"Immigrants – legal and illegal – are the main target for Mr Trump. He is playing on a raw, visceral nativism that laments the loss of a normative America defined by English-speaking, white and middle-class citizens," says Hussein Ibish in his article Trump Taps into the Rage of of Anxious American Men in The National.
What is America? Is it small town America from the 50s, as depicted in the Andy Griffith show, where the men shoot the breeze at the barber shop and the women are at home baking and the black people and the white people don't mix? An America where everyone knows their place. That is the America that Trump is harkening back to and the one that is stirring the hearts of so many people who turn out at his rallies and who have given him a more than double lead over his nearest rival in a recent CNN poll.
I am an American, but my America looks nothing like the world of the Andy Griffith show, a show I grew up watching and also feel nostalgic about, even though it has little to do with me. For starters, I am not white. And furthermore, I am not a Christian or a Jew. I am a Muslim. My America consists of a family of observant Muslims, many (but not all) who wear head scarfs, celebrating Eid, not Christmas, and abstaining from drinking alcohol and eating pork. The America I grew up with consists of Indian food for three meals a day, going to the mosque on Friday, not church on Sunday, and instead of watching football on Sunday (though a few of my family members love watching football) the Indian satellite channel is playing.
But my America consists of very traditionally American things too. I grew up watching MTV and old American TV shows like Magnum PI, Bewitched, and yes, the Andy Griffith show. My America consists of Thanksgiving and Halloween and Valentine's Day, if not Christmas Day. My America consists of enjoying chicken fingers, country-fried steak and grits on occasion.
Who's version of America is more American, mine or Trump's? Who does America belong to? Does it belong to white men at the helm, who keep the women, minorities and immigrants in their place, contained and separate? Who gets to define America? Does the illegal immigrant from Mexico define what America is? Does the newly arrived scarf-wearing Muslim woman from Syria define what America is? Do the migrant workers in the field define what America is, or does only their white boss hold that privilege?
As a non-white, non-Christian, non-male American, I refuse to give up my American-ness. I AM America. So is the illegal immigrant worker who makes America run smoothly. So is the Syrian woman with the headscarf. I guess the America as defined and made up of non-whites is what scares the living daylight out of Trump supporters. They want to hold on to the Andy Griffith version where white men are on top and everyone else knows their place in the lower ranks.
But is that America even possible? Where the LGBT community goes back in the closet, minorities and immigrants live in fear and are segregated and the country's borders are sealed shut. Is it possible to turn back the clock on human progress and evolution? I suppose that that's what Trump is promising his supporters.
Meanwhile, I stand for the nuanced, diverse, multicultural, multilingual, multiracial, and multireligious America that I know and love. I won't let Trump define and own America. I, in all my brown-skinned, spicy-curry-eating, colorfully-clothed, non-alcohol-drinking glory, AM America.