Bearded, armed men are occupying government property for “as long as necessary” and they say they're ready to use violence, if necessary. That’s what the situation in Oregon looks like today. Yet no SWAT team is on the scene and no police officer has fired on the protesters.
The only reason for that, argues Wajahat Ali, is that the protesters are not people of color or religious minorities. Ali is a writer, attorney and consultant who writes regularly for The Guardian. He's the lead author of the investigative report Fear Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.
“If 15 Muslim Americans held up a 7-Eleven while drinking Masala Slurpees, holding BB guns, I think you’d have some presidential candidates right now suggesting that they carpet bomb the parking lot and/or send in a drone strike,” he says.
Ali believes there is a double standard when it comes to who is considered a patriot and who is called a terrorist in the US.
"Mainstream America, of course, always means white and there is a problem with whiteness in America. And whiteness is the ideology of supremacy based on exclusion. And what we are seeing right now, especially with the media response, I think, with law enforcement response and the political response ... is a deep discrepancy, there's a divide that exists in what should be a fair, just, equal America."
Ali explains that the legitimate fears of white voters about the economy and national security are being preyed on by politicians in order to get votes in the presidential race.
As a father, Ali worries about his son growing up in such a divisive climate.
"I worry whether or not his loyalty will always be questioned, whether or not he will have to engage in this endless condemn-athons whenever a violent extremist commits a violent act in a country that he's never visited. You know, will he be seen as authentically American due to his mocha caramel skin and his multi-hyphenated name and can he emerge as the protagonist of the American narrative or will he always feel besieged and burdened by these toxic narratives that drag minority communities down. And I'm hopeful, I remain hopeful, I have to be hopeful. I'm an American and I was born and raised in this country and I'm going to be damned if I'm going to let anyone tell me that the American narrative does not belong to me or my son just because he happens to be brown, multi-hyphenated and Muslim."
You can read more from Wajahat Ali at The Guardian's website.