[P4893] What's Really New about the Trump Era for Arab and Muslim Americans?

Created by Louise A. Cainkar
Monday, 11/20/17 10:30am


This panel examines the ways that Trump era policies represent both continuity and change for Arab and Muslim Americans, and the ways in which their treatment increasingly convergences with other racialized US populations. One paper traces the emergence and normalization of the national surveillance state under Bush and Obama, distinguishing Trump policies that represent consolidation and those that signal departure, highlighting the ways these policies also target other US populations. Another paper demonstrates the continuities of US Empire and anti-Arab racism from the Bush Administration through Obama to the current moment through a comprehensive overview of Obama era policies. Such policies include systematic discrimination in immigration and border policy and refusal to speak out against Islamophobia. Obama maintained pro-Israel policies, pioneered the extrajudicial executions of US citizens on presidential order, conducted mass deportations, and avoided public association with Muslims or other people of color. The similarities and differences between Middle Eastern American civil rights advocacy efforts during Bush, Obama, and early Trump eras are explored in another contribution. The Bush era and much of the Obama era were characterized by a "color-blind" approach, favoring religious freedom to fight discriminatory policies. More recently, race-conscious advocacy emerged as recognition that Islamophobia was a form of racism grew. The paper explores potential solutions as the Trump era threatens to close off civil rights avenues of relief. Census data on persons from the Middle East is examined in another paper, framed in historic and present day contexts of immigration, race and identity and providing a critical consideration of the pros and cons of including a MENA ethnic category in the decennial Census. The final paper sets the proposed MENA Census category within the history of counting racialized populations and Arab/Muslim American securitization. Since Arab advocacy for such a category began in the 1990's Arab and Muslim Americans have been on all kinds of lists: no-fly lists, special registration lists, persons of interest lists, FBI lists, and so on, institutionalizing their racialized status as a threat to American interests. More recently, now President Trump advocated for a Muslims registry and ordered immigrant and refugee bans. This context alters the proposed MENA Census category's meaning and renders compliance questionable and risky. More broadly, the Trump Administration's unabashed, open championing of white privilege has brought convergence to the distinct racialized histories of all people of color, positioning them under the singular umbrella of brown/black threat.


Arab American Studies Association (AASA)






Louise A. Cainkar

(Marquette University)
Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Welfare and Justice at Marquette University. Author of: Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience after 9/11. (2009, New York: Russell Sage Foundation) and a wide range of articles...
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Kristine Ajrouch

(Eastern Michigan University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Danielle Haque

(Minnesota State University Mankato)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Erik Love

(Dickinson College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;