At the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, 2016, a Muslim woman asked both candidates a question about Islamophobia.
“There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States and I’m one of them,” she began. “You’ve mentioned working with Muslim nations, but with Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?”
The woman, who identified herself only as one of America’s 3.3 million Muslims. Photo via PBS Newshour.
Trump went first, and his answer contained a rather … unique suggestion for the Muslim community: that Muslims around the United States need to “report the problems when they see them.”
Simple! Making the world a better place means everyone participating. We’re all in this together, right? Right?
The Muslim community, excited about its new assignment, took to Twitter to begin reporting all the problems around them using the hashtag #MuslimsReportStuff.
Turns out, there were many problems to be reported.
From the concerning lack of personal space between candidates:
— Zakir Khan (@Muzzakh) October 10, 2016
— Shaista Aziz (@shaistaAziz) October 10, 2016
To the more mundane struggles of laundry day:
I did laundry this morning but still haven't put it away #MuslimsReportStuff
— Sana M (@sanamasuds) October 10, 2016
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani wanted to report an underappreciated gem from the annals of film history:
#MuslimsReportStuff Gremlins 2 is the rare sequel that completely deconstructs the franchise. For my money, it's better than the first.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) October 10, 2016
And author Reza Aslan reported that the world probably can’t handle the truth about hummus:
You don't want to know what we actually put in hummus. #MuslimsReportStuff
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) October 10, 2016
Actually … there were a lot of food issues that needed to be reported:
#muslimsreportstuff My mother uses store-bought filo pastry for her samoosas every single year.
— Yaseen Kader (@ysnkdr) October 10, 2016
Also my buffalo chicken sandwich did not have enough buffalo sauce. #MuslimsReportStuff
— Deanna ديانا (@deannaothman) October 10, 2016
— Nazli Hardy (@Nazlinspired) October 10, 2016
One time I accidentally ate pancetta bc I didn't know it was bacon. It was delicious 😳 #MuslimsReportStuff
— Nuha Krad (@kradiologist) October 10, 2016
But no one, especially Muslims, could ignore reporting the biggest problem they saw that night:
I need to report I saw an orange haired man on my TV scaring children #Muslimsreportstuff
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@Deanofcomedy) October 10, 2016
While many were quick to make light of Trump’s proposal, let’s be clear: Islamophobia is on the rise and uninformed rhetoric like his is partially to blame.
Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.
Trump’s now infamous “Muslim ban” was proposed to combat the supposed threat of terrorism committed by refugees, despite the fact that refugees go through a lengthy and detailed (one might even say “extreme”) approval process to enter the country.
Asking Muslims to report and stop acts of terror in order to combat Islamophobia is not only a simplistic solution, it reinforces the idea that the Muslim community as a whole is responsible for the acts of extremists.
I'm a Muslim and, just once, I'd like to hear candidates talk about me neither as a terrorist nor as eyes and ears on terrorists. #Debates
— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) October 10, 2016
That idea has been shown to be harmful and dangerous, time and time again. If you want to stop Islamophobia, or hate for any group of people, it’s usually good to start by not painting that group with a single brush.