For the 2016 election, Asma Khalid worked as a campaign reporter who focused on the intersection of demographics and politics. She is a self-described “identifiable Muslim” who wears the hijab. In this piece for All Things Considered, she talks about “crisscrossing the country to talk to all kinds of voters.”
Here’s a segment from her piece: “No doubt, for many folks, particularly Trump voters, I was the first Muslim they had ever met. Maybe that’s why I got so many curious reactions. Sometimes they were negative — furtive glances as I walked through an Ohio pumpkin patch to interview people, or the way a middle-aged man physically recoiled when I said ‘hello.’
Trump supporters loved to ask me ‘Do you think he’s racist?’ At his rallies, it was a question I pretended I couldn’t hear through my headphones over the din of the music. But it’s a question I’ve often thought was overly simplistic. Did they want affirmation, or was it a proxy for whether they could trust me?
Other times, the reactions were just inexplicable — the GOP leader in Ohio who brought me local maple syrup as a gift for the road and then asked for a hug, or the couple at a Trump event in Florida who invited me to spend the weekend on their boat. Maybe it was cathartic for them, I don’t know.”
Ms. Khalid draws the conclusion that “Donald Trump did not create the fear of Muslims; he merely tapped into it.”