Idil is a 23-year old based in D.C. Originally from Turkey, she moved here for college. I was blown away by her passion and her love for America, and I wanted to share her interview.
On why she’s a good citizen:
I think I am a good citizen mostly because I’m a firm believer in public service, and I think that that’s something we have lost over time. I think we don’t have as much faith in government as we used to. I’m everything that the Tea Party hates. I’m a woman. I’m liberal. I’m a Muslim. I’m a feminist. I’m a lot of these things, and I’m an immigrant, and despite all that, I still believe in and fight for American values (by working on government issues). That’s what being a good citizen is all about.
Her keys to being a good citizen:
Political awareness. Belief in American values. Respect for others. Acceptance of others.
Her thoughts on why it’s challenging to be Muslim in America:
I went to a conservative college, and I remember people asking me when I was going to convert (to Christianity). It’s hard to understand why they couldn’t understand the differences between people. I think a lot of people don’t understand secularism. I think in the case of Muslims, 9/11 is responsible for that feeling. When I say I’m not drinking for Ramadan, people don’t understand. At the same time, because I don’t wear a head scarf, a lot of people here tell me I’m not real Muslim. So it’s rejection on both sides.
Her take on polarization’s effect on citizenship:
It’s tough to say whether people of the opposite political leanings are good citizens. The political climate doesn’t really allow us to endorse the other side’s good side. Even if Kasich were president instead of Trump, we would still say he was so terrible even though Kasich is a pretty moderate Republican and a good guy. Liberals might even say I’m not a good citizen because I might not use the right recycling; others might say I’m not because I don’t renounce my citizenship to Turkey. On the other hand, in my opinion, there are also a lot of people in my generation, especially on the other side of the aisle, who think they’re good citizens but don’t actually do anything to live up to that.
On why freedom is so important to America:
I think freedom better describes what it means to be an American better than opportunity. Opportunity is concentrated. But everyone has freedom. I can quit my job today, and become a coffee barista. And it’s my business. I can also say whatever I want. I can sit in a public environment and talk to you like this. There are a lot of countries you can’t do that in. But freedom should never be used to harm anyone