Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari put away the jokes on Friday when he wrote an op-ed for The New York Times that touches on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Orlando massacre and Islamophobia in America.
Ansari also opened up about what it is like to be the son of Muslim immigrants in the United States.
“Today, with the [presumptive GOP] presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels,” he wrote. “It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense.”
Though Ansari admits he is not a religious man, he said in the wake of the Orlando shootings, he and “anyone that even looks like they might be Muslim” experienced a “strange feeling that you must almost prove yourself worthy of feeling sad and scared like everyone else.”
Ansari said even with his fame as an asset in today’s age, he still knows what it can feel like for many Muslims in America, remembering an encounter shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks when someone from a moving vehicle in Manhattan called him a terrorist as it passed him.
“The vitriolic and hate-filled rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump isn’t so far off from cursing at strangers from a car window,” Ansari wrote. “He has said that people in the American Muslim community ‘know who the bad ones are,’ implying that millions of innocent people are somehow complicit in awful attacks.”
It’s a notion that the comedian called “wrongheaded.”
Ansari pointed to reported statistics on the number of white males perpetrating mass shootings, and said he doubted Trump would call for restricting the freedoms of white males.
“I doubt we’ll hear Mr. Trump make a speech asking his fellow white males to tell authorities ‘who the bad ones are,’ he wrote.
The comedian also offered his own solutions to the dangers of terrorism in the United States, mainly gun-control legislation, and wrote of his family's experience during the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was a student in a New York University dorm building that "was close enough that it shook upon [the plane's] impact."