To members of the Trump Administration,
I’m writing to you to let you know that I intend to sign up for whatever Muslim registry you seem to be stirring in your seats for. And I am glad to let you know that I will do so with enthusiasm. This may shock you, that not only do I not fear your registry, but I would gladly let it be known that I am a man of Muslim descent. Please, let me explain.
After the news of the potential Muslim registry emerged in recent news, I immediately investigated the possibility of my or my family being on such a registry. It was speculated that such a registry would apply only to Muslim immigrants, which would only apply to my parents and almost the entirety of my extended family. But incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, and Donald Trump himself have both neither confirmed nor denied a broader Muslim registry, which would include myself, being of Muslim descent. One may argue that just because I’m of Muslim descent doesn’t mean that I would be included on such a list. To that I say, “I’m sure Adolf Hitler wasn’t checking to see if someone of Jewish descent celebrated Rosh Hashanah before sending them to a death camp.”
Regardless of whether or not I would personally be considered a Muslim, any list that members of my family would be put on is one I will proudly sign onto as well. But not just because of solidarity with my family. I absolutely refuse to deny my ancestry, and the culture that I originate from. We are proud Persians. People of honor, respect, and progress. Whether or not I actually practice Islam, the religion is a central part of our culture. Since the seventh century when the Arab Muslims invaded Persia, the religion has made its way into some of the most pivotal portions of our culture. Our new year, Norooz, has many traditions, some originating before the invasion, and some after, both of which are practiced in my family. The way I see it, Islam and its influences are an undeniable facet of modern Persian culture, no matter whether one practices the religion or not. I will not shy in the face of allegiance. I will not deny my culture. I will register as a Muslim in Trump’s America if that is the America he wishes to have.
Now you may be reading this and believe that I somehow identify solely as Persian. This is plainly not true. I am as American as I am Persian. I may even argue that because of my American nativity and upbringing in American culture, my American identity is stronger than my Persian identity. I would never for a second deny my place in this country. My parents came to this country reluctantly, heartbroken to leave behind the country they love. But they made a life for themselves here so that their children could enjoy America. They came here so that we may live as Americans, with rights as powerful as the country itself, and the freedom to be as American as one may be. And it is this freedom that I am unwilling to give up. I will sign your registry, because I will not deny myself. I will be a Persian American under the law, because that is my unalienable right. And if that means that I must sign your registry, so be it.
There has been much speculation over whether or not the Trump administration would actually be allowed to make such a registry. As prominent Trump supporter Carl Higbie has suggested, the administration could use Japanese Internment as a precedent. He is right; it is possible to use such a legal precedent. In a grave time of war and danger, an administration could in theory confiscate the rights of Americans (yes, legal Americans) to potentially increase the safety of the United States. Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court case concerning Executive Order 9066 that interned Japanese Americans regardless of whether or not they are citizens, decided that the United States government had the legal right to enact such a disregard to due process. The Trump administration could actually enact such a registry, or even a Muslim internment, especially if president-elect Trump filled Supreme Court seats with conservatives that would consider such an act.
But, I have a question for you, members of the Trump administration: Are you sure you can handle such dark power? Could you actually draw from one of the darkest moments in American history when we denied honest Americans the right to live as they pleased? Are you willing to separate people like myself and my family from the rest of Americans whom we know and love and wish to live amongst? Are you sure that you want to stain the American name by subjecting yourselves to extremism for the sake of fighting extremism? Would you like your legacy to show that in times of great pressure, you rejected grace? Are you willing to let the terrorists win by fearing those who appear as them but do not act as them?
I am unsure of what your administration will look like, and I am willing to give you a chance. Pertaining to the democratic process cemented in our republic by our Constitution, Donald Trump rightfully won the election for presidency. No matter how many of us may feel about this result, it is the legal reality. I don’t wish to have preemptive prejudices about how your administration will run, although the vocal past of some of your cabinet members is concerning. But as Mr. Trump is going to office and your administration will decide the fate of our nation, I implore you to consider the responsibility in your hands. You decide from here on out how our country will conduct itself in the world. And I demand of you to keep to heart our veterans, deceased or living, who have fought and died for our inalienable rights. I beg of you to remember those of us who want nothing more to achieve the same heights that all other citizens have been promised. I ask of you to do the right thing and keep freedom and justice for all, not most. I dare you to be American.