From the December 13 edition of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS:
FAREED ZAKARIA: I think of myself first and foremost as an American. I'm proud of that identity because, as an immigrant, it came to me through deep conviction and hard work, not the accident of birth. I also think of myself as a husband, a father, a guy from India, journalist, New Yorker, and on good days maybe an intellectual. But in today's political climate I must embrace another identity. I'm a Muslim. Now I'm not a practicing Muslim. The last time I was in a mosque, except as a tourist, was decades ago. I'm completely secular in my outlook. But as I watch the way in which Republican candidates are dividing Americans, I realize that it's important to acknowledge the religion into which I was born. And yet that identity doesn't fully represent me or my views.
I am appalled by Donald Trump's bigotry and demagoguery, not because I am a Muslim, but because I'm an American.
This is the real danger of Trump's rhetoric. It forces people who want to assimilate, who see themselves as having multiple identities, into a single box. The effects of this rhetoric have already poisoned the atmosphere. Muslim-Americans are more fearful and will isolate themselves more. The broader community will know them less and trust them less. A downward spiral of segregation will set in.
Once you start labeling an entire people by characteristics like race and religion and then see the whole group as suspect, tensions will build.
I remain an optimist. Trump has taken the country by surprise. People don't quite know how to respond to the vague unworkable proposals. “We have to do something,” he says. The phony statistics, the dark insinuations of conspiracies. “There's something we don't know,” he says, about President Obama, and the naked appeals to people's prejudices. But this is not the 1930s. People from all sides of the spectrum are condemning Trump, though there are several Trump-lites among the Republican candidates. The country will not stay terrified. Even after San Bernardino, the number of Americans killed by Islamic terrorists on U.S. soil in the 14 years since 9/11 is 45, according to New America. That's an average of about three people a year. The number killed in gun homicides this year alone will be around 11,000. In the end, America will reject this fearmongering and demagoguery as it has in the past. But we're going through an important test of political and moral character. I hope decades from now people will look back and ask, “what did you do when Donald Trump proposed religious tests in America?”