Rashida Tlaib is already a hero

Dear President Trump,

Most days I spend 20 or so minutes during my lunch break catching up on news via NPR. Today the headline article was about Rashida Tlaib who is going to become the first Muslim woman member of the House of Representatives in January; she is running unopposed for the 13th District seat in Michigan. My first thought was how cool this is and my second thought was to worry whether she will have adequate security. This second thought was a reflex – as soon as the “this is so cool” thought had formed, I realized, and felt very viscerally, that there will be dozens (hundreds?) of people who are so alarmed and enraged that a Muslim woman of Arab descent is going to be a member of Congress that it is well within the realm of possibility someone could resort to violence to stop her.

I honestly don’t think I’m being an alarmist about this. You have so poisoned the public discourse by vilifying Muslims that I can easily imagine someone thinking they are righteously saving Christianity and “their country” by harming or killing her. If anything happens to her, you will have (even more) blood on your hands, President Trump.

She must know she is likely going to be a target for whipped up, misplaced rage and aggression. Actually, it would be shocking if she isn’t already being trolled on social media. Just by virtue of her decision to run for Congress in this scary, hard time of ours, she is demonstrating a degree of conviction and courage that is as mind-boggling as it is inspiring. The NPR article just gives the facts and doesn’t get into the degree of risk involved for Ms. Tlaib. I suppose this was smart since it’s not fair to her to risk undermining her position and credibility as a candidate by focusing on her vulnerabilities. But oh my, is the subtext clear. I hope she has an awesome support system because I think she is going to need one. And I hope there is enough justice and decency left in this country that she is able to take and hold office without incident and that her effectiveness is not hampered because she has to constantly watch her back lest a fellow American try to take her out.

May we be safe and not have to worry about bigoted vigilantes.
May we be happy to stand with one another against hatred and violence.
May we insist on healthy public discourse.
May we know that the word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic word for “peace.”

Tracy Simpson

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