sighted recently across the country. Some say they saw one pacing the debate stage tonight. #Muslimsreportstuff
— Zainab Chaudry (@zainabnc) October 10, 2016
The hashtag is flooded with more vigilant warnings by fellow Muslim American citizens, and it puts a hilarious and positive spin on a pretty ridiculous comment.
However, it is important to note that this attitude toward Muslims, the idea that we know all the suspicious activities going on in our communities and choose not to report them, is not a new one. In politics in general, polite comments about Muslim citizens are often thinly veiling pronouncements of Muslim Americans as valuable and American enough only when they are actively fighting terrorism.
Even Hillary Clinton in this debate said, "We need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines." And earlier this year at the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton said, "If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you."
These comments are made as if Muslims only exist within the context of terrorism, and that all Muslims must be actively fighting terrorism at all times. Why can't we just be normal people, people who do laundry and are too lazy to put it away, or people who are disappointed when they run out of ice cream? Why are both our actions and non-actions political when we're just trying to live our lives, when we're trying to exist in our own contexts and are far removed from anything related to terrorism? This is an important conversation to have, and while a twitter hashtag is certainly not everything, it is a good start.
In the meantime, Muslims will be reporting stuff. And I'd like to report that this conversation is happening, and it's wonderful.