“A crisis allows for an opportunity,” says writer and commentator Wajahat Ali in a new video essay for The Atlantic.
The crisis in question: the Trump administration’s controversial Travel Ban—“or as we call it in my home, the Muslim Ban,” says Ali. Suspended in March of this year due to overwhelming legal and social resistance, a revised version of the ban was passed temporarily by the Supreme Court this week, days after the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Fitr. “The ruling,” begins Ali, means that America is a beacon of liberty for every community—except mine.”
The new travel ban goes into effect this evening, limiting six majority-Muslim countries—Syria, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Somalia—from receiving U.S. visas for 90 days, with a few highly conditional exceptions. All U.S. refugee admissions from those six countries will be barred for the next 120 days.
As Ali calmly points out, the existence of this ban has the effect of making his children feel like outsiders in their own nation. In tune with his belief in “building a coalition of hope,” Ali argues for anything but complacency in light of this ruling. “Get off the sidelines and in the ring,” he says, calling upon his children (and anyone hungry for justice) to be Jedi warriors, marshalling all resources to create a “multicultural coalition of the willing.”
In his warm and thoughtful keynotes, Ali discusses what it feel like to be a Muslim today, questioning prejudice and stereotypes with his trademark wit (and lots of comic book references). Regularly appearing on CNN to discuss politics, Ali is a New York Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer, former lawyer, and playwright—representing a new kind of public intellectual: young, exuberant, optimistic. He speaks on the multifaceted Muslim American experience, and an emergent generation poised for social change.