Elon Musk believes we’re likely living in a computer simulation, and after watching the second presidential debate, many are hoping he’s right and that there’s a way to reboot the system. Between Donald Trump’s frayed and bumbling monologues and Hillary Clinton’s over-rehearsed sloganeering, it felt as though we were walking across a rickety bridge drawn over the nine circles of hell.
The questions asked during the town hall were tame, at best, and while both candidates were often at odds—especially in regards to the misogynist language Trump used in 2005 when talking about forcing himself on women—there was a notable point of unity. Gorbah Hamed, a Muslim woman who sat with the undecided panel members, had a question for Clinton and Trump: how will they help Muslims “deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?”
Trump, ever-masterful in his oratory performance, offered a tempered acknowledgement of Islamophobia. “Well, you’re right about Islamophobia,” he said. “And that’s a shame.” But Trump did not stop there. He added Muslims need to do more to report “when they see something going on.”
Clinton followed his rambling and hard-to-follow answer with an appeal for American Muslims “to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines.” This was her own flowery call for Muslims to spy on their own communities—for them to “become part of our homeland security.”
Reacting to this exchange, Laila Lalami, author of The Moor’s Account, tweeted: “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.” Other Muslims tweeting during the debate used the hashtag #MuslimsReportStuff to mock the assertion that Muslims should do more to report “radicalism.”
Mockery aside, it must be noted lawmakers from both political camps continue to use Muslims as objects, who must be cautiously surveilled. They tokenize Muslim identities for the sake of undermining radicalism and pushing them into getting involved in “Countering Violent Extremism” programs.