Living in one of the seven countries identified in President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, you’d have to be really into American politics to pay enough attention to know that most of us disagree with Trump just as much as they do. I have colleagues in Sri Lanka who were all surprised to the point of laughing out loud when we had our first conference call the morning after the election and everyone at the table was mourning. It felt good to express our distaste for Trump to people who’d mistakenly assumed a solid majority of us were represented by the election results.
But then I read this on how Trump is viewed by Iranians, from the Guardian:
What do Iranians actually think of America’s new leader?
“My future is now very uncertain. I spent thousands of dollars applying to universities in the US to do a PhD there. I have been accepted at one of these universities so far, but now I am not sure whether I will be able to get a visa to go there. To make matters worse, in Iran if you don’t go back into education a year after graduating you’re expected to do military service. I worry that if I don’t sort out my next steps in time this will be the only option for me.” ~ Amir, 26 from Mashhad
“Iranians see Trump as just another American leader full of empty threats, the people are sick and tired of the same game being played out over and over with the same outcome. Trump’s travel ban has affected a minority of Iranians, but it has also pushed people to stay and serve their country. It is as though Trump is exposing the America that the Iranian government has being talking about for the past few decades.” ~ Anonymous, 19 from Yazd
“There is a lot of anxiety about Trump among ‘normal’ citizens, and by that I mean those not connected or supportive of the regime. That’s because at the end of the day it’s us who will pay for all these political games. There will be millions of crushed dreams as a result. I grew up with the internet, and American culture – at least the liberal part – has really shaped who I am. I am LGBTQ and it really helped me accept myself and be brave. I thought US culture was accepting, open and loving but now it seems the opposite.” ~ Amir, 24
America is great, but not in Trump’s way
The biggest thing that has struck me regarding the Muslim ban are the reunion stories once a family member, traveling student, or someone who aided our soldiers in their homeland is allowed into the US. I’ve seen story after story of immigrants expressing gratitude for the support of the American people in all its many forms.
“This proves to everyone who doubted my decision to come to America for a new start that when even an elected president can’t dictate the law in ways that contradict the nation’s founding values, my faith in the American Dream is well founded.”
We stood up, with our protests, letters, phone calls, emails, likes, shares, and profile photos, against the worst threat to our values that anyone can imagine and held those forces at bay. America is great, just not in the Trump way, and I feel like there’s this unique moment right now for us to show it.