Will you consider yourself American if you do not follow the U.S. Constitution? That may be the most important question for all Americans. They assume geography equals identity, which here is citizenship. Legally this is true but is it a sufficient definition of American identity? If someone doesn't follow the Republicans, (or Democrats), then would they be considered a Republican (or Democrat)? The recent election of Donald Trump as a president put the GOP through an identity crisis for that very reason.
Soaring hate crimes
One reason many Americans act un-American is that they haven't read the Constitution. The same holds true for religion. And when it comes to Muslims, Americans aren't acting American. In 2015 alone hate crimes against Muslims rose by 67%, with 257 anti-Muslim bias incidents reported. This isn't the religious tolerance that Thomas Jefferson envisioned for America when he said, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
In fact, every vote cast against religious tolerance for Christians, Jews, Muslims or of any other religion - or any nonbelievers - is a vote against the country and undermines America. Can we even call them Americans, or are they just delusional house-guests?
So how to decrease religious animosity?
In other words, how do we decrease hate crimes and improve interfaith relations? This question remains unanswered. But the country needs to:
- Enforce strict hate-crime laws
The local, state, and federal governments should strongly enforce hate-crime laws to send a message that the country stands united in its defense of freedom of speech and freedom to worship. We've to show our commitment to protecting religious minorities with the same vigor that we target suspected terrorists.
- Speak up
When Donald Trump held a meeting during his presidential campaign, a man in the audience said, "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims...When can we get rid of them?" The response was amazing. Trump pandered, "You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be looking at that and many other things." Later #Trump announced he would bar Muslims from entering America, among other anti-Muslim measures. Other Republicans agreed. Americans should stand and speak up against such measures.
- Increase interfaith activities