Normal, 23 September, 2015 (Alochonaa): Republican presidential nomination aspirants Donald Trump and Ben Carson are relentlessly demeaning the migrants and Muslims of this country. In a recent rally at New Hampshire, a Trump supporter described Muslims as ‘a problem in this country’. He said, “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.” Chuckling Trump responded saying “We need this question. This is the first question.” “Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us,” the man continued. “That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?” Trump didn’t challenge the questioner.
A day later his response via twitter was that it is not his job to correct supporters’ claims about the President; as for the anti-Muslim comment, he remained silent. On Sunday, 20 September, another GOP candidate went further. Ben Carson, in a response to a question from Chuck Todd of NBC in the Meet the Press, said that Islam, as a religion, is incompatible with the [US] Constitution. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” he said. Perhaps the renowned neuro-surgeon forgot that he is suggesting a ‘religious test’ for a public office which the US constitution forbids. The Article 6 of the constitution stipulates, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
How much immigrants, the Native Americans and Muslims have contributed to the US seems to be unknown to both Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson.
The list of the contributions to various fields will be too long, and I don’t think either they or their supporters would have the patience to read it. One thing the Republicans claim to understand is war. They have taken us to too many wars. Therefore, below is a short list of the Native Americans’, immigrants’ and Muslims’ contributions to the war since 2001. These are the facts the US media are failing to present and ask these two ‘gentlemen’ as to how they would like to respond:
- One of the first U.S. servicemen killed in combat in Iraq Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22. A rifleman with the Marines, Gutirezz died in a firefight March 21, 2003 near Umm Qasr. At the time of his death he was not a US citizen. He hold a permanent US resident status, a status he earned in 1999. He arrived in the US at the age of 14, without any legal documents. After his parents died, he left his native Guatemala, made a 2000-mile journey through Mexico, hopped 14 freight trains. Eventually he was detained by the US immigration on arrival. After becoming a resident, he volunteered to serve the country and made the supreme sacrifice. (http://thefallen.militarytimes.com/marine-lance-cpl-jose-gutierrez/256506)
- The first female US soldier to die in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa, a member of the Hopi tribe. She was the first Native American woman in history to die in combat while serving with the U.S. military.
- Between 2001 and May 15, 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted posthumous citizenship to 111 service members, by the end of the Iraq war the number increased to 120. Yes, you have read it correctly: they had already laid down their lives , they have sacridiced their lives for a country of which they were not a citizen but they call home by choice. The USCIS had naturalized more than 37,250 foreign-born members of the U.S. Armed Forces between 2001 and 2008. In July 2002 and executive order issued by President Bush allowed expedited US citzienship process for non-citizens service men. The 2004 policy changes allowed USCIS to hold naturalization ceremonies at U.S. military bases around the world. During the peak of the war, close to 2% of the total 1.4 million active duty service members were immigrant non-citizens. (http://immigration.about.com/od/usimmigrationhistory/a/Immigrant-Soldiers-Gave-Much-To-U-S-In-Iraq.htm)
- “At least 6,024 U.S. service members who declared Islam as their faith have served honorably in overseas war deployments since the 9/11 attacks, and 14 Muslim-American troops have been killed in action, all in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.” (https://www.commentarymagazine.com/american-society/military/rep-king-muslim-american-military-statistics/)
Shame on Trump and Carson, but also shame on US media for not playing its role of challenging them with facts.
* Dr. Ali Riaz is a Professor and Department Chair of the Politics & Government Department at Illinois State University.
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Categories: US politics