Writer and Muslim activist Asra Nomani teaches journalism at Georgetown University and is a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. By her own admission, she is a lifelong liberal who voted twice for Barack Obama. This year, however, Nomani broke from expectations and voted for Donald Trump.
In a special for The Washington Post, Nomani explained why she selected the Republican candidate over Hillary Clinton based on one issue that rose above all others in importance for her: stopping the threat of Islamic extremism:
This is my confession -- and explanation: I -- a 51-year-old, a Muslim, an immigrant woman "of color" -- am one of those silent voters for Donald Trump. And I'm not a "bigot," "racist," "chauvinist" or "white supremacist," as Trump voters are being called, nor part of some "whitelash."
Nomani said she was lumped into the “trifecta of ‘hatred/division/ignorance’” by her friends on Twitter who blasted their shame over the millions of Americans who voted for Trump. “That,” she said, “is where the dismissal of voter concerns about Clinton led to her defeat.”
As a recent guest on Fox & Friends, Nomani told of the “tolerance” she was experiencing from fellow liberals, “As you can tell I don’t have horns on my head, right, but nonetheless I am now being [characterized] as a traitor, to my own liberals as an idiot, names that I can’t even repeat on air.” Her Muslim friends want her sent “to the gates of hell,” she added.
Besides meeting the qualifications of a liberal voter: being a woman, a Muslim, and an immigrant, Nomani also supports abortion, same-sex marriage, and climate change, thus making her the perfect Clinton voter. So, why couldn’t she pull the lever for her?
“I am a single mother who can't afford health insurance under Obamacare,” she writes. “The president's mortgage-loan modification program, ‘HOPE NOW,’ didn't help me. Tuesday, I drove into Virginia from my hometown of Morgantown, W.Va., where I see rural America and ordinary Americans, like me, still struggling to make ends meet, after eight years of the Obama administration.”
And that’s just for starters; the real issue that made Trump the clear choice in her mind is his stance on Islamic extremism:
Finally, as a liberal Muslim who has experienced, firsthand, Islamic extremism in this world, I have been opposed to the decision by President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the "Islam" in Islamic State. Of course, Trump's rhetoric has been far more than indelicate and folks can have policy differences with his recommendations, but, to me, it has been exaggerated and demonized by the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, their media channels, such as Al Jazeera, and their proxies in the West, in a convenient distraction from the issue that most worries me as a human being on this earth: extremist Islam of the kind that has spilled blood from the hallways of the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai to the dance floor of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
It was seeing Clinton “do the Obama dance” on CNN days after the Pulse shooting that gave her concern over how serious the Democrats were taking Islamic terrorism. Clinton had said, “From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say. And it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him.” Nomani preferred Trump’s take from a tweet around the same time: “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn't he should immediately resign in disgrace!"
But then there was this nail in the coffin for Nomani:
By mid-October, it was one Aug. 17, 2014, email from the WikiLeaks treasure trove of Clinton emails that poisoned the well for me. In it, Clinton told aide John Podesta: "We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL," the politically correct name for the Islamic State, "and other radical Sunni groups in the region."
The revelations of multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation from Qatar and Saudi Arabia killed my support for Clinton. Yes, I want equal pay. No, I reject Trump's "locker room" banter, the idea of a "wall" between the United States and Mexico and a plan to "ban" Muslims. But I trust the United States and don't buy the political hyperbole -- agenda-driven identity politics of its own -- that demonized Trump and his supporters.
“I gently tried to express my thoughts on Twitter but the ‘Pantsuit revolution’ was like a steamroller to any nuanced discourse,” Nomani added. “If you supported Trump, you had to be a redneck.”
But Nomani states that she has “no fears about being a Muslim in a ‘Trump America,’” writing that since arriving from India to the U.S. at age four, she trusts the checks and balances in “our rich history of social justice and civil rights will never allow the fear-mongering that has been attached to candidate Trump's rhetoric to come to fruition.”
It was Hillary Clinton’s America Nomani was most afraid of, especially with the Democrat’s financial ties to Qatar and Saudi Arabia: “These [Muslim] dictatorships are no shining examples of progressive society with their failure to offer fundamental human rights and pathways to citizenship to immigrants from India, refugees from Syria and the entire class of de facto slaves that live in those dictatorships.”
She ended her piece, stating, “We have to stand up with moral courage against not just hate against Muslims, but hate by Muslims, so that everyone can live with sukhun, or peace of mind.”
Nomani has long been a Muslim activist and earlier this year, called on President Obama to stop the segregation of men and women at mosques in America. With his repeated plea that Islam has always been a part of the American story and his wife’s push to stand up for girls around the world, Nomani noted the hypocrisy after he visited a mosque in Baltimore and didn’t call out the gender apartheid practiced there.