Letter from a Naturalized American

Hisham Melhem, writing for FP, has an open letter to Trump entitled “Dear Mr. Trump, Don’t Desecrate my American Bible”. Melhem is referring to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as to the thick weave of historical documents around the Civil War and other struggles to advance the cause of our democracy.

FP is usually behind a paywall, so I’m not sure the link will work — it’s been free over the holiday weekend. I’ll provide it, just in case:


To give you a sense of the article, here’s an excerpt, which comes after Melhem’s detailed explanation of how he chose to become an American and why he loves this country :

“Mr. Trump, for almost two years you and your close supporters have engaged in the politics of fear and smear, speaking ill of nonwhite immigrants and Muslims and publicly praising authoritarians like Presidents Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Mr. Trump, your hostile views about “Muslims entering the United States” shocked the American Muslim community, and antagonized and alienated Muslim states, the very people you need in the struggle against Islamist extremism at home and abroad. Your opposition to accepting even a small number of refugees from the horrors of Syria betrays our values, and condemns more Syrian children to death at the hands of their government while we watch the proceedings streamlined live.

Your ambivalence about human rights at home and abroad is very disturbing. For the first time in my 44-year American life, I am genuinely concerned about my civil rights. For you to suggest depriving Americans of their citizenship for exercising their First Amendment rights — indeed to even think that it would be legal to do so — is beyond chilling. In a world where autocracy is on the march, you have seriously damaged America’s unique place as a successful, inspiring democratic model.

Melhem’s words are compelling, carefully thought through and expressed, and deeply moving. Here’s the problem: even if his letter made its way to Trump, the argument is too long and detailed to hold Trump’s attention. He’d never read it, and therefore it could never influence his thinking.

We’re going to have government by tweets and bullet points, like it or not.

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