Posted on June 10, 2022

Is It Time for Me to Leave America?

Wajahat Ali, Daily Beast, June 4, 2022

Is it time to leave?

I’ve caught myself asking my wife this question several times over the past year. We were both born and raised in America, a country of opportunity for our immigrant parents who left Pakistan with little more than hope and belief in a dream that anyone, even brown-skinned Muslims, with some luck and hard work, could make it and be accepted. But that dream is becoming a nightmare.

If you’re a person of color, it seems foolish and reckless to not, at least, have an exit plan when looking at the political and cultural landscape.


Earlier this week, New York Times journalist Farnaz Fassihi was trolled and harassed on Twitter for simply stating the following: “I’m a child of immigrants. When I was a kid, everyone I knew wished they could raise their children in America, now, everyone I know wishes they could raise their children outside of America.”


Just this week, we’ve learned that the GOP is unleashing a multi-pronged precinct strategy using Republican operatives to allege voter fraud in close elections. A majority of Republican voters believe in the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and nearly 65 percent of them believe in an aspect of the white supremacist “replacement theory.”


If Republicans take control of the political leadership of Congress, which seems likely, they will be beholden to an increasingly radicalized and weaponized base that is fine using violence to “take back their country.”

Meanwhile, Republicans refuse to move against white supremacist terrorism, which is the number domestic terror threat in the country. Instead their colleagues, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, openly attend conferences hosted by Nick Fuentes—a notorious anti-semite and white nationalist. The hoods are off, and there’s no turning back for the GOP.

As a Muslim, I saw President Donald Trump openly say, “I think Islam hates us.” He ran on a promise to enact a “complete and total ban” on Muslims. He was not only elected as president in 2016, but he received 11 million more votes after spending four years doubling down on chaos, hate, xenophobia, and cruelty. History has taught us that when authoritarian movements see people as problems, they usually come up with gruesome and horrific solutions.

It’s tough to love a country that doesn’t love you back, and even tougher to fight for it as it’s trying to kill you.


With all this, you can’t blame my father, who’s now in his seventies, for begging me to at least develop an exit plan.

He came to this country after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act as a young student. He has never mentioned leaving before, whether it was through the War on Terror or moments of personal crisis when our family weathered poverty, bankruptcy, and incarceration. For the sake of his grandkids, he keeps researching countries where we could possibly go in case it all turns to hell in 2024. He’s narrowing in on Canada and New Zealand. {snip}

As a student of history, I know America has always been a land of violence, hypocrisy, and contradictions—one need only compare its alleged values of egalitarianism with its historical oppression of Black people. However, in the past 60 years, it’s also been a country that has often slowly and painfully trudged forward towards progress. It’s a country where a brown-skinned son of Muslim immigrants who barely spoke English in pre-school is able to pray in a mosque and write articles openly criticizing the government without fear of being tortured or kidnapped.

The question is will my kids’ generation—who will be the first generation of Americans to have fewer rights than the previous one—have the ability to be the protagonist of a country that sees them as villains and invaders?

Over the weekend, I told my wife, “Listen, we should seriously think about the possibility of leaving. We have three kids, and they deserve a chance to be safe.” My wife thought about it, but decided that even though the future does indeed look bleak in America (especially for our democracy), we should stay and fight.