Extremism is not a word I like to associate myself with. I view extremism from any side and every side as the antithesis of intellectualism and enlightenment.
I challenge myself on a regular basis to see every angle of an argument, especially when it's easy to pick a side.
Trump's election was surprising, to say the least. It also threw me into a position I would normally view as extreme.
I declared on election night that anyone who voted for Trump is not a friend to me or people like me.
I declared that they must have an ill will toward me, do not love me or wish for my success, happiness or prosperity.
I declared that they are not "my people" - not inclusive, not intellectual, not kind, not free.
How could you be if you voted for Trump?
How could my people give power and a voice to someone who suggested he would be willing to place me into a registry because of the religion I choose to follow?
How could my people give a voice and power to someone who would ban me from immigrating to this country, to pursue my hopes and dreams, to give me the chance to succeed, to give me the chance to fall and rise again?
How could my people give power and a voice to someone who cast the people of an entire nation as criminals, rapists, drug dealers and addicts?
How could my people give power and a voice to someone whom as a woman would assault me and assume he would get away with it because he's famous and powerful?
I could go on and on, but what is more stunning was the realization that came with the election of our new president: that Americans are more racist and hateful than I always believed.
You see, I always defended America no matter where I was as a place that constantly gives me hope and love. I take great pride in my Egyptian heritage and in the teachings of my religion. But it's America that feeds my passion for justice and equality. It is America that lets me be who I am, fully and freely. It's not Egypt and it's not any other country.
I admitted it's many shortcomings. There's no doubting America's bloody stains on our history. There's no dancing around its damaging foreign policy which has left us hypocritical and vulnerable.
But this country is ultimately a place that has given me strength and success, an open mind and full heart.
This was my America, the America I unabashedly defended as the beacon of hope. It was never an America that preached and endorsed hate and division. It was never an America that falls backward while marching forward.
I saw America as a mirror image of myself: hardworking, loving, proud, educated, sophisticated, enduring, resilient and strong, one that may fall but gets back up, one that may tear but sews itself back up, one that stands firmly on grounds of dignity and respect.
My political views do not fall on the right. But I can understand, accept and respectfully disagree with those on the right. I would've been disappointed had, say, Jeb Bush won the election, but I wouldn't have taken it as a sign that those who voted for him are racist and hateful because racism, I thought, is not Republican or Democrat. Racism is not white or black. It is not Jewish, Christian or Muslim. It is not human.
What if I as a Muslim had voted for a candidate who called for placing all Christians into a registry? What if I as a Muslim had voted for a candidate who belittled and insulted women and people with disabilities? What if I blew whistles of normalizing racism and intolerance?
What would you say of me? What would you do with me?
These are the things we immigrants ran away from. We run toward America for hope, inclusion, freedom and opportunity.
This election has done more than cast a large cloud of doubt on all of these values. It validated and legitimized extremism in America. It validated and legitimized racism, misogyny, bigotry, hate and division.
You may say these are not part of what defines us as Americans. But they are now. This vote has given it voice and power.
And if we're going to overcome that then we must wake up.
Wake up Americans!
Wake up to the reality that millions of us opted for hate, division and racism.
Wake up to the fact that we after all aren't too different from the nations which we so arrogantly believe are in need of our democracy.
Wake up to the fact that millions of us elected a president who values one set of humans more than others.
Wake up to the fact that we elected a candidate who would ban, marginalize and violate an entire group based on their religion. It's Islam today. It was Catholicism back then. It will be Judaism or even Christianity tomorrow.
Wake up to the fact that we are repeating what we once called history. Wake up to the fact that we are repeating the history of nations of which we claim higher moral grounds.
Wake up, America. It is almost too late.