One Small Step is a new effort produced by Storycorps that brings together Americans with differing political views. In one of their recent stories, we meet Amina Amdeen, a Muslim student at the University of Texas, and Joseph Weidknecht, a young Trump supporter, who both attended a Trump Rally in Austin, albeit for different reasons. They talk to NPR —
Weidknecht, now 26, went to the rally by himself while Amdeen, now 21, went to protest. “I noticed you, with the [MAGA] hat, and I noticed that you were surrounded by some people, and I noticed that they were being kind of threatening,” says Amdeen. “I heard a click of a lighter right behind my ear, and there were about three people trying to light my shirt on fire with lighters,” Weidknecht says.
“And then somebody snatched your hat off your head,” Amdeen says. “And that’s the point where … something kind of snapped inside of me because I wear a Muslim hijab, and I’ve been in situations where people have tried to snatch it off my head. And I rushed towards you and I just started screaming ‘Leave him alone! Give me that back!'”
Weidknecht says he was grateful that she stepped in to defend him. “I don’t think we could be any further apart as people, and yet, it was just kinda like this common ‘that’s not OK’ moment.”
Weidknecht, who was home schooled, says his view of the Muslim community was influenced by news articles and that Amdeen was the first Muslim person he had ever got to know. “It’s not that I’ve actively avoided, it’s just, I’ve just never been in the position where I can interact for an extended period of time.”
“I’d like for this to encourage other people to engage in more conversations with people that you don’t agree with,” Amdeen tells NPR. “That’s what it is all about,” Weidknecht concurs. “I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who felt like that.”