Dear President-elect Donald Trump:
You and I are very different. You are extraordinarily wealthy, and I am not. I am a Muslim, and you are a Protestant. You are now president-elect of the United States, and I am simply an attorney in private practice.
But we are both Americans, and we both love America. We are both in the position of serving the nation that we love: me by defending the Constitution in court and you by having the great responsibility of leading our nation for the next four years.
Perhaps most important, we are both fathers who love our children and family dearly, so both of us must be concerned that within two days of your election, Muslim American women wearing hijab are being accosted on the streets of America.
I am sure you don’t remember, but we met long ago, when I was in business school.
I have long admired your business background, and I became one of the few Muslim Americans who supported you early on in your campaign. I supported you then because, in addition to your experience as a businessman, I also admired how, like my immigrant Indian family of hardworking professionals, you took on an establishment that you believed was crooked, rigged and in dire need of reconstruction.
Unfortunately, after terrifying my daughter, my family and my community with your surprisingly xenophobic comments about Muslims and other minorities, you made it impossible for me to continue to support you.
In case you don’t already know, Muslim Americans share several values Republicans hold dear: family values, a conservative approach to fiscal and tax matters, issues related to abortion and traditional marriage, to name a few.
American Muslims hail from all over the world and your prior anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric indicated to us that candidate Trump was not ready for prime time. How could President Trump represent all Americans when he failed to realize the importance of countries American Muslims emigrated from and maintain deep ties to? How could President Trump ever maintain any credibility with Muslim world leaders if he should ever need to negotiate with them? What about the negative impact the trillions of dollars we trade with these Muslim countries could have on our national economy if President Trump were so reckless that he were to put this in jeopardy with his hateful rhetoric?
Though these questions still linger, objectively, it would be disingenuous of my community and me to ignore your amazing accomplishment in overcoming all obstacles and winning the 2016 election and for this, we congratulate you and your family.
We also thank you for now balancing your pre-election faux pas with your election night speech in which you said you now “want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone. All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict.”
Though my 9-year-old daughter is terrified that your presidency somehow means she must move out of the United States, where she was born, I have advised her that you have earned the right to lead our nation as president of all Americans. I have asked my daughter to take comfort in your assurance that “now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together, to all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me.”
As my family and I are among the millions of American citizens in the electorate, please let us be among the first in the Muslim-American community to graciously accept the olive branch you extended during your acceptance speech on election night.
My family, my community and I would very much like to believe you when you said that "for those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country…Working together we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream."
To me, these are the words of a leader with tremendous potential. Please understand that your fellow citizens who originally felt insulted by your harsh and painful words are now frightened, confused and feel disenfranchised in your post-election afterglow. They need you to be forceful and repetitive in your assurances that they are fully included in President Trump’s America and that they will be as welcomed, cherished and protected as those in your own family and inner circle.
Most important, we need you to immediately put all the words that you expressed on election night into consistent and sincere action. Our nation and its citizens deserve nothing less from their new president.
Arshad Majid, a former prosecutor, is a civil rights attorney and adjunct professor of law at the Touro College Law Center.