When President Donald Trump took office, he shortly pushed a travel ban on various Muslim nations, and this seemed to be the last straw for the only Muslim adviser on the National Security Council just eight days into the Trump administration. Rumana Ahmed joined the White House in 2011, fresh out of college. She would eventually land on the National Security Council, all under President Barack Obama’s administration.
Rumana happens to be a Muslim, which was seen as both good and bad for her possible career in Washington. Some liked the idea, as having someone around to help Americans understand the religion of Islam would be beneficial, rather than make mistakes regarding it. Having Rumana was a pretty big deal, but it did come with some controversy naturally.
Some hated the idea that she landed on the National Security Council as there is still fear among a good portion of Americans that Muslims are bad. This is something that Donald Trump ran on during his campaign, as he actually even mentioned the idea of making Muslims register. Of course, this did not stop Miss Ahmed, who felt being around during the Trump administration may be useful to the president. He may need to call upon her for advisement, but this never occurred of course.
Shortly into his run in office, Donald Trump pushed his travel ban on multiple countries in the Middle East. None of the countries listed made threats to the United States or attacked the country according to an intel report from the DHS. Meanwhile other nations such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who did have people responsible for attacks on the U.S., were left off the ban.
This was when Rumana Ahmed quit, just eight days into the Trump administration, as she explained with her article at The Atlantic. She claimed,
“Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens. I lasted eight days.”
It made sense for Rumana Ahmed to stick around and try to help, knowing what Donald Trump said about Muslims before he took office, but once the travel ban hit she felt like it was not right to stick around. Ahmed would continue her thoughts regarding her departure, saying,
“When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat. The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications adviser, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.”
One would assume that her departure would be an interesting situation for the person she shared an office with. Anton got to know her for some time, and the fact that she was leaving in such a haste into the Trump administration would clearly be something one would want to know. Rumana would tell him why she was leaving, as she told her office mate,
“I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions. He looked at me and said nothing.”
If one feels unwanted and that there are personal beliefs being infringed on, most would assume that it would be okay to leave at that point. If you’re not being treated right or you feel people like you are not being treated right, that is a belief that cannot be pushed around. Rumana would find out why Michael Anton was so quiet with her the day she left.
“It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a ‘weakness,’ and Islam as ‘incompatible with the modern West.’”
Rumana went on to claim that his statements were false, claiming the way she was raised and how she has disproved a lot of what was being said about Muslims. While there have been Muslims that attacked the United States, they were extremists. Now ISIS is the main force in the Middle East, also classified as extremists. However, there are over 1 billion Muslims worldwide. To think that every one of the people from this religion are against Americans or Christians would be incorrect.
The same can be said for Christian extremists. People have killed in the name of the Christian religion, as well as other religions, all throughout world history, and there are still nations who hate Christians and Jews due to the historical impact that a fraction of them had. However, the new major threat of topical conversation revolves around ISIS, who bases their beliefs on Islam, but in a warped sense of it, similar to how people used to use the Bible to condone slavery for years in the south. People warped the meaning to fit what they wanted it to mean. ISIS has done this and even threatened people of the Islamic faith, as well as killed people from it.
To say that Islam is the main issue with them is incorrect if they killed other Muslims. That is the meaning behind what Rumana was saying, as extremists may be a problem but the religion of Islam at large is not if there are nearly a billion peaceful Muslims worldwide who haven’t attacked anyone. Miss Ahmad would talk about how she felt during the Donald Trump presidential campaign, saying,
“Over the course of the campaign, even when I was able to storm through the bad days, I realized the rhetoric was taking a toll on American communities. When Trump first called for a Muslim ban, reports of hate crimes against Muslims spiked. The trend of anti-Muslim hate crimes is ongoing, as mosques are set on fire and individuals attacked––six were killed at a mosque in Canada by a self-identified Trump supporter. Throughout 2015 and 2016, I watched with disbelief, apprehension, and anxiety, as Trump’s style of campaigning instigated fear and emboldened xenophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes. While cognizant of the possibility of Trump winning, I hoped a majority of the electorate would never condone such a hateful and divisive worldview.”
Rumana Ahmed is not wrong in what she is saying either, as Donald Trump’s views and campaign sparked a lot of Anti-Muslim movements, especially across the south. According to a report out of SPL Center’s website, Muslim hate crimes spiked to 67 percent in 2015, and they based their statistics on new reports out of the FBI. The report also mentioned that various other hate crimes spiked as well. The center claimed anti-black hate crimes increased by almost 8 percent, and anti-LGBT hate crimes rose by almost 5 percent.
This means that, if the campaign was anything to go on, Trump’s words may have sparked hate crimes across the board. In regard to the self-identified Trump supporter, many would claim that anyone could do a hate crime or a crime in general under someone’s name but that does not mean they orchestrated the attack or condoned it. Yet the same cannot be said for the religion of Islam, which is kind of a hypocritical situation.
Rumana Ahmed would then recall what it was like to be in the National Security area the eight days she was under the Donald Trump administration, saying,
“The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing. As one staffer serving since the Reagan administration said, ‘This place has been turned upside down. It’s chaos. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.’ This was not typical Republican leadership, or even that of a businessman. It was a chaotic attempt at authoritarianism––legally questionable executive orders, accusations of the press being ‘fake,’ peddling countless lies as ‘alternative facts,’ and assertions by White House surrogates that the president’s national security authority would ‘not be questioned.’
“The entire presidential support structure of nonpartisan national security and legal experts within the White House complex and across federal agencies was being undermined. Decision-making authority was now centralized to a few in the West Wing. Frustration and mistrust developed as some staff felt out of the loop on issues within their purview. There was no structure or clear guidance. Hallways were eerily quiet as key positions and offices responsible for national security or engagement with Americans were left unfilled.”
Rumana Ahmed would finish her words with The Atlantic talking about what she knows best, national security. Of course, no longer being involved with the council, it is now difficult to know what is going on. However, she knows who is there and was there long enough to know intentions and thoughts behind what the Trump administration will do. She would claim,
“Alt-right writers, now on the White House staff, have claimed that Islam and the West are at war with each other. Disturbingly, ISIS also makes such claims to justify their attacks, which for the most part target Muslims. The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like ‘radical Islamic terror,’ legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked. Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a ‘weakness’ is dangerous. It is false.
“People of every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age pouring into the streets and airports to defend the rights of their fellow Americans over the past few weeks proved the opposite is true––American diversity is a strength, and so is the American commitment to ideals of justice and equality. American history is not without stumbles, which have proven that the nation is only made more prosperous and resilient through struggle, compassion and inclusiveness. It’s why my parents came here. It’s why I told my former 5th grade students, who wondered if they still belonged here, that this country would not be great without them.”
Rumana Ahmed certainly is no longer around to know how things will go in the council or under the Trump administration. However, if what Miss Ahmed says is true, then the American people may be seeing some issues in the future. The question is, will Donald Trump and his administration change their ways if they see things are not as bad as they claim it to be? As of now, ISIS is certainly a threat, but instead of going after them the administration seems to be focused on Muslim-Americans, and nations who have nothing to do with American security.
[Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]