Recently, on a lovely Saturday with wispy clouds floating across clear blue skies, a group of about 100 women – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – gathered together for a special reason. We met to change the world in our own special way. At the Central Christian Church in Gilbert, AZ our diversity, our strength and our commitment blossomed like a basket of sweet peaches. We are women of peace, women of change, women who care about each other. What a delight and joy it was for me to attend. I saw familiar faces and made new friends. After a short welcome and light breakfast of bagels, fruit and juice, we prayed for peace and for unity not just in Arizona but around the world. Two young women led us in beautiful songs. The pastor’s wife, warm and gregarious, delivered a rousing speech about the power of love. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said hatred was too great a burden to bear so he chose love. So did all the women who were present. Other leaders spoke about our shared goals, our beliefs, and our strong desire for a better world. Undoubtedly, tough challenges face us all. Hatred and violence rip our world apart every day, here and abroad, dealing death and injury to innocents. Fear separates and divides us. Donald Trump’s nasty, bitter presidential campaign has unleashed a fury on Muslims, immigrants, women, the poor, Latinos, Blacks and a multitude of others. That both physical and verbal attacks against our fellow citizens has become commonplace is shocking. This is morally corrupt. At our interfaith breakfast, we strengthened our sisterhood to move forward with grace, style and class. We are ladies after all and a lady does not curse, swear or act uncivil in any way, especially in public. At closing time, we formed a large circle. We held hands. We said a final prayer. And lastly, we vowed again to meet for more interfaith events. Our work is ongoing and so are our friendships. May Allah continue to bless and guide us all.
In response to yesterday’s twin bombings in New York/New Jersey and knife attacks in a Minnesota Mall, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says we better get tough folks. I know exactly what he means. Tough on immigrants, tough on Muslims, tough on non-White people. Keep them out of the USA. If voters act on their fears and bigotries by electing the totally unfit and unqualified Trump, we are in for the saddest day of our lives. Some might say the saddest day in America was 9/11/2001. The saddest day for me will be the election of Donald Trump. The USA is already a great place to live. If it wasn’t why would thousands upon thousands of refugees from other nations clamor to come here? We have the most sophisticated and well-armed nation in the entire world. We cannot possibly do better. Under Trump we will descend into an armed police state, much like his admired Russian leader and thug Putin. You think civil liberties disappeared after 9/11? Think again of what will happen with Trump. The man makes promises without plans how to achieve those lofty goals. He is incapable of leading the USA forward. We will become a nation of cowards, mud-slingers, beset with irrational fear and hatred. The men who planted those bombs may be from Middle East countries but they are not Muslims. They do not represent the religion followed by over 1 billion people around the world including the USA. Their actions were despicable and abhorrent. But letting Donald Trump into the White House is just as despicable and abhorrent. The world needs healing and calm. Those are qualities totally absent from Trump and company. Remember the words from a song by the late John Lennon. All we are saying is give peace a chance. Give peace a chance and by all means do not vote for Donald Trump.
The latest polls, if believable, say the presidential race is neck and neck. Trump supporters clamor for change. Here’s the change they will get if God forbid, he is elected. Stupidity as well as danger would reign. Trump proposes a trillion dollar tax cut and to vastly increase the military. From an economic standpoint, that simply cannot be done. It would totally shred our economy. We are already safe, Mr. Trump. We have the most superior military in the world with enough nuclear weapons to obliterate the entire solar system. And Trump says we need more? Total rubbish. Trump’s idea of a hero is Vladamir Putin, a man who clamps down on the free press, wipes out his enemies, real or imagined, and steals land that does not belong to him. Putin once headed the dreaded and feared KGB in the former USSR. That’s Trump’s idea of a hero. Further, Trump still boldly insists on building a wall between the USA and Mexico and that Mexico will pay for it. There is no way to force a sovereign nation, any sovereign nation, to do that. None whatsoever. He is selling gullible and bigoted Americans on a folly. It won’t happen. It cannot happen nor should it happen. Legally or morally. Trump rails against companies that send jobs to Mexico yet his own line of clothing is made in China. What hypocrisy to say the least. Trump says he’ll be the greatest jobs president ever. Yes, the greatest loss of jobs ever. Electing Trump will begin the loss of jobs because he has no idea how to run an economy. He is a failed business man, having filed for bankruptcy numerous times. You cannot do that if you are president of the USA. You cannot just decide to rip up international trade and diplomatic agreements as he pledges to do with much pride. All great empires rose such as the Romans, the Greeks, the Ottomans, the Persians, and eventually they fell. The USA rose because immigrants from Europe started to settle here beginning in 1492, taking land away from the Indians bit by bit. The Indians had their culture, their language and their way of life ripped apart by the Europeans. It didn’t seem the Europeans cared much. The settlers then got the brilliant idea to import human cargo from Africa known as slaves to work the fields and grow cotton. From 1619 until 1865 the slaves endured cruelty, hardship, family separation, rape, murder and starvation. And we have the unmitigated gall to show anger at immigrants from other countries who dare to enter America to escape war, civil unrest and extreme poverty, some of which we cause (ie invading Iraq). Electing Donald Trump will begin our downfall. So all you bigots, hateful stupid people who want change, change you will get with a Trump administration. Job loss, business failures, diplomatic troubles, non profits forced to close, people surrendering their pets to over-taxed animal shelters and the grave possibility of war. Donald Trump is totally unfit to lead the USA.
You recently traveled all the way to Mexico to heap praise upon their people. How nice. I wonder if your visit was sincere because the next day you vowed again to start deporting people living and working here for years. In fact, some of them work for you Mr. Trump. What a coincidence. Instead of smoothing relations with our Latin neighbors, like a seasoned diplomat would, you instead chose to hammer the futile idea of a separation wall between us, at Mexico’s expense. Are you aware that Mexico is one of America’s largest trading partners? Trade should matter to you. It matters to reasonable government as well as corporate leaders. You seem so out of touch with reality Mr. Trump. Your ignorance brings up how little you know about my own community, my Phoenix Islamic community. You remember us, Mr. Trump, the people you want to extreme vet or deport just like the Mexicans? And just like our Mexican friends, some of whom are Muslim converts, we Muslims are a kind, caring and compassionate bunch of folks. Surely, you’d want to know that. In case you don’t visit one of our mosques, where you’d be welcomed, here’s what we’re up to lately. I’ll start with myself. Why not throw in a little self-aggrandizement? You’re good at self-promotion so you can relate. The sisters (that’s what we Muslim women call each other) know I’m down and out. I haven’t held a job since 1994. I’m not a deadbeat but a car accident that same year wrecked my brain and body. No one wants to hire me (even though I’ve tried at writing conferences and job fairs) so I rely on a meager government handout. My sisters from a Quran group cook delicious and healthy weekly meals for me. Otherwise, I eat canned soup. I had car troubles about a month ago. Boy did my car take a wallop. No, it wasn’t another accident. The electric part of my 2008 hybrid engine needed not one new part but two. The expense jolted my pocketbook. My sisters as well as one of the mosques chipped in to cover the hefty expense. Their generosity was overwhelming. So that’s just one person, me. We post messages about sisters who are sick, ailing in the hospital. Even if they are strangers, we visit them. That’s part of our Islamic faith. I started to visit a sister in a care center during Ramadan, our holy month which fell during June. The sister has a serious debilitating disease. We’ve struck up a friendship and now I visit her weekly. Other local Muslims visit her too. I’ve been there when sisters drop in with food, flowers or just kind thoughts. It’s a joy and a pleasure to see the outpouring of support for our sister in need. Refugees from war-ravaged places like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are settled in our city. Moving to a strange country without speaking the language, knowing the customs or the people can be terrifying. The local Islamic community has interfaith partners who collect clothing, household goods and non-perishable food for the refugees. Children are remembered with toys and games. When a refugee family first arrives from overseas, a team meets them at the airport for a personal escort to their new home. Their apartment is ready to live in with used furniture collected by Muslim and interfaith volunteers. Sisters deliver a home cooked meal to the newcomers. Dozens of sisters, including our interfaith friends, make the warm welcomes possible. But it doesn’t end there. The entire Islamic community networks so the refugees secure jobs, learn to speak English and connects with their surroundings. Resources may become stretched at times and people tire out but no one ever quits. This is the commitment we make to serve each other. New converts are treated like family too. They are welcomed to the mosque, taught about Islamic beliefs and practices. No one is a stranger. Other charitable causes are championed such as the Syrian children orphaned by the relentless violence that has torn the nation apart. Each week at our mosques, imams deliver sermons about kindness to family and community. There is never talk of hatred. Students at Arizona State University perform community service and invite others to work with them. Muslim boys and girls join Scouts, athletic teams and after school groups. The media is blinded to the good work we do and so is Mr. Trump. Most people only know Islam from Fox News. They broadcast over and over the shameful, despicable acts of a few men and women who claim to be Muslims. They really are not. A true Muslim would never kill an innocent. Never. It is prohibited by the Quran. There is good and bad among us all. Take the time to know your neighbor. All your neighbors. Visit a mosque and see what’s happening in our community. We are human beings just like everyone else.
Donald Trump’s signature line is Make America Great Again. It’s all over a red baseball hat he wears. I can’t stand looking at it. The Donald implies we’re a lowly bunch of folks, living in decrepit, crime ridden neighborhoods. He says we need jobs, that some of us are lazy, slovenly. The economically deprived Trump implies our fiscal institutions are weak and feeble, sort of like him. If a foreigner listens to Trump’s bluster he might believe Americans are powerless to control our schools, public facilities, military and police forces unless the Donald reaches office. Why, I wonder does anyone, foreign or otherwise, believe the verbal rubbish he spits out at his rallies, most of which are lies, lies, and lies piled on tops of lies? Prominent newspapers fact check his speeches, which are riddled with falsehoods. If America weren’t so great, millions of immigrants wouldn’t clamor to come here. Would they risk their lives and/or their money to reach a democratic country without abundant offerings? I think not. America is one dandy place to live. If it wasn’t then why is Trump still here? Surely, he’d have escaped from such treachery. Instead, he invested millions in the real estate market. Only a complete idiot would shell out large sums of money, most of which Trump borrowed, into an allegedly failing society. Trump’s con game has gone on for a long time and sadly millions of fools have been suckered in. Take one look around and you can see what a great place America is. Our shopping malls are stocked with the latest in consumer goods. We have outstanding schools and hospitals. Trash is picked up regularly. Streets are cleaned. Supermarkets have fresh food. Every citizen has the right to vote. Women can go shopping in skimpy shorts or a floor length abaya. There are only laws against public nudity. Children and even dogs are protected from abusers. We are free to worship in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, or not to worship at all. Millions of Americans volunteer regularly in places like schools, parks, hospitals, animal shelters and much more. I could go on but you get the point. America is a great nation. Every time Donald Trump exhorts that he’s going to make America great again, I want to scream. What’s wrong with you and your close-minded following? We are already great. Can’t you see that? Maybe you just don’t want to. That’s really a problem, isn’t it?