I hope everyone is paying very close attention. The tactics being used by white supremacists and right wing Zionists have been consistent over years. Now, it’s just playing out on a very national stage. None of this is new. Some progressives unfortunately have fell for the tactics in the past and have even helped perpetuate the harm that we see happening against people like Ilhan sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.
So here’s what the right has been working on for years: to marginalize, demonize, vilify Muslim American/pro-Palestinian voices to the point where we become so radioactive, nobody wants to touch us or associate with us. They use labels like: radical, extremist, anti Semitic, divisive, militant. They publish article after article, out of context quotes, falsehoods, rumors and it’s so much that some may even begin to believe it. It’s as if someone just says the same thing enough times, it becomes a fact.
Malcolm X taught us to BE CAREFUL that the media is the most powerful entity in the world and will have you hating the ones being oppressed and loving the ones doing the oppressing.
Why Ilhan? She represents everything the right has been trying to suppress for decades. Bold, unafraid, unapologetic voices that speak truth to power, resonate with diverse groups, that are committed to the human rights of the Palestinian people, who vehemently criticize the State of Israel and don’t worry about superficial consequences like losing funding or a donor or a seat at a table. Their mission is to crush these voices.
This is what is at the root here. They can’t handle it. They are losing control. How dare we have women questioning the dominant narrative. Pushing back on stale out of date and out of step foreign policy positions, and naming and confronting white supremacy head on. How dare we not cower to Republicans and neo-liberal Democrats? How dare we stand our ground?
This is what’s happening. They want to make Ilhan a martyr of our movement to send a message to all of us: that this unapologetic posture and work for justice for all people including Palestinians will not stand. We say not on our watch. She is one, and we are many.
So how do you fit in? This is a moment of reflection.
Did you ever hastily join in with the opposition to criticize Ilhan or Rashida or a Muslim American/pro-Palestinian/Palestinian leader based on what you read in an article or a thread on Facebook?
How many times have you been in spaces where you knew pro-Palestinian voices were excluded and you went any way and/or stayed silent?
How many times have you been told not to mention Palestine or not to defend Ilhan or another leader under attack because it’s not your fight and you may lose opportunities?
As you reflect, have you ever unintentionally perpetuated harm against someone who may have needed you in that moment?
Solidarity is not just about public affirmations of support. It’s about taking risks by standing up for people and communities in a space when they are not present even when it’s unpopular.
These campaigns have been launched against all of our heroes in the past. There’s nothing new here, it’s just different faces and different leaders.
Now that we are mostly awake - Be a cycle breaker. Don’t let this keep happening. STAND UP. Be FREE. In order for us to ever be fully physically free, we must be mentally free.
Speak up even if you are the only one. Don’t participate in marginalizing the most powerful voices we have as a trade off for some superficial promise or even threat. Your dignity and principles are worth more than what anyone can offer you for your silence.
Being authentic, while speaking truth is liberating and puts you on the right side of history. Try it, it feels SO GOOD.