It’s been about a month since Donald Trump has become the president elect of the United States. It’s been about a month and I’m still frozen in shock and disgust. As expected, there have been a lot of differing, strong opinions surrounding his election. Facebook alone has somehow transformed into a medium where everyone truly believes they are political science PhD holders. To be fair, the very president they’re supporting has no background in politics either.
It’s been about a month since Donald Trump has become president elect of the United States, and already there are serious talks about implementing things like a ‘Muslim Registry.’ I guess to the untrained mind those two words don’t mean much. They (the Trump administration) want all Muslims in the U.S. to legally identify that they are indeed a follower of Islam. I’ve been sitting here wondering why I’m not all that surprised or really “shook” about this whole ordeal. Am I losing my fire? Am I becoming too entrapped by corporate America to care about social issues? Is it because I graduated from college and my mind is no longer actively thinking about these things? Am I losing faith?
Well, the answer to all of these burning questions is a solid NO. The real answer to why I was feeling so funky is because I know that this isn’t the first or only time a Muslim Registry has come into existence, or the first time Muslims have been vilified. Since 9/11, the United States has created a plethora of avenues in which Muslims could be tracked, on register, and persecuted. Shout out to the Patriot Act, No Fly Lists, NSA, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay to name a few. This Muslim Registry is not something so unique, it’s just way more overt and publicized given the times we are living in. Does it still suck? Is it still frightening? Absolutely.
How did we as a people get to this point, though? Of course, history of all forms of oppression towards minorities is the backbone to all of this. However, media is an immense driving force in why these racist, oppressive political agendas are getting implemented and why Donald Trump has been elected into office. More importantly, the media has aided us to kind of just normalize injustice and suffering of certain groups of people. Think about it. Let’s take a look at the mainstream film industry. The amount of violence portrayed has increased year by year. “It’s just a movie, though.” Yeah, except we internalize these acts of violence and begin to standardize such behavior when we witness it in our daily lives, happening to real people. Movies and television plots have also become more geared towards showcasing a post-apocalyptic era. We begin to fantasize about experiencing situations similar to the Hunger Games and The Purge. Living within an oppressive, divided regime is glamorized in a sense. In addition to these points, it’s interesting to note that the portrayals of minority groups within the entertainment industry have had a long, non-stop history of typecasting, vilification, and dehumanization. The more we watch and accept these portrayals as our source of ‘entertainment,’ the more we become desensitized to the violent realities of minorities in real life. It just doesn’t really matter to us. We’re kind of all just trying to get by each day with our structured routines of going to work or school.
The routines keep us busy. The routines keep us silent. The routines keep us blind.
There’s also a point to make about how journalism has truly transformed into a new entity due to the sudden growth of technology and social media. Everyone has access to social media. We are continuously bombarded, story after story of violence, injustice, or hey, look at this funny animal video. We have newsfeeds, timelines, and ‘trending stories’ that change every time you log on. We have 10-second videos that disappear within 24-hours to shrink our attention span and patience. All of these aspects impact and control our overall compassion for the world around us.
As I was making my dreadful commute to Manhattan during morning rush hour this week, I kept thinking about the same thing. “I wonder if everyone was this divided and outspoken when the Bush administration was elected into office?” Immediately, the answer popped into my mind. Maybe, but times were so ridiculously different compared to now due to the transformation of advanced technology. Even when Obama was elected as prez for his first term back in ’08, we barely had Facebook and Twitter. However, by his second term in 2012, social media was booming and that’s when the Internet really got loud. That was only four years ago. The drastic change in how the media functioned and permeated people’s lives is startling to say the least. It’s as if we’ve come to a point where we don’t even notice how much these violent, racist, radical images and ideas infiltrate our minds and ultimately impact the way we view society. Of course, the growth of technology and social media definitely has many positive attributes, however, overlooking larger dilemmas such as the inherent desensitization of the human psyche, is very concerning.
Rapid headlines, videos, and memes strip us of our ability and will to be patient and reflect. They numb us from being able to really feel emotions and sympathize. They rob us from our individual thoughts and voices and ultimately hinder us from creating a lasting positive change. It’s no wonder that with all this talk about a Muslim registry, I don’t find myself shivering out of the thought of it anymore. It’s no wonder why a majority of people truly believe that heightening surveillance and violence against an entire group of people is truly going to ‘do’ something and make the world a better place. It’s no wonder a racist, bigoted, unqualified, greedy monster has somehow been elected president of one of the most powerful nations of the world. It’s no wonder.