What if Muslims started wearing badges?

This article is in response to Marwa Balkar’s viral Facebook post to Donald Trump. You can read the original post here.

Mawa Balkar letter to Donald Trump
Marwa Balkar: American, Muslim, proud to be both

What if Muslims did start wearing badges? Then everyone would see how many Muslims there are and how often we come in regular contact with them. Neighbours, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, your mailman, nurse, doctor, teacher, coach. To the average non-Muslim, some Muslims ALREADY wear a badge that identifies them: a burqa, a hijab, a beard with dark skin, a prominent nose, etc. But Muslims appear in all shapes, colours, sizes, and are of different heritage. I’m not American or a practicing Muslim, but if I was either, I’d be proud to associate myself with the same group-collective as Marwa.

Now consider how many OTHER American-Muslims are out there doing all kinds of amazing things for their community? But why stop there? How many OTHER Muslims are living as minorities in OTHER countries and contributing to their community in wonderful ways?

Can you imagine the look on the bigots, the islamophobes, the haters and the ignorant if they saw the doctor who just delivered their baby is a Muslim? The Starbucks barista who always serves their coffee with a beaming smile is a Muslim? That science teacher that inspired their daughter to become an engineer is a Muslim? That bass player in their son’s 3 piece band is Muslim? That guy doing deadlifts across from them in the gym is a Muslim? That bus driver who picks and drops off their kids from school is a Muslim? That guy with the tattoo sleeve and the gauge earring who just told them how they could save 15% off their phone plan. . .is a Muslim? A Muslim who’s just trying to make a living and a life, with the hopes of maybe having a family someday, two daughters and a son, but the boy would come first, so he could look after his sisters, but no more than that, cause the economy is bad, and the wife has to work as well, and it’s a b**ch paying for childcare AND a mortgage at the same time, a Muslim who has ordinary, everyday struggles and concerns, just like your average American, a Muslim who has never thought of blowing anyone up, except in the context of world tragedies and atrocities, because he thinks it’s such a shame that the innocent and youthful should die such mindless deaths, and now he’s afraid that some people might blame or discriminate against him for the deeds of others because he too, like those madmen, calls himself. . .a Muslim.

The reason Donald Trump’s idea of having Muslims wear badges is so abhorrent is because people fear that the singling out of a minority group would lead to more mindless acts of discrimination and violence. But what if we could turn it around? Rather than making it something repulsive, use it for good? To breach divides and show other non-Muslims – everyone! – that, other than a few practices and beliefs, we all just want the same thing: to live life peacefully.

Many of the bigots, islamophobes, and haters probably don’t know any Muslims personally. That’s why it’s so easy to draw that line between “us” and “them.” When you don’t know “them,” it’s so much easier to hate, discriminate, and vilify. But what if the next time Donald Trump exchanged pleasantries with a pretty barista at Starbucks before ordering his low-fat, double espresso, vanilla-drizzled mochacinno, and just before taking that first frothy sip, he looked up and saw a badge underneath the barista’s name tag that said, “I’m a Muslim.”

If he has any humanity in him, he wouldn’t be able to finish that sip without choking on it first.

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