Donald Trump probably expected business as usual last week when he took aim at Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a Muslim-American Army captain killed in Iraq. After all, his usual pattern of denigrating minorities, Muslims and immigrants has been a foundational strategy in his bid for the presidency. But thanks to a coordinated Twitter campaign to address his gendered critique of Ghazala Khan — in which he suggested the grieving mother either “had nothing to say” or was muzzled by her religion during a DNC appearance last week — Trump’s bigotry has backfired, at least for the moment.
Following Ghazala’s eloquent defense of her faith and her silence — by calling Islam a religion that teaches equality and citing the difficulty of speaking about her dead son — Muslim women and their allies flooded Twitter with their diverse and defiant voices, sending the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow viral as they proudly broadcast their strength as females and Muslims.
— Dalia Mogahed (@DMogahed) August 1, 2016
I’m an outspoken, Muslim female journalist because I’m tired of mainstream media defaming, misrepresenting & silencing us. #CanYouHearUsNow
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) August 1, 2016
We raise Nobel Peace Prize winners, we are Nobel Peace Prize winners. #CanYouHearUsNow
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) August 1, 2016
As a Muslim woman, I’m guided by my faith to speak out for racial justice, educational equity, LGBT & women’s rights. #CanYouHearUsNow
— Rana Elmir (@elmirana) August 1, 2016
The movement penetrated the Twitter mainstream within hours, making the U.S. trending list as well as “Moments,” the social media site’s editorial section.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) August 1, 2016
Refreshingly, a good number of non-Muslims registered their own disgust with Trump’s rhetoric, tweeting their solidarity with Muslim women around the world.
I am not a Muslim woman but I love and respect you #CanYouHearUsNow contributors! Keep up the great work!!.
— Barb-Wired (@babawoowa) August 1, 2016
#CanYouHearUsNow Standing in solidarity with my muslim sisters
— Free (@jeanette_nadene) August 1, 2016
This time, Trump’s gamble — that preying on the supposed “weak” would be mistaken for strength — backfired gloriously. For a moment, the mainstream displayed a moment of supreme decency, and America has been given a chance to reflect on the actual nature of so-called “American greatness.” As the “Khantroversy” wears on, Muslim women in particular should be commended for their simple, agile and effective reclamation of their narrative.