Trump's failure on 'heeby jobbies'

Story highlights

  • Dean Obeidallah: Comment from Trump questioner is offensive, but also ignores that many Muslims are veterans
  • Many Muslims have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, Obeidallah writes; Trump chooses to ignore this, pander to hate
  • Obeidallah: On Fourth of July, let's honor those who serve America, not diminish them for a bigoted candidate's gain

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)It's the Fourth of July weekend, when all Americans -- Muslim-Americans, too, of course-- celebrate our country's freedoms.

Let's hear from the world of Donald Trump.
    Well, Thursday during a Trump campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, an older white woman rose to ask him a question. She praised his campaign and then cut to the chase: "Why aren't we putting our military retirees on that border or in TSA? Get rid of all these heeby jobbies they wear at TSA?"
    "Heeby jobbies," as the Trump supporter comically put it, are actually called hijabs. A hijab is the simple headscarf that some Muslim women wear. Apparently to her, Americans who are Muslim -- of which there are 3.3 million in the U.S. -- should be fired from certain jobs because of their faith.
    So, did Trump, who would like to be our president, respond by making it clear that he passionately opposes discrimination against Muslim-American people, a third of whom are African-American?
    No. Trump responded in a kindly manner, "I understand."
    The woman went on, "I've seen them [women in hijabs] myself. We need the veterans back in there to take it." Trump reassured her: "You know, and we are looking at that ... We're looking at a lot of things."
    Trump is "looking at that."
    This might be a good place to point out that Muslim-Americans are veterans, too. There are approximately 6,000 Muslim-Americans proudly serving in our armed forces. And there are Muslim women who wear what the Trump supporter dubbed "heeby jobbies" providing care for vets at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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    Are these Muslim-Americans good enough for Trump's questioner to serve on the border or in the TSA? Perhaps Trump is "looking at that" too.
    Perhaps soon, based on his ominous answer to her, we can expect Trump to announce a list of occupations Muslim-Americans aren't permitted to hold because of their religion, recalling Germany in the late 1930s, where Jews were precluded from holding certain jobs?
    Outlandish? Let's look at what Trump has already proposed concerning Muslims here in the land of the free. A year ago, most would have found these ideas unthinkable, but that was before he helped hate find a home in the national dialogue.
    -- In December, Trump called for a "total and complete" ban on Muslims coming into the country (he has slightly walked this back since, but his new proposal is every bit as appalling.)
    -- Trump has also advocated the profiling of Muslim-Americans, meaning people like me would have fewer constitutional rights simply because of our faith.
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    -- He has called for closing offending American mosques, where Muslims go to worship -- much like Catholics, Jews, Protestants and others gather to worship -- alleging that Muslim-Americans are aware of terrorist plots but refuse to turn each other in.
    -- He has even been open to requiring Muslim-Americans to carry some sort of ID cards.
    What is stopping him from proposing a Muslim "Hunger Games"?
    Here's the thing that Trump and his questioner either doesn't know or won't acknowledge: Muslims were a part of America even before July 4, 1776. Fifteen percent of the slaves in the original 13 colonies were Muslim. In fact, if you recently watched the reboot of the "Roots" miniseries, you saw that Kunta Kinte, who was based on author Alex Haley's actual ancestor, was Muslim.
    Muslims fought to establish this nation, serving in the Revolutionary Army, fighting alongside George Washington, according to sociologist, Craig Considine, who assayed Muslims' contributions in war in an article for the Huffington Post. The most famous was Peter Buckminster, who fired the shot that killed British Major Gen. John Pitcairn at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
    Muslim-Americans also fought in the Civil War: Nicholas Said, for example, served in the Union army, later becoming a political activist. Muslims, like other Americans of faith, have served our nation to ensure that all Americans -- regardless of their faith, or lack thereof -- could enjoy the freedoms promised by our Constitution.
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    And many Muslims have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, giving their lives in defense of it. There is Capt. Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan, for example, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 while, as his commanding officer put it, he "selflessly and courageously, tackling the enemy head on." Khan was awarded the Purple Heart and is buried, along with other Muslim-Americans who died serving our nation, in Arlington National Cemetery.
    Besides the thousands of Muslim-Americans now serving in the United States' armed forces, others proudly serve our nation in the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Congress and in countless other agencies of government.
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    There are even nearly 1,000 Muslim-American police officers in the NYPD, protecting both New Yorkers and tourists from around the world who visit the Big Apple.
    This Fourth of July, we should honor those who have served our nation, not find hateful ways to diminish them, and reject the bigotry spewed by Trump and his followers.
    There's simply no place for that type of hate in a nation as great as the United States of America.